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The Convergence of IT and Communications

by Geoffrey Murase, Solutions Marketing, End-User Computing

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the International Avaya User Group (IAUG) conference in Orlando, Florida.  The name of the conference was aptly titled “Converge2013” and brought together almost 3,000 users and partners of Avaya unified communications and networking gear.  VMware was one of the sponsors of the event and we met many Avaya customers who came by our exhibitor booth.

It was interesting to see that a few “old school” telephony administrators didn’t know who VMware was.  VMwho?  Historically, the IT department handled all of the servers, networking, and applications while the telephony administrator managed the phone system.  However, as adoption of Voice over IP has become more prevalent, there has been a convergence of these roles.  On the virtualization front, communications applications can be seen as just another app and deployed as a virtual machine in the datacenter.  In addition, on the end-user front, as softphones increasingly are used both at the office desk and on mobile devices, desktop virtualization can simplify management and security of communications.

VMware has worked closely with Avaya to enable scalable deployments of softphones without taxing the datacenter.  Using a custom developed plug-in, client devices can communicate point to point after an initial communications session is established.  Coding and decoding of real-time media is handled by the endpoint instead of at the datacenter which helps reduce latency and enable highly scalable deployments.  A webinar recording is available on YouTube that gives all of the details for this joint Avaya VMware solution.

While desktop virtualization in the unified communications space is a relatively new concept, many Avaya customers I spoke to are interested in using it for specific use cases.  Probably the most popular use case is for contact centers.  Contact center agents only require access to a limited application set and don’t install custom applications on their endpoints.  Furthermore, the contact center function is often outsourced or is located offshore.  This use case is ideal for desktop virtualization which provides the security, ease of scalability, and ease of management outsourcing and offshoring require.  A new VMware white paper is available that highlights how businesses can leverage desktop virtualization for their offshoring and outsourcing initiatives.

No doubt some telephony administrators are resistant to change as having ownership of the communications system ensures job security for them.  However, these people will be left behind as the convergence of IT and communications continues unabated.

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