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How to Enable Collaboration Through UC Federation

Friday, November 7, 2014 - 15:30
UC Federation

Collaboration in the workplace is more than just sending a few emails to your colleague or quickly chatting an instant message. It’s about sharing documents and being able to discuss them at the same time while in different locations. It’s about connecting teams through video conferences and sharing screens to ensure everyone’s on the same page for the project at hand. However, each team, office and client has its own set of preferred tools, creating a potential challenge to collaborate across the different platforms and networks. Luckily, organizations can easily remove the barriers brought on by each system through UC federation. To get a better understanding of what UC federation is and how organizations can benefit from becoming federated, we sat down with Farzin Shahidi, CEO of NextPlane, the global leader in UC Federation-as-a-Service. 

What is UC federation and what are its benefits?

UC federation is about cutting down the latencies between communication sessions and making sure people who work together closely can easily do so using the most appropriate form of communication, whether it’s video, instant messaging or voice. At its heart, UC federation strives to deliver three key benefits:

  • Interoperability – By using a federation service, like UC Exchange, organizations can better deal with the differences between platforms and improve operability between each.
  • Increased Richness – Too often, projects get delayed because Joe couldn’t get in touch with Suzy. UC federation prevents such delays from happening, as each party can see in real time what others are doing and if they’re available to talk.
  • Security – A common fear with UC federation is that it will lead to becoming bombarded with unexpected calls, chats and more. However, this isn’t the case, as only users who’ve been authorized can send content to a firm’s UC system.

Who should consider becoming federated?

Companies that deal with lots of partners or are geographically dispersed should consider federation. For instance, if a company works with an external partner every day, they are going to want to be on an IM and presence platform together. Too often, employees waste time playing phone tag and waiting on emails, but by becoming federated companies can quickly chat with one another to get an answer to their question right away. This not only allows things to get done faster, but it also improves overall employee productivity.

What federation options are available?

There are multiple “flavors” of federation. Federation services are available for instant messaging (IM) and presence, as well as for voice and video by third-party providers. However, voice and video federation options are not as widely available yet, something that is expected to change in the near future. UC federation can connect two UC vendors deployed within the same enterprise. Due to a merger for example, one department in a company might use Lync and another might use Jabber. Two separate enterprises that use the same UC platforms might also need UC federation to enable intercompany communication. Even though intercompany federation can be more challenging, federation between separate companies using the same UC platform is becoming a simpler process. Before deciding what type of federation a company needs, they must analyze their own situation and determine whether they’re looking to improve communication internally, externally or both.

Who offers UC federation?

UC federation providers, such as NextPlane, have emerged to offer services that remove the complexity associated with UC federation. IT organizations can outsource federation to third-party providers whose core competency is to make sure all these connections are secure and reliable. NextPlane’s cloud-based UC Exchange platform, for instance, offers instant messaging and presence, as well as some voice and video federation services among different enterprise-grade UC platforms—such as InterCall, Microsoft and Cisco—and federation between UC tools and social media platforms. Esna, on the other hand, provides integration between cloud, mobile and social communications tools within enterprise business applications—like Salesforce.

Thoughts on the future of federation?

Federation between IM and presence tools has helped solve the most immediate communication need, but federation between voice and video platforms will be the next step for businesses requiring enterprise-grade video conferencing. In the meantime, UC federation meets the pressing need of sharing presence and availability across different network domains and UC platforms.

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