In order to connect Unified Communications (UC) with Cloud we first need to start from a model for business integration that includes the processes and data models defining how a business operates. The best representation I’ve found of this is a work by Paul R. Smith as shown in the diagram below (redrawn by Marcel Douwe Dekker). Note that there are two distinct areas that define the Business Model, namely Processes and Data. Business Process Integration is the sum of converging Data and Processes and results in the requirements that define the total operations of each business. This is important because without the analysis of both sides of the business, critical requirements are often missed and a comprehensive Information Technology approach becomes difficult.
In the world of UC, elements of each (processes and data), are merged to “provide a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types”, including but not limited to “communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, IP telephony, video conferencing, call control and speech control with non real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax)”. As shown in the diagram (above right) both real-time and non real-time communications flow up into the Business Model Integration schema to round out the entire business operations definition.
Unified Communications has been the ‘holy grail’ for large service providers looking to bridge the gap between IP and voice services over the past 15 years. Now, with the emergence of Software as a Service and Platforms as a Service, Cloud Providers have the ability to virtualize a solution to fill the requirements of Business Model Integration, but many are not bridging the gap to communications. As depicted in the diagram below, by delivering VMs, Desktops and Applications as well as real-time and non real-time communications in a PaaS model, a foundation for automation can be built for the next generation of Information Technology and Business Model Integration. The missing link in a complete service offering has been the integration of UC and SaaS.
Unfortunately, Cloud Providers have not been able to grasp the idea of Holistic Cloud Computing yet and therefore have largely been focused on Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Alternatively, Incumbent Service Providers (AT&T, BT, Telefonica, Unicom, etc) are mainly concentrating on the UC portion of the model, and are not providing SaaS but have relegated this offering to companies such as Saleforce.com, WebEx/Cisco and CitrixOnline. SaaS providers tend to be monolithic in their offerings providing software applications but do not offer IaaS or PaaS.
The demand is growing for a more holistic approach to providing ubiquitous service. Incumbent Services Providers have the means (cash, network, and brand) but no sense of urgency and a misunderstanding of their role in PaaS. Cloud Providers have the technology, but not the UC implementations. Although beginning to move into the collaboration portion of UC, most SaaS providers tend to focus on a silo of applications and are growing so rapidly they have little desire to broaden their offerings. This creates a tremendous opportunity for Tier 2 and Tier 3 Cloud Providers to quickly gain market share as the demand is left unmet by larger players (i.e. Tier 1 Service Providers and Tier 1 Cloud Providers). The key to capturing this market is to understand the emerging SaaS model that includes both Web and Windows based applications as well as incorporating UC offerings into subscription services.
Citrix enables IaaS/PaaS with our C3 technology. Microsoft enables a UC suite of applications. Once the redefinition of SaaS is embraced (both Web and Windows apps) Service Providers will enable services through the hosted desktop using the Citrix Service Provider program.