There's no UC in cloud, no wait, there is actually

Recent analysis in the perpetual quest for “what’s the next killer app for developers to focus on” zone has combined two of our most ubiquitously discussed topics…

… cloud computing and unified communications (UC).

But more specifically, the opportunity to now bring these two streams of technology into unison and develop applications for this arena. This is a discussion point that could fuel extended debate.

NOTE: A definition attributed to International Engineering Consortium has specified that Unified Communications can be denoted as all forms of call and multimedia/cross-media message-management functions controlled by an individual user for both business and social purposes.

Cloud computing models have largely proven themselves to be adaptable and flexible enough to support any traditional terrestrial IT scenario or use case model. So will UC fit in the cloud and should we be ready for a “next wave paradigm shift” movement in this space?

The Computer Weekly Developer Network asked three vendors for their opinions:

“Whilst 2011 was the year that the hype around cloud began to dissipate and companies tentatively dipped their toes in the water, 2012 did see many more companies taking the plunge with cloud, putting more of their systems and applications in the cloud as we enter 2013. As the market matures so user experiences and expectations are set to also now develop further,” said Ian Foddering, CTO & technical director, Cisco UK & Ireland.

The finance sector is leading the way…

Cisco’s CloudWatch 2012 report shows where the most activity and enthusiasm for cloud computing resides. Last year’s front runners, web conferencing (13%), video conferencing (12%) and unified communications (12%) have all drawn investment from between a quarter and a third of companies and look set for further growth over the next 12 months. The finance sector is leading the way in adoption of unified communications with 32% having already invested in cloud solutions and 36% of companies in the finance sector have invested in web conferencing (36%), only email hosting and back up more likely to already be in the cloud. Healthy growth is forecast in these collaboration services over the next 12 months” added Cisco’s Foddering.

One silver bullet

“UC adoption was once hampered by a lack of real integration and in many cases, prohibitive cost models – the onset of cloud mitigates these to some extent – both the upfront budget required and the time and complexity of implementing one silver bullet solution is reduced,” said Caryn Johnston, UC specialist, at Logicalis UK.

“Cloud means it doesn’t have to be all or nothing for UC, and we’ve found that for organisations starting off, or for those that have been burnt in the past, implementing solutions via the cloud is an easy and effective way to test the waters and get a path to full UC and Collaboration underway,” she added.

A defining view of the future?

“The service providers of the future will need to have all data, hosting and voice capabilities in-house, under their own control, on their own network. 80% of IT managers are convinced of the benefits, yet the adoption of cloud-based UC is tiny. This tells me that there’s a clear gap in the market,” said Campbell Williams, group strategy & marketing director of Six Degrees Group.

“The biggest problem is that there aren’t many providers that can offer the full package. One with the right in-house IP telephony and UC skills who have a cloud platform and their own datacentre racks, who can also provide SIP trunking through their own IP soft switching infrastructure, and finally can deliver resiliently over a next generation network. The appetite is clearly there; unfortunately, too many of the resellers and service providers out there are silo-based and lack the end-to-end expertise to deliver a fully converged, cloud-based solution,” he added.