Several unified communications vendors including Microsoft, Polycom and Hewlett-Packard have formed the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum, a group with the aim of making sure all the pieces needed for collaboration will work together.
UCIF also includes Juniper Networks and Logitech among its founders. Cisco Systems and Avaya had been invited, but had not joined the organisation.
Unified communications (UC) is the combination of voice, video and text for collaboration among people in one enterprise or among different organisations. The point of a UC system is to be able to smoothly shift from one mode of communication to another and to combine the various modes in one session depending on which tools each participant has.
Because it typically involves a variety of systems, often from different vendors, UC can be hard to achieve in the real world, Polycom co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Jeff Rodman says. An additional problem is that there are multiple protocols to choose from in each of these areas and different legitimate ways to implement the same protocol, he says.
UCIF ultimately wants to make most UC products work together smoothly, so users can, for example, easily turn a text-messaging conversation into a desktop videoconference and bring other users with telepresence rooms into that same video session. It will begin identifying the tasks enterprises most want to do with UC and making sure products from UCIF member companies can smoothly carry out those tasks, Rodman says.