So, day one started out a little rough when the winter from hell in Boston struck again and postponed my flight by 4 hours on Sunday night. Hertz only had one person working and 15 people in line at 1 in the morning. Getting going was difficult, but things have been looking much brighter since I got to the show. A couple of early takeaways:
WebRTC is Taking Center Stage
Seriously, you can't make it 30 feet without hearing someone say "WebRTC".
Interactive Intelligence announced their new WebRTC native UC suite called PureCloud and it is pretty slick. They have made a major investment to reinvent themselves from a premise-based contact center solution to a cloud-centric, WebRTC communications and collaboration platform, and to show their commitment to getting it adopted, they are giving the first component, called PureCloud Collaborate, away for free to an unlimited number of users (didn't I say that "free as a business model" would be showing up at this event?). The initial offering is about empowering internal teams and offers presence management, IM, video conferencing, group meetings and document sharing. To support enterprises they have tightly integrated the solution with Active Directory, have deployed the platform on Amazon Cloud for scalability, are offering Five 9's level reliability, deliver enterprise grade security and single sign on. They have also put a lot of energy into making WebRTC as stable as possible (since as we wrote about here, the standard is still not yet stable), offering support from Chrome and Firefox, as well as mobile apps (I didn't hear about Internet Explorer support). Very solid new offering and the price is right. In Q2 expect to see PureCloud Communication which extends the WebRTC platform outside the enterprise with a cloud-based IP PBX.
Genband is also also doing some cool things with WebRTC, not only with their Kandy platform for integrating WebRTC functionality into customer's applications, but also with the announcement of a new WebRTC integration with Lync. In this instance, companies that have Lync and are using it for Presence and IM, can leverage Genband's WebRTC container - which is tightly integrated with Lync via APIs and appears to users as if you never leave - to handle voice and video calls.
Twilio is cruising along with their WebRTC development platform, exhibiting with partners / clients that are showing many cool examples of how they are leveraging WebRTC inside their applications. They also just announced a SIP Trunking offering looking to make deploying WebRTC easier for their customers.
As I thought, there are a lot of UC and UCaaS solution offerings. It's hard to keep track of them all or differentiate, but I will keep digging. There is so much going on in the communications space right now, and so many players, that the messaging is getting a bit confusing with each company looking for new words to quickly explain what they do and how they are different.
Keep your eyes open for a very 'Un-Avaya like" contact center announcement on Tuesday. I can't talk about it yet, but it is a major announcement with another giant tech player and continues Avaya's drive to extend communications onto the platforms that business people use, not just desktop PCs.
Monitoring and management is definitely a hot area as businesses look to deliver the best possible performance with their communications systems. To do this they need end to end visibility across the entire system. According to Riverbed, which provides these types of solutions, there are four pillars to UC application management: Configuration management, automated testing, performance management and remote troubleshooting. Expect to hear more about this in a few weeks.
There was a lot of energy on the show floor yesterday afternoon. Stay tuned for more updates.