Unified Communications analyst Phil Edholm had an interesting blog Wednesday about a trio of emerging UC technologies that in his opinion “every enterprise UC and telecom leader should become aware of.” I don’t disagree with his 3 nominees, though I have some thoughts.
One of these technologies is WebRTC, of course. For those who don’t know, WebRTC is an emerging standard that could potentially rock the telecom world by arming lone Web developers with the tools to quickly write full-fledged communications applications.
For sure, that COULD be a threat to vendors like Cisco, Microsoft and Avaya. Indeed, that threat to Skype/Lync is behind Microsoft’s curious response to WebRTC, according to at least one popular conspiracy theory. But to me, it’s just as likely that vendors like Avaya that have deep expertise in the needs of enterprises and carriers end up leveraging WebRTC to develop these better applications more quickly. For instance, Dr. Alan Johnston, a distinguished engineer at Avaya and one of the ‘fathers’ of the SIP communications protocol, is also a major mover-and-shaker behind the WebRTC standard and has already written a book on it.
Another technology that Edholm identified as disruptive is VoLTE, or Voice over Long Term Evolution. This is also known as 4G wireless, and gives smartphones and tablets hundreds of Mbps per second in bandwidth. Mobile carriers using VoLTE can reduce the amount of telecom gear they need to use, boost their spectrum efficiency as well as audio quality (via technologies such as wideband/HD).
Unlike WebRTC, which has created a schism between Web vendors (and thus WebRTC fans) like Google and Mozilla and others like Skype-owning Microsoft, VoLTE has united all of the relevant mobile carriers and vendors (with the exception of Apple).
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The third technology that Edholm likes is called RCS, or Rich Communications Services. The term is vague, but the use cases are not. “With RCS, moving from a voice call to a video call is one click. Or sending data like a picture or movie to the person you are talking to is easy,” he writes. “With RCS/JOYN, the potential is easy multimedia communications, retaining your phone number as a specific identity enables new capabilities. Finally, as RCS is integrated with the phone, all of the traditional contact lists and other functions will work with the rich media of RCS.”
Sounds great. But RCS is not the only way to deliver this sort of power and flexibility. Last year, Avaya Labs researchers demoed a technology we’re calling ‘Sessions To Go’ at the Enterprise Connect conference as well as Oracle Openworld.
According to Avaya Labs president Ravi Sethi, Sessions To Go lets you seamlessly move audio or video calls from one device to another. For example, you could start a call/videoconference on your Avaya office phone or PC, but then head out the door and keep talking to the same person on your smartphone WITHOUT hanging up. To transfer the call to your mobile, you simply scan a QR code displayed by your phone or video conferencing app. Perfect in this mobile and BYOD age.
Avaya hasn’t confirmed when Sessions To Go, which is still being developed by our Labs researchers, will ship. But I predict that Sessions To Go will arrive in some of our key UC products sooner than you might expect.
While we’re on the subject of predictions, Avaya Europe recently published an infographic containing seven rather bold predictions about where video conferencing is headed in 2013. You can click on the JPEG version below or download the PDF here and let me know if you agree or disagree.