As enterprises seek greater flexibility, cost efficiency, and less technology to manage in communications and collaboration, analysts at International Data Corp (IDC) are seeing a rapid shift in demand from hardware-based, on-premise unified communication (UC) solutions to software-based and cloud-based solutions.
Amid growing interest in voice and video conferencing, document and screen sharing, email and instant messaging, enterprises are poised to upgrade from end-of-life UC and PBX systems to IP-based tools and UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) offerings that promise cost benefits, flexibility and agility.
Indeed, IDC expects the Asia Pacific excluding Japan UCaaS market to surge to US$659 million in 2018, at a five-year CAGR of 89%.
Meanwhile, changing consumer preferences have prompted a shift away from operator-controlled voice and messaging services to ‘over-the-top’, web-based applications such as Skype, What’sApp and iMessage.
"With the user experience of mobile devices improving, end-users can start to perform more complex tasks on those devices," says Ian Song, research manager for Enterprise Mobility at IDC Asia/Pacific.
Whatever the UC environment, enterprises’ ultimate aim is to gain competitive advantages – from delivering better customer service through multi-channel contact centers to improving collaboration between staff and other stakeholders.
Context and continuity
Based on these trends, UC tools must be seamless – enabling multimodal communications on diverse endpoints – for improved employee efficiency.
But the number of communications tools and devices that employees use on a regular basis continues to grow. They have access to telephony, conferencing, calendaring, messaging, presence, video, social and more, and they expect to have secure access anywhere, anytime on the device of their choice.
Likewise, too much context switching as users move across disparate applications and endpoints increases costs of collaboration and decreases employee productivity. Setting up a videoconference should be simple regardless of the end-user’s device and application.
The sensible alternative is integrated real-time and near real-time capabilities that enable employees to communicate and collaborate within their workflow. Emerging technologies such as WebRTC simplify deployments and increase capabilities without additional investments.
WebRTC is a standard drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium and the Internet Engineering Task Force to help enterprises extend the security, reliability and service quality of enterprise VoIP and UC to browser-based communications. The open standards framework eliminates the need for special-purpose client software and onerous plug-ins and downloads.
In other words, WebRTC breaks platform and vendor lock-ins, and delivers real-time voice, video, and collaboration directly to any browser-enabled device over any network – public or private, Wi-Fi, mobile broadband, or wired LAN. It increases employee productivity while eliminating cost and complexity.
“We predict nearly 4 billion WebRTC-supporting devices by the end of 2016,” says Dean Bubley, founder and director of Disruptive Analysis. “New platforms – such as Oracle Communications’ WebRTC Session Controller – can help enterprises deploy next-generation services and capabilities with a high level of dependability.”
But the WebRTC framework addresses only simple peer-to-peer communications. So, server-side service enablers are needed to extend the security and reliability corporate VoIP and UC services to the browser.
Unlike a simple gateway, a service enabler protects signaling and media flows associated with WebRTC endpoints; maintains session continuity during network timeouts and hand-offs, browser resets, or page reloads; and protects against service overloads and to deliver high service quality.
Offering these advantages, the standards-based Oracle Communications Unified Communications Suite (OCUCS) integrates with the Oracle Communications WebRTC Session Controller (OCWSC) to connect WebRTC-enabled applications with each other and with SIP-based enterprise UC systems. The solution supports standards-based identity management and delivers a seamless web-to-SIP gateway with enterprise-grade reliability and security. Convergence, the web client included with the solution, offers seamless real-time and non-real time capabilities such as 1-1 and multi-party audio/video calling, session transfer between browsers and SIP end points and screen sharing.
Oracle Communications’ Unified Communication and Collaboration solution can be deployed as a business collaboration cloud service, integrated customer care portals, multi-party real-time messaging, and click-to-collaborate services.
The solution also delivers a rich set of scalable, secure and cost-effective communications capabilities. For example, the Oracle Communications Messaging Server scales to millions of users. It consolidates e-mail servers while guarding privacy through user authentication, session encryption, and anti-spam and anti-virus content filtering.
Other capabilities include the Oracle Communications Instant Messaging Server, a standards-based application-cum-platform that delivers presence information, voice and mobile client integration, and extended real-time messaging. The scalable platform can be used to develop contextual collaboration services, push notification systems and multi-party messaging systems.
With integrated access to voice, video, screen sharing, e-mail, calendar, address book and messaging services, the next-generation enterprises have essentially found a way to make smartphones and tablets richer alternatives to traditional PBX phones in the new communication and collaboration landscape.
This is a QuestexAsia feature commissioned by Oracle Communications.