Communications convergence has taken many forms, some of which are still going on today. One key convergence from the 1980’s involved the converging of open-systems based computing with telecommunications. The computer-telephony integration (CTI) industry was born, and from that, Dialogic emerged as a key player. The economics of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware in the form of servers and communication boards, with the open-systems, open API approach yielded best-of-breed applications and solutions. Literally, the vertical era was turned on its side with its menu of ‘open systems-based, take what you need, build innovative applications’ approach. This is still evident today in different forms, such as the Asterisk open-source PBX and software building blocks for the data and telephony converged era.
Yes, another key convergence, perhaps THE key convergence that is now coming to full fruition is the convergence of the core data and voice networks. In the beginning, in the late 1990’s, VoIP was a strange and alien concept. The convergence was done by adding data to voice architectures or by adding voice to data architectures. But today, with the emergence of systems architected from the ground up to be truly converged voice and data systems, the quality has gone up and we are truly in the converged world.
These convergences have spawned industries – the “VoIP” industry includes gateways to the tune of approximately $2B/year Total Available Market size (TAM), Softswitches to the tune of approximately $1B/year TAM, Session Border Controllers at about $500M and growing, etc. New players have emerged, both in the service provider side and infrastructure side because of this. Who could have imagined 15 years ago that Cisco or even Microsoft would be key players in the voice realm?
Over the next few weeks, I’ll explore communications convergence in more detail. Read my blog next week to learn about the pros and cons of convergence.