February 2013

Enterprise Connect 2013

Enterprise Connect 2013

The enterprise communications industry is in the middle of a major transition. An industry that was built on “big-iron” PBXs is moving toward more open, flexible multimedia infrastructures in which communications functions are interwoven with the networks, applications, and business processes that power the enterprise. Accordingly, the hottest technologies of 2013 are those that represent the need to connect to legacy networks, upgrade current IP communications systems, and look to a future where real-time voice and video are an inherent feature of the Web and all other networks.

At Enterprise Connect 2013, which takes place March 18-21 at the Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando, FL, four of the key topics expected to draw big crowds to session rooms and sponsor booths are SIP Trunking; Unified Communications; Mobility; and WebRTC. Other tracks will focus on important topics–including the Cloud; Contact Centers; Social Networking; Video; and Management—but it’s SIP Trunking, UC, Mobility and WebRTC that will likely draw the most attention.

SIP Trunking represents a link to the past, in a way. SIP Trunks are the IP access lines that enterprises are adopting to connect their private IP telephony infrastructures with the legacy PSTN from which much of their inbound traffic still comes. At the most basic level, SIP Trunks replace PRIs, and in so doing promise large savings to the enterprise—estimates range from 30% to 70% savings thanks to more efficient IP traffic engineering and lower cost to manage and operate. But it’s not just the cost savings. Even as SIP trunks link enterprise IP telephony infrastructures to legacy telephony networks, they also point the way forward, because SIP trunks are best adopted in an infrastructure where voice is centralized in the corporate datacenter—a major step forward from the days of PBXs working largely on their own at each site. Also, once SIP trunks are in place, Unified Communications applications can be deployed enterprise-wide.

Which brings us to the next hot trend at Enterprise Connect. UC encompasses many communications trends and means different things to different enterprises. To some enterprises, it means the integration of communications functions into business process applications like Microsoft Office, SAP, Oracle, etc. To many enterprises, UC means Microsoft Lync, the communications application that many have already adopted for instant messaging/presence—a logical extension of their Exchange infrastructure—and which now offers PBX functionality. To adopt Lync or not to adopt it is a choice that many enterprises confront, and several sessions at Enterprise Connect aim to help enterprises with this decision.

Another hot topic that’s a major challenge for today’s enterprise is Mobility. In many enterprises, mobile communications have become the largest single communications expense, and the expectation is that the power of mobility will make it grow in importance this year and for the foreseeable future. Smartphones and mobile applications present the opportunity for unprecedented productivity gains and new ways of working, but they also force the enterprise decision maker to find better ways to exercise control over the costs, security and management of these devices. This task is made even more urgent by the fact that most enterprises must contend with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon. Enterprise Connect has devoted an entire track to mobility, with multiple sessions aimed at helping enterprise IT/telecom decision-makers deal with smartphones, tablets, BYOD management, and cost containment.

Finally, one of the hot topics at Enterprise Connect this year is likely not going to emerge as a procurement item in 2013, but its implications are huge and it’s already a major issue for discussion: WebRTC. WebRTC is an emerging standard that will allow Web browsers to be inherently voice/video-enabled, so that any website will be capable of supporting two-way multimedia without the user having to download any client like Skype or having to use any softphone client from the enterprise communications vendors. This standard is not yet universally adopted; Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox support it, but Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple Safari do not—yet. Whether the latter two will eventually support it is not known, but if the standard gains widespread acceptance via Google and Mozilla, it’ll be hard for Microsoft and Apple to resist the momentum.

In the meantime, there are lots of issues to explore around WebRTC: How it might enable interoperability between multiple vendors’ enterprise communications systems; what video capabilities it might provide; its likely role in voice-enabling e-commerce sites to revolutionize the contact center. So Enterprise Connect is presenting a one-day “conference within a conference” on Monday, March 18, to explore the details of WebRTC, starting with a tutorial presented by two of the leaders in developing the standard—Cullen Jennings of Cisco and Jan Linden of Google.

Enterprise communications professionals have important choices to make in the coming year, and they have an unprecedented set of issues to consider as they make those choices: How much continued investment should they make in “legacy” IP-PBX platforms? What do they do if they need to increase capacity or upgrade very old TDM systems, yet have not yet seen a vision of the future architecture that is compelling—or even feasible to build today? And if they are ready to move ahead aggressively into the future, who are the most forward-looking vendors with whom they should be partnering?

Enterprise Connect, now in its 23rd year, has a long tradition of keeping its stakeholders current on the technology and markets that shape their industry. For more than two decades, buyers and sellers have come to Enterprise Connect to meet, discuss, and do business, and this year will be no exception.

Drive your migration to next-gen communications and collaboration at Enterprise Connect 2013, March 18-21 in Orlando. The conference program covers the full range of platforms, services and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. For more information and to register with our Priority Code MPPSO13 to save 30% on onsite pricing for Conference Passes or get a FREE Expo Pass at www.enterpriseconnect.com/orlando.