Tuesday, April 9, 2013

EC13 Report Part 3: Mobility

Mobility for UC comes in many shapes. A soft client on iOS and Android is the entry ticket, but the sky is the limit after that.

This is the third in a four-part series covering some of the major trends I saw at Enterprise Connect Orlando. Friday I covered Virtualization, and yesterday Cloud Services; tomorrow's topic will be the Conference Room Experience.


UC clients on mobile devices have quickly become the entry ticket to mobility. Every vendor I talked to--voice, video, or other--has soft client(s). iOS and Android are the preferred OS for smart phones and tablets, followed by Windows for laptops and a mention or two of BlackBerry. However, a good mobility story rarely stops at just mobility.

Extensions to the call processing software allow switching (or shifting) sessions across any number of devices associated with a user. Alcatel-Lucent's "rapid session shift" switches between mobile phone, wired phone, soft client, or a video endpoint from partner LifeSize. There is no auto detection, and the changeover is initiated by a push of a key or tap on a screen.

Thrupoint takes session management to an entirely different level. Their Session Broker--which originates from Ubiquity--allows applications to execute during session setup, and for example, to check permissions, apply policies, and re-route sessions to another location/device. Thrupoint therefore provides a scalable platform for mobility applications.

I came across several mobility servers that allow additional automation of the call handoff process and focus on the Wi-Fi/3G/4G/GSM roaming scenario. The idea is that when the user leaves Wi-Fi coverage, the call automatically switches to VoIP over 3G/4G. If the 3G/4G service deteriorates, the call automatically switches to basic TDM GSM voice.

Aastra demonstrated the Aastra Mobility Controller (AMC) from the acquisition of Munich-based Comdasys. The mobility server is offered with the Aastra's MX-1 system (acquired from Ericsson) or as as standalone product with third-party systems.

ShoreTel has fully integrated the mobility server from the Agito acquisition, and offers it with ShoreTel IP Phone System or as a standalone product in third-party environments.


Mobility comes in many shapes. A soft client on iOS and Android is the entry ticket, but the sky is the limit after that. Advanced mobility functions such as session shifting and session/call handoff may become important differentiators for vendors. Reliability is still an issue, since mobility touches on several networks, and network timers do not always work exactly as expected.

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