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Making interoperability work in unified communications and collaboration

As we kick off this year’s Enterprise Connect conference, one subject I am discussing a lot with customers is interoperability. This topic is always evolving, but our customers’ need for interoperability has remained the same. So what are the customers telling us about their interoperability requirements and concerns within unified communications and collaboration, and what is Cisco’s approach to addressing those?

What customers want:

At its heart, interoperability is about enabling the free flow of communication across boundaries – whether those boundaries are geographical, across firewalls between businesses and their ecosystems or customers. Customers want to be able to share information quickly and easily across different systems from multiple vendors.

Customers also stress the need for protecting their investments in existing systems and extending their capabilities to new types of work scenarios. These systems include infrastructure (such as Active Directory or Exchange or Notes), voice and video systems (such as Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager and TelePresence and competitive products from other vendors), and desktop or enterprise productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office, IBM Lotus, SAP, Salesforce.com and others). They must work within heterogeneous environments and accommodate new solutions as they come to market.

But that two systems work together is not enough. They must come together as seamlessly as possible to ensure an uncompromised user experience

Finally, this all needs to happen across platforms and devices, particularly as we move toward a post-PC era of many different devices – from smartphones and tablets in the field to desktop computers and immersive room-based systems. These devices need to be blended into customers’ existing collaboration environments while providing a consistent and compelling user experience.

This is what customers want.

What the industry needs to do:

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VDI: Creating a Successful Virtual Desktop Architecture

During a recent Desktop Virtualization Webcast titled VDI with Unified Communications: What Architects Need to Know, one of the key takeaways was that Unified Communications (UC) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) teams need to work together and look at the larger user environment in which they are delivering the IT services.  When the audience was asked how many of them were collaborating with their UC teams, 53% said they were currently engaging with their organization’s UC teams in their desktop virtualization projects.

Of course, this may be a biased sample, since the survey is of the webcast attendees, which mainly include IT professionals who are interested in the intersection of VDI and UC.  However, I believe this is a sign of a growing trend in enterprise IT.

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Making the jump to IP Telephony

It had been 2009 when we first did a show breaking down the ‘how to’ for making the move from a traditional PBX (TDM) to a IP based system.  The industry has come a long way and we are well past the days of trying to make the technology argument. Its the only way to go these days thankfully but questions still come up on where the gotcha’s may lie…so we did what we do best…we made a video.

The episode itself is long gone but I always think its fun to look back.  Here is the promo for that first show we did..

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Unified Communications on the Unified Compute System

What is the saying, two great tastes that taste great (better) together?  This is in essence, the best way to describe the value of putting your Cisco Unified Communications on the Cisco Unified Computing Platform.  While its certainly logical that we do something like this but and to the benefit of our customers, we have steadily increased the number of materials that help explain not just why this can be a huge cost and workflow savings, but also how one goes about doing it.

You can get a lot of written details but we of course suggest you watch one of our latest in the ‘Fundamentals’ series to get you ready.

Bonus points for the learners among you after the jump.

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Barry O’Sullivan: 2012 Collaboration Predictions

This week in No Jitter, Cisco Collaboration Senior Vice President and General Manager Barry O’Sullivan looked into his crystal ball and elaborated on his predictions for 2012.

In an excerpt, Barry predicts:

“1. Post PC-era will explode

2. Video will break through

3. Contact Centers will evolve as customers choose to interact with companies in radically new ways

4. Companies will use the cloud and desktop virtualization to provide collaboration capabilities across the enterprise

5. Social business processes will become mainstream for many.”

Read Barry’s predictions in more detail and the follow-up answers Barry gave to Eric Krapf’s questions. I trust you’ll enjoy reading the article.  Send in your predictions for 2012 for collaboration, video, social software, and contact center.

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