Is Cisco's absence from UCIF really a source of concern?

Opinion

Is Cisco's absence from UCIF really a source of concern?

The new Unified Communications Interoperability Forum announced today has raised eyebrows in the industry after it emerged that Cisco had been invited to join the alliance - which seeks to foster open standards and interoperability in the complex, undefined world of unified comms - but didn't bother to RSVP.

Founder members of the alliance include networking infrastructure stalwart Juniper Networks, IT behemoth HP and plucky video vendor Polycom, which is blazing a trail as one of the few remaining independent mid-market video providers.

The total market for UC is set to expand rapidly over the next couple of years, and the absence of UC kingpin Cisco has puzzled some who say that the vendor's involvement would lend the alliance some much needed credibility amongst end-users.

However, I'm not sure that Cisco's absence is necessarily a problem, or even that extending an invitation to Cisco wasn't just a courtesy for the UCIF founders.

The vendor continues to resolutely plough its own furrow, and coming in on an alliance with HP so soon after their very public falling out might stick in the craws of some at Cisco.

This said, there's no doubt that the involvement of a name like Cisco would increase the organisation's profile and possibly tempt a few big name spenders to start considering the value of UC to their business, although to be perfectly frank more people have probably heard of HP.

And Cisco is definitely into interoperability, so even if they don't sign up right away, they'll be plugging away at their own objectives in this direction.

One thing is certain, which is this will be a massive boon to the resale and service provider channels, and give those whose job it is to sell UC technology a welcome chance to start forging new vendor relationships and upsell product from all the vendors involved.

Further details about the new forum, and a full list of its members, can be found on its website at http://www.ucif.org.

This was first published in May 2010

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