Stormy Weather for the East Coast, West Coast – and for Skype

The year is ending, but not without a bang: Storms on the east and west coasts show the value of unified communications for teleworkers. At almost the same time, Skype's problems raise concerns for IT departments. This – and looks ahead and behind by two industry observers – punctuate a significant year in the evolution of unified communications.

 By Carl Weinschenk
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Perhaps the two things that occurred during the past few weeks that impact unified communications (UC) are the crashing of the Skype network and the massive weather disruptions on both coasts of the United States.


The Skype situation is unfortunate for its subscribers. It also couldn't have come at a more inopportune time for the company, which is heading into the home stretch of its initial public offering. Skype, which is seeking more revenue-generating services, is increasingly looking at the business market. In September, it partnered with Avaya and embedded some of its functionality into the vendor's gear.

In light of the outage, companies have to be extremely careful in their use of Skype for anything near mission-critical in nature. The widespread nature of the outage and the fact that much of the system resides on the open Internet should raise yellow – not red – flags.

The other big news that impacts UC is the weather. The blizzard hit the East Coast the day after Christmas. Today is Dec. 29, and the mayor of New York City still is not claiming to have all the streets plowed.

Certainly, there are similar tales of woe in northern California. Needless to say, the point is that many of the advances made during the past couple of years make it possible to have a high level of UC functionality in homes and on the road. It's certainly a worthwhile investment.

In an unreladed note, here are two, nice year-end pieces: VoIP Norm takes a page, he says, from Oprah's book – though it seems more like "The Sound of Music" to me – and names his favorite things from 2010. It's a good list that stays mostly – but not exclusively – on UC. It's a good list, and includes his favorite slippers.

Finally, Zeus Kerravala, the senior vice president of enterprise research for the Yankee Group, shared predictions for 2011 at No Jitter. There are six, so it's possible to quickly list them: “session” becomes a mainstream term; HP “dumps” the 3Com VoIP products; Lync doesn't live up to expectations (except, I supposed, those who had low expectations); tablets grow by double digits at the expense of desktops; Dell acquires a network infrastructure vendor; and Cisco treads water.

I have one prediction: A lot of interesting things will happen in the UC sector in 2011.

This article was originally published on Dec 30, 2010
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