Today, I am addressing an audience at the NTCA IP Possibilities Conference in Kansas City, and the subject is Unified Communications Federation and the business case for offering it as a service by the rural/small ILECs. I am very interested in seeing how many ILECs have an interest in the subject as many do not support large enterprises in their service areas. In this case, an enterprise is defined as having at least 1,000 employees.
UC Federation, simply defined, is communication between different organizations and UC platforms, as if they were all on the same platform. Currently, the best examples of UC Federation have been implemented by Fortune 500 and/or Global 1000 companies. For an enterprise, the business case for UC Federation is the ability to communicate more efficiently and effectively with key members of its economic ecosystem. This includes suppliers, partners and major customers, each of whom must have a UC implementation. Therefore, a successful ecosystem utilizing UC Federation requires implementing a BroadSoft, Cisco or Microsoft UC solution, performing the necessary setup or interoperability (if connecting disparate UC solutions), and managing the UC Federation over time as other enterprises join or experience changes in their UC environments. This is not a simple undertaking. However, for the right ecosystem, it can be invaluable.
The benefits of UC Federation include accelerating communication between enterprises where such communications are deemed mission critical. For example, if the design of a sophisticated product – aircraft carrier, automobile, fighter jet, etc. – crosses the engineering teams of several enterprises, then the project can have increased and improved collaboration if UC Federation is implemented. This saves time, reduces errors and, ultimately, can increase the confidence of the business leaders that the project can be completed on time and within budget.
Many enterprises are implementing UC Federation using internal IT resources, in particular when the UC solution is provided by the same vendor. However, there is a growing business for providing UC Federation in the cloud by service providers. The leading service providers in the space are NextPlane, EsnaTech and Intelepeer. Each of these providers supports multi-platform and disparate implementations of UC solutions. If an ILEC has an opportunity to sell an enterprise UC Federation, I suggest participating in one or more of these service providers’ partner programs.
While it is not impossible for a small business to want to leverage UC Federation, without an enterprise anchor, it is very unlikely. Therefore, the number of UC Federation opportunities in the ILEC space are few. My participation in the panel discussing UC Federation, then, will focus on promoting that the ILECs in attendance consider a private label Hosted UC implementation (such as the ANPI solution) for their many SMBs, and leave UC Federation to the enterprises for self-install or look to an agnostic UC Federation partner.