HP pushes heterogeneous path to unified communications

Company takes on monolithic UC players by combining consulting with offerings from Microsoft, Avaya, Polycom, and Alcatel-Lucent

Several big-name tech companies continue to roll out and hone their respective UC (unified communications) offerings, including Microsoft with its recently unveiled Lync 2010 offering, Cisco and its Unified Computing System, and various open source options. HP, however, is taking a different approach to helping organizations' unify all manner of communication -- voice, video, and text -- among all manner of client devices, from desktop machines to telepresence suites to mobile devices.

The company has announced a new set of services to help customers proceed down the increasingly complex UC path in a heterogeneous manner, drawing on offerings from a set of able technology partners in Microsoft, Avaya, Polycom, and Alcatel-Lucent.

HP's tack here isn't necessarily to push for clients to do an outright rip and replace of their existing, siloed communication systems, which might include older analog-based phone systems, newer VoIP systems, in-house Web conferencing tools, clients running different types of platforms, and so forth. Rather, the intent is help ease customers into UC while creating a flexible groundwork for future integration down the road.

HP's three new services include Voice Transformation Solutions, Virtual Workplace Solutions, and Network Readiness Services. Voice Transformation Solutions are aimed at helping customer establish a single conduit for voice, data, and video via an IP, uniting VoIP with traditional phone systems and providing a single interface for voice messaging and audioconferencing. HP says it can help companies create the foundation for more flexible communications infrastructure, one that can integrate other forms of communication and other types of clients down the road.

The Virtual Workplace Solutions is aimed at helping customers adopt a single, cohesive platform integrating unified messaging, Web, video, and data. The goal: Better collaboration among end-users, possibly leveraging tools like document sharing and social networking. The elusive vision here is to enable UC among any and all clients, including mobile devices. What's more, the vision is to incorporate voice and other communications tools directly within applications when possible. HP does acknowledge that for the time being, fully seamless UC across any and all devices remains a pipe dream until more open standards emerge. That means, for example, that iPhone users and Android users at the same organization might have different experiences on their respective devices.

Finally, the Network Readiness Services, as the name suggests, are designed to help customers determine whether their existing networks are sufficiently robust and secure to deliver a consistent, reliable UC experience. Video and telepresence, for example, can put a heavy burden on a network.

Organizations are interested in adopting videoconferencing more broadly, according to David Cook, strategy and operations lead for HP's Global UC Portfolio, Technology Consulting. "Customers in large part are always interested in talking about video. They are finding out if it makes sense," he says. "It's not as boutique as it used to be. It can be deployed to the masses."

This story, "HP pushes heterogeneous path to unified communications," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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