When it comes to unified communications and collaboration (UC&C), three factors will shape its future evolution over the next five years: Cloud, mobility and video.
Today, demand for cloud-based UC continues to see double-digit growth while premise-based UC system demand has slowed. While cloud, premise-based, and hybrid architectures will all continue to exist and grow for at least the next five years, Current Analysis (News - Alert) predicts that cloud will become the dominant model.
“Cloud-based UC&C got its start when enterprise found out that IP PBX (News - Alert) and UC systems worked just as well (or better) in a remote data center when operating as a managed service, freeing corporate IT resources to focus on vertical business requirements rather than a horizontal communications application and infrastructure,” explained Current Analysis analyst Larry Hettick, in a column. “As virtualization and common server resources began to better accommodate real-time applications, carrier-scale hosted UC&C platforms became a reality that enabled shared resources between organizations.”
Hand-in-hand with that is the mobility piece: Cloud-based UC means that the applications can be accessed from any connected device, on any network—which dovetails with widespread adoption of smartphones and Wi-Fi.
“Mobile devices will continue to grow as a preferred endpoint for UC&C services,” Hettick noted.
Then there’s video, which has already eclipsed data and voice combined as the dominant traffic type on global IP networks. In a UC&C environment, video continues to be a driver for uptake, as affordable cloud based software and enterprise-grade hardware solutions have become a mainstream option for companies, replacing the proprietary, heavy gear of old that was reserved only for the largest companies with budgets to match. For instance, plenty of UC&C endpoints, like the VC series from Yealink (News - Alert), support video collaboration at all levels within an organization.
Hettick also explained that real-time communications technology (e.g. WebRTC), Microsoft’s (News - Alert) Skype for Business and new collaboration tools will also factor into what comes next for UC&C, particularly as telcos transition to an all-VoIP network, and the fact that in the next three years, mobile operators will see more video minutes than voice minutes on their networks—including streaming video, along with point-to-point and multi-point video conferencing.
Edited by Maurice Nagle