Keen UC insight the hallmark of 2015

In 2015, intriguing developments shaped the unified communications industry, highlighted in part by the emergence of Skype for Business, and the impact of WebRTC and VoIP technology.

SearchUnifiedCommunications' library of expert tips showcases the UC insight and actionable advice our readers can use to do their jobs more efficiently. To that end, in 2015, we published dozens of articles written by industry analysts, engineers and other UC professionals -- spanning a wide range of topics.

Not surprisingly, some topics generated more buzz than others, including WebRTC, voice over IP (VoIP), Skype for Business, video conferencing and cloud services. Let's take a closer look at this UC insight and find out why these tips were so popular among our readers.

1. WebRTC flowing into the mainstream

Everyone loves predictions, and this WebRTC predictions piece from January was our top tip of the year, based on readership. The tip, and other top-performing WebRTC tips throughout 2015, explored the possibilities and use cases of the real-time, browser-based communications technology.

In particular, readers were interested in which browsers would support WebRTC, the video codecs associated with the open source project and the technology's mobile potential.

Additionally, readers tuned into the disruptive nature of WebRTC on the unified communications industry. A combination of WebRTC and enterprise messaging could seriously challenge established UC vendors, wrote Tsahi Levent-Levi, an independent analyst and WebRTC consultant.

2. VoIP's impact inside and outside your network

VoIP -- essentially calling and talking with someone over the Internet -- gained a good deal of interest over the year, and that momentum should continue in 2016. Our top-performing VoIP tips tackled the issues of migrating from legacy phone systems, configuring a robust VoIP infrastructure and mitigating VoIP's bandwidth burdens on the larger network.

More specifically, experts' UC insight revealed the importance of selecting the right SIP trunking provider when migrating to VoIP, and properly designing quality-of-service models and redundancy to help VoIP networks run smoothly.   

VoIP security, too, was a hot topic, particularly as it was addressed by VoIP expert Chris Partsenidis. Encryption, he wrote, is vital inside and outside your network, and a layered security approach with a strategically placed firewall can help thwart VoIP attacks.

3. Skype for Business rattles the UC market

Say what? Microsoft has figured out enterprise telephony? Uh-oh, Cisco, look out.

The emergence of Microsoft telephony in the form of Skype for Business was arguably the biggest UC development of the year. Our expert tips on the topic, led by Nemertes Research analyst Irwin Lazar, dissected what this move means for the unified communications industry.

Skype for Business stumbled out of the starting blocks, as it overcame a branding hurdle; many end users confused the enterprise version with the consumer version. But then, Microsoft picked up steam by pushing the Skype for Business service to the cloud and angling for a bigger piece of the enterprise-telephony pie.

This topic will surely stretch into the new year, as Microsoft and Cisco continue their unending competition in the collaboration market.

4. Video conferencing ready for prime time

Video conferencing, like WebRTC, has flowed more into the mainstream. The way people work and communicate -- inside and outside their organization -- has changed considerably in recent years.

Rethinking video conferencing by reconfiguring your network to accommodate cloud-based services and shun on-premises systems has been an ongoing, popular topic. Video conferencing is also breaking out of the boardroom and finding its way into smaller conference rooms, as well as onto desktops and mobile devices.

And with these revamped video conferencing capabilities, we segue into a related service and the fifth top-tip topic of 2015.

5. Cloud-based services gather momentum

We can't talk about all these newfangled telephony and video conferencing services and not mention the cloud -- they're all interwoven into a rich unified communications tapestry.

With cloud video conferencing, the sky's the limit, according to this Lazar tip. Cloud-based services, he pointed out, can cut infrastructure costs and extend conferencing beyond network boundaries.

But real-time, cloud-based voice and video can tax a network's capabilities. Well-designed enterprise data networks account for ample bandwidth with low-latency and low-jitter performance. Before deploying a cloud service, be sure to address your current infrastructure performance and needs.

All these expert tips and UC insight not only highlight the hot topics of 2015, but also indicate where the market is headed in the new year. So, stay tuned.

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