Rob Arnold's Blog

Enterprise Session Management May Be the Perfect Storm for UC

29 Aug 2011 | by Rob Arnold
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We recently wrapped up a Market Insight on next-generation UC architectures. The study specifically focuses on enterprise session management solutions. Please watch for it to be published in coming weeks.

For purposes of the study Frost & Sullivan defines session management solutions, or architectures, as those that incorporate premises-based SIP session management and IP telephony applications, SIP trunking services and enterprise session border controllers to integrate/unify disparate voice infrastructure (TDM/IP and multi-vendor) to achieve centralized control, uniform dial plan and ubiquitous access to central UC applications for all end users.

A primary value proposition of these advanced, SIP-based architectures is the ability to unify multi-vendor networks and disparate components, whether hardware or software, to improve intra-company communications and enable operational efficiencies of centralization. Session management environments provide enterprises with phased migrations to IP communications that leverage existing investments in legacy platforms, orchestrate the rollout of IP telephony and UC, and scale to connect the islands of IP communications that exist in a company’s network.

There are broadly two types of competitors in the enterprise session management market: applications developers (e.g., PBX and UC vendors) and infrastructure vendors (e.g., media gateway and SBC manufacturers). Elements from both camps are typically required to create session management architectures.

While Avaya is credited as a thought leader and innovator in the space, a number of UC solutions developers now offer session management solutions of their own. Most notable among these are UC applications developers such as Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, and Siemens Enterprise Communications. Developers position session management solutions as defensive strategies to protect and migrate their installed customers, and as offensive tools to move their own laggard customers as well as competitive accounts toward end-to-end IP communicaitons capabilities.

Infrastructure suppliers such as Acme Packet, AudioCodes, NET and others have increased concentration on the opportunty. Infrastructure vendors have generally stuck to their knitting by providing solutions for network connectivity, security, interoperability and integration. 

While not optimized for all enterprises, we generally believe that session management may be the perfect storm of capabilities needed to help to move enterprises toward the end-to-end IP communications capabilities that promise to unleash the full potential of UC and address a number of impediments to adoption.

Market trends coming together to form this perfect storm include:

  • Ability to protect and prolong use of existing enterprise investments
  • Increased adoption of industry-standard SIP by vendors and service providers
  • Emergence of SIP trunking services as lower-cost means for traffic transport, and carrier and PSTN connectivity
  • Momentum of centralization and enterprise data-center deployments
  • Emergence of virtual machines to more affordably deploy applications
  • Increasing demand for always-on (e.g., mobility, IM and social software) and high-bandwidth video applications
  • Emergence of cloud-based solutions that lower the cost and complexity of deployment
  • Maturation and increased feature functionality available with hosted offerings
  • Flexibility to create hybrid solutions integrating cloud/hosted elements with CPE
  • Increasing availability of professional and managed services to support advanced capabilities