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‘From: No Jitter’

Here are the seven trends that jumped
out at me during my week in Orlando.

Enterprise Connect 2016 is now in the books. As always, a number of trends and themes stood out from the noise of the show. Here are the ones I thought were most interesting.

Video on Display

portable

This year at Enterprise Connect we saw video use cases that demonstrated more than what traditional room-based systems can offer. As an example, Vidyo demonstrated video integration into ATMs with its partner NCR. Another example came from Polycom, which showed its slick RealPresence Centro unit that creates a new, very natural way of collaborating (see a related post, “Polycom Looks to Change Physical Meeting Space Dynamics“). In addition, a number of other vendors, including Smart Technologies, Crestron, InFocus and, of course, Microsoft (with the highly anticipated, late, Surface Hub) showed their multipurpose room displays.

The idea of the software-defined WAN is trending, which means lots
of hype and confusion to work through on the way to deployment.

Historically, the communications and networking industries have only had a loose association with each other. However, as more communications functions move to the cloud, the network, particularly the WAN, plays a more important role in how these applications perform.

This is one of the reasons why Vonage, one of the largest unified communications as a service (UCaaS) providers, has introduced a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) service. The service, called SmartWAN, is intended to deliver enhanced quality of service to UCaaS customers.

However, as I pointed out in my Enterprise Connect SD-WAN session preview post, “Software-Defined WAN: Realit or Just More Hype,” SD-WAN is a somewhat confusing topic. I tackled this topic on Tuesday, leading a discussion among panelists from Level 3 Communications, Talari Networks, VeloCloud, and Cisco with the aim of defining this nebulous topic and coming up with a few best practices for deployment.

From the keynote stage at Enterprise Connect, Avaya gives
us a zing with Zang, a communications platform as a service.

This week at Enterprise Connect, Avaya announced a number of products that will help shift the company from being a vendor of products to a platform vendor. In the No Jitter post covering yesterday’s opening keynote, associate editor Michelle Burbick quoted Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager of the IoT and Collaboration Technology Group, as saying, “UC feels like a thing of the past.” While I’m not quite ready to proclaim the death of UC, I do believe a fundamental shift is underway.

It’s my firm belief that users do not want more UC applications. Everyone has enough of them, and switching between business and UC applications is frustrating on a desktop but completely untenable on a mobile device. UC needs to evolve into a platform that enables companies to drop UC functions into the applications we already use. Picture a retail application in which I could click to call, message, or video directly from the application instead of having to leave the application, go to a dialer, initiate a call… and then go back to the application when the call is done.

A lot of exciting, revolutionary possibilities
emerge out of the union of IoT and UC.

If you’re married, in the process of getting married, or involved in a wedding, you’ve probably heard the expression “something old, something new.” In the tech industry right now, there’s a bit of a marriage going on of “something old and something new,” and that’s the intersection of unified communications (UC) and Internet of Things (IoT).

At first glance, you might wonder what one has to do with the other. UC is a relatively mature market largely involved with real-time communications to enable people to collaborate better. Compared to UC, IoT is a relatively new trend and has focused primarily on connecting traditionally unconnected devices such as medical equipment, sensors, industrial tools, and other endpoints. One technology deals with people and the other with objects, so this raises the question, is there value in bringing these together?

I believe there most certainly is, and I think some of the vendors are starting to see that as well. For example, Cisco recently put IoT software under the leadership of Rowan Trollope, who heads up the collaboration business unit at Cisco. If there was no value in bringing the two together, this leadership structure would make no sense.

We’re almost there, but lingering questions will
keep 2016 from being the year of the cloud in UC.

As the 2016 edition of Enterprise Connect unfolds in Orlando, Fla., next week, one of the hottest topics will be the rise of the cloud in unified communications. Many industry pundits have heralded 2016 as the year of the UC cloud, and the mania is at an all-time high.

Truth be told, I see 2016 being more the year of UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) hype than the year UCaaS becomes pervasive in the enterprise. Too many big questions still need answering. They are as follows:

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