Unified Communication Federation: Why and How – Questions Answered

Aricent recently concluded a webinar on “Unified Communications Federation: Why and How”. The webinar focused on the advantages of Unified Communication (UC) Federation, and delivered insights into Federation architecture which allows enterprises to collaborate between existing multi-vendor UC platforms with other enterprises. An interactive Q&A session allowed attendees to allay their specific fears about Federation requisites. Here are the answers to all the questions that we couldn't get to during the webinar.

Also, the webinar recording is available and can be viewed online.

In which markets have we seen UC Federation deployments?
We have seen multiple UC Federation deployments in North America. UC Federation is in action at Boeing for enabling seamless communication with a supplier so they can easily interact with engineering teams. This enables an increase in aircraft productivity due to real-time communication with suppliers and vendors. At Enterprise Connect 2012, it was presented that around 4.76% of large organizations worldwide are providing Federation. Europe is maturing in terms of Federation and we foresee more deployments in the next 12 months.

How mature is the UC Federation market? Which markets are the most mature?
UC Federation market is still evolving and service providers see a large opportunity in this. We have seen the North American market as the most mature since UC Federation deployments are currently happening. In Europe, a lot of service providers are exploring the need for Federation and we foresee that Federation deployments will accelerate in the next 12 months. In APAC, the Federation market is set to evolve in more than 24 months.

Do you foresee a world with boundaries becoming a reality in the future? There are so many proprietary and public platforms.
Yes, Seamless communication across enterprise boundaries is becoming the need of the hour. To compete and scale globally and foster innovation, enterprises need to collaborate closely with customers, vendors, partners, and employees. As the UC market matures, vendors will need to expose specific APIs easily enabling collaboration across other platforms.

What is your view on RCS and how different is it from UC Federation?
From the end-user’s perspective, RCS would deliver and enable communications such as instant messaging, video sharing and friend lists. These capabilities would be available on any type of devices using an open communication between devices and networks.

Whereas, UC Federation is achieved by mediating services across a number proprietary and standard protocols, these domains may be in separate enterprises or represent subdomains within the same enterprise. In short, UC Federation complements the RCS to federate the data across enterprise users and IMS clients on any device.

How different is a gateway from a Federation product? Can a service provider manage with a gateway?
A gateway, in short, helps in protocol conversion, whereas a UC Federation product is a more advanced solution. Service providers will not be able to manage with a simple gateway solution because gateways do not offer secure, policy regulated data Federation. Also, it does not bring the benefits of the Centralized Federation model where multiple enterprises can federate irrespective of the technology or protocol usage.

How significant is policy management for a UC Federation solution?
Policy management is the most integral part of a UC Federation solution. Collaboration with suppliers, vendors and partners across enterprises requires effective policy management to keep track of users’ permissions. A UC Federation solution would offer policy regulation at various levels – enterprise level, group level or individual level. The data exchange between enterprises is regulated by the defined traffic.

What is the best way of integrating platforms? Should we use resource adapters?
Yes, resource adapters are the most efficient way of managing platform integration. Resource adapters ranging from XMPP, to SIP/SIMPLE can be developed to integrate proprietary and public platforms.

Can you explain a bit more on Centralized Policy Management?
Centralized policy control enables enterprises to configure settings in one place and then apply them across multiple locations and departments. Federation delivers policy management capabilities for enterprises through configurable data models to define rules on how users from one enterprise should be connected to users from another enterprise. The centralized policy management also defines policies for presence of each in terms of viz, instant message sharing, voice and video call setup, and data sharing, etc.



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