Is Microsoft playing both sides of the interoperability game?


Jamie Stark, Senior Technical Product Manager at Microsoft, posted some updates on the UC Group Team Blog, starting off by addressing recent developments in interoperability:

First off – on Wednesday, May 19th, industry leaders including HP, Juniper Networks, Logitech / LifeSize, Polycom, and Microsoft announced the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCIF). UCIF is a non-profit, open alliance of worldwide technology companies that will develop interoperability profiles, certification, and testing programs in order to enable UC interoperability scenarios. The UCIF’s vision is to enable interoperability of UC hardware and software across enterprises, service providers, and consumer clouds, as a means of protecting customer’s existing investments, simplifying their transition to more extended UC networks, and generating incremental business opportunity for all stakeholders in the ecosystem. To learn more about UCIF, including the growing list of companies who have joined the forum, check out the website at www.ucif.org

Of course, Microsoft has been delivering practical interoperability solutions to our unified communications customers since the launch of the UC Open Interoperability Program, or UCOIP, in 2007.   The UCOIP is a qualification program for gateways, IP-PBXs, and SIP trunks services that is intended to ensure that customers have seamless experiences with the setup, support, and use of qualified telephony infrastructure with Communications Server.  Any IP-PBX, SIP/PSTN gateway, or SIP Trunking vendor that meets the qualification requirements, conforms to the specifications, and successfully completes the third party testing performed byTekVizion labs will have their solution published on the UCOIP web site.

The establishment of the UCIF has been welcomed news — for the most part — by vendors and industry analysts. Still missing in its membership are biggies like Cisco and Avaya, and the former doesn’t seem to have any intention of becoming an UCIF member anytime soon. Microsoft gladly signed up to be a founding member, and the company historically actively participates in any sort of industry forum because it knows it has a lot of influence being the top software company in the world.

But as Stark stated, Microsoft launched UCOIP in 2007. Don’t let the name fool you, however. Even though the “O” stands for “Open,” it really only pertains to interoperability with Microsoft’s own communications software. The official overview of the program:

The qualification program for SIP/PSTN Gateways, IP-PBXs and SIP Trunking Services ensures that customers have seamless experiences with setup, support, and use of qualified telephony infrastructure and services with Microsoft’s unified communications software and Microsoft Office Communications Online (BPOS-Dedicated).

So on the one hand Microsoft wants in on UCIF, but continues to spread the Interoperability Gospel According to Microsoft.

One has to wonder: How committed is Microsoft in making its UC products interoperable in the general sense?

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