Everyone is asking where Cisco is, but I think the question really should be “where is Avaya?”. Why aren’t they taking advantage of a prime opportunity? Both Avaya and Cisco have addressed requests to join the UCIF with what is a standard response of “it’s not a standards body”. What both Avaya and Cisco are not recognizing is that no one in the industry is implementing these standards the same anyway. All the major players are already taking part in the standards bodies and yet everyone still implements them differently. This means there needs to be a new approach to implementing standards.
So what of Avaya? They have the opportunity right now to put pressure on one of their number one competitors in the IP-PBX and UC space, Cisco. It’s not like Avaya are going to be alone in the UCIF. Avaya have recognized that many of their key partners have already joined. Most obviously HP, but let’s not forget, Acme Packets, Juniper, Polycom and LifeSize.
Below is a comment by Deb Kline from Avaya:
When asked about its interest in and opinion of the UCIF effort, Avaya spokeswoman Deb Kline responded: “Avaya has long been a supporter of open standards and has actively participated in dozens of standards bodies to drive cross-industry interoperability. These include the International Multimedia Teleconferencing Consortium, Internet Engineering Task Force and the SIP Forum to name but a few. UCIF is not a standards body. We believe true multi-vendor interoperability will be dependent upon active participation in the appropriate standards bodies by the majority of players in the UC market place. “That said, we have deep and long-standing relationships with many the key players in UCIF, including HP, Polycom, LifeSize and Juniper and others, and we will leverage these partnerships to see how UCIF evolves,” she added. “Avaya may choose to join in the future.” Source here.
I think Avaya are missing a key opportunity to show they are committed to UC interoperability beyond standards bodies. Cisco is only interested in participating on their own terms and dominate yet another industry body which makes me think they will never join. While taking the same stance as Cisco may seem to be hold some sort of power position it really isn’t. Any current success or work the UCIF does, Avaya can take no credit for and in the end with so many companies (including Avaya partners) signing up to feel the pain of interoperability not being part of the UCIF is making Avaya look like an outcast.
The UCIF have already started to work on feeling the pain so to speak by recently holding a come one come all adhoc interoperability meeting. Where else has this happened in such a public forum? Nowhere. We are seeing for the first time what industry standards are lacking for interoperability to be real. Real world testing. I am sure some companies are saying we do interoperability testing every day and implement according to standards but yet here we are.
The whole sit back and wait attitude is somewhat disappointing on Avaya’s behalf. To Cisco’s credit at least they have taken a position and said we won’t join until some changes take place. But not taking a position shows a lack of industry leadership. I am not sure what message they want to send to customers but when they say we are waiting to see things how things evolve says to me we are letting others lead the industry while we follow.
In the end I hope Avaya does join the UCIF. With their commitment to UC and standards bodies having the large vendors take part in the UCIF with an equal footing is important. This is an important move forward not just as we move forward with on-premise UC solution but also with cloud based solutions.