In addition to the product trends the communications industry has experienced over the past year – all of which will be on display in the exhibit hall and topics of conference sessions at ITEXPO (News
) East in Miami – there has been a significant shift towards integration of products and services between vendors as they seek to provide more complete solution sets for their resellers and end users.
The idea is to provide them the very luxury today’s communications solutions are designed to provide for end users – the ability to focus on their core businesses, in this case, selling product. Naturally, they are able to leverage the latest feature and product enhancements, from mobility to HD and more, but by providing a pre-integrated set of solutions, driven by the adoption of common standards, like SIP, the vendor community effectively simplifies the entire sales process, benefitting the entire value chain.
For more on how vendors like AudioCodes (News
) are working more closely with integration partners, as well as how these and other trends are likely to play out at ITEXPO, I spoke with AudioCodes’ director of market development, Alan Percy.
Erik Linask (News - Alert): What are your reflections of 2009, at best, a challenging year for most businesses, yet one that brought success to many in the telecom industry?
Alan Percy (News - Alert):
It was a year mixed with some incredible challenges and surprises. Clearly the economic slowdown that took hold in the first few months of the year created great uncertainty for the entire industry and re-evaluation of business plans, but these challenges were buffered by what we see as some very positive signs. The growth of SIP Trunking, Unified Communications, HD VoIP, improved interoperability and solution integration were all successes that brought new business that countered the economic slowdown.
EL: What is/are the most significant trend(s) to come out of 2009 that will drive the IP Communications space into the next decade?
AP: I’m starting to see a shift in business models that will affect us for the next few years. Looking back a couple years, it seemed our industry was following the PC/IT world business model with separate community of software application developers and then a complementary group of hardware vendors, leaving it to the channels and VARs to integrate the various components.
However, while some were up to the task, it required significant technical knowledge of a number of different vendors’ products and technologies, significantly limiting their ability to deliver solutions quickly and without a lot of integration costs. Lately, it seems there’s renewed interest in pre-integrated solutions, having the software and hardware vendors performing the integration work and dramatically simplifying the solution. The end customer still ends up with a “best of breed” solution, but the VAR didn’t have to go through a science project to get the solution working.
EL: Will 2010 be the year HD audio takes off? If not, when?
AP: This year will, indeed, be the year that HD VoIP does finally get some legs. We’re seeing HD-capable hardware maturing, software applications that support HD, and both enterprise and service provider pilots around the globe. Once you hear it, you will be hooked, too.
EL: How do you view the impact of the growth of the open source community on the overall communications industry?
AP: Open Source has enabled many new a creative applications to come to market at very affordable price points; expect the trend to continue. SIP has been a tremendous enabler for the open source developers, allowing interoperability between open source and commercial products that would be otherwise very difficult. For AudioCodes, open source applications have created opportunities for our media gateways that are needed to connect these applications to the PSTN, user desktops or other existing equipment.
EL: How will your company build on the momentum of the past decade to continue on a growth path into 2010 and beyond? What new and innovative products are in store for your customers?
AP: An important new product initiative for AudioCodes is our BusinessPLUS bundled solutions. This effort brings together the AudioCodes hardware products (gateways, MSBGs, server modules and IP Phones) and combines it with our partners’ software applications to create ready-to-install solutions for the market. As hinted earlier, we’ve solved one of the market limitations and dramatically reduced the complexity for VARs to respond to their customer requirements. As an added bonus, we’ve solved a business model challenge that makes the platform more profitable for both the software partner and AudioCodes.
EL: What is the most important reason your booth is a “must visit” for ITEXPO attendees?
At this ITEXPO, we’ll be showing the first two of our BusinessPLUS solutions, including one based on Digium’s (News
) Asterisk open source platform and another based on Nortel’s Software Communications System, or “SCS.” From what I can tell, this is the first time in our industry that you can buy a complete hardware platform from a single vendor and then choose from a number of pre-integrated software products.
EL: What are you looking forward to most at ITEXPO East 2010?
AP: I always find the opportunity to meet with our customers and partners in a face-to-face setting at ITEXPO exhilarating. With air travel becoming so time consuming and costly, the opportunity to meet with a number of our partners in one comfortable setting is both a wise financial and excellent time investment.
EL: What is the one product you are hoping to see from the communications industry in 2010?
AP: For this next decade, I’m really looking forward to seeing us achieve “Universal Broadband,” basically the IP equivalent of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, bringing affordable broadband to rural communities and the rest of our great country. Not only will this create business opportunities for our industry, but it will also raise educational opportunities, open up new tele-worker job opportunities, and allow more businesses and governments to go 100 percent electronic and eliminate costly printed forms, catalogs and booklets.
Erik Linask is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Kelly McGuire