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VoiceCon: what I'll be checking out

Aside from taking in most of the keynotes, meeting with vendors and chatting up attendees to learn about what they’re working on, I’ve picked out a handful of sessions that I think relate to key trends in the industry right now. I’m going to attend as many of them as I can.

1. Integrating Group Video with PBX and UC

Tuesday at 2pm, Brent Kelly of Wainhouse Research

For the last few years vendor keynotes at VoiceCon have invariably featured demos of simple, one-click video conferencing from within desktop UC clients. They make it looks so easy, but all of know that it isn’t always that simple. I think Brent’s session on integrating video with PBX and UC environments should be interesting. I look forward to the Q&A session.

2. Organizational Impacts of Convergence

Tuesday at 4pm with Don Van Doren of UniComm Consulting

I’ve attended sessions on this subject in the past and it always generates good discussion. Unified communications, for those who dive really deep into it, can create some headaches for an organization for a number of reasons. First of all, many organization are still consolidating their networking and telecommunications team in the wake of the transition to IP telephony. Then there’s the rise things like communications-enabled business processes, which will force new types of collaboration with enterprise application managers. Also, enterprises need to rethink their help desk when they dive into UC. Tier 1 support too often elevates every trouble ticket to the top because they don’t understand the technology well. Many UC and network management vendors are trying to address this one specific problem. Which leads me to…

3. Network Test Tools for Voice and Video

Wednesday at 8am, Moderated by John Bartlett of NetForecast with a panel of representatives from CA, Integrated Research (making of PROGNOSIS), Psytechnics and Apparent Networks.

I still don’t get the sense that many enterprises are properly testing and monitoring their IP telephony and video deployments, perhaps because this requires investment in tools they’re not necessarily familiar with.  It’s simply tough to know how well your VoIP system is performing unless you get complaints from your users. These vendors are sort of pushing beyond that and I like to keep tabs on this market.

4. User Forum

Wednesday at 10am, moderated b Eric Krapf of NoJitter and Zeus Kerravala of Yankee Group.

For me this one is all about the panelists. I like to hear straight from these guys what exactly they’re doing with UC. This panel features Donna Zett, CIO of Serta International; Jason Norton, director of operations and telecom at Scripps Networks; Duane Longhofer, telecom manager at AccuQuote; Darrius Jones, executive director of channel management and technical fellow at USAA; and Saustrup Arne, computer operations manager at Alamo Community College District.

5. SIP Trunking Case Studies

Wednesday at 1pm, moderated by Sorrell Slaymaker of Unified IT systems.

Everyone seems to be wondering aloud about whether and/or when SIP trunking services will become mainstream. Vendors like Acme Packet will tell you that time is very near. I’m sure we’ll hear a lot about SIP trunking from vendors and carriers at the show this year, but I’m most interested in hearing from enterprises who are actually doing it. That’s why I’ll try to attend this session, which will feature engineers Steve Blair of the University of Pennsylvania and Larry Riba of Alpine Access.

6. Challenges in Achieving the Promise of Presence

Wednesday at 3:15pm, moderated by Don Van Doren

I think everyone is intrigued by the idea of presence, but I haven’t talked to a great deal of people who are actually doing much with it yet. Vendor offerings in this area are very uneven. I think this should be an interesting panel discussion simply because of who is on the panel. It features representatives of Cisco, Avaya, IBM and Microsoft, all major players in the UC space. Some of them have excellent presence products. Others, not so much.

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