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Dispatch from Enterprise Connect 2014

The major topics of interest at Enterprise Connect 2014 in Florida last week were the battle between the giants, Microsoft and Cisco, and the excitement about WebRTC. Most vendors that were showing more traditional telephony products and services seemed to shrink into the background. The conference’s main takeaway for tech managers was the emphasis on business collaboration with a focus on video.

New Apps and Angles: Google, Cisco, Microsoft

Cisco announced its partnership with Google in a keynote presentation by general manager, Rowan Trollope. This promises to bring Google apps into WebEx. Since Google is already the dominant vendor supporting WebRTC, the way is clear for rapid development of new apps in the unified collaboration space where Cisco is very strong. Stressing ease of use, Trollope and an assistant plugged Ethernet and HDMI cables into a newly announced SX-10 and started a conference with three remote users.

The next day, Gurdeep Singh Pall of Microsoft responded. He seemed to be nonchalant about the integration of the Chrome environment and Cisco’s line of products. He pointed out the huge support already in place for Skype. Internationally Skype has had enormous success. He also reminded the audience that MS Office has become a de facto standard and seamlessly handles unified communications through Lync. With the level of penetration Microsoft has in the corporate environment, it’s difficult to argue that they won’t be influential in the advancement of unified communications.

Excitement for WebRTC

Also of interest at the conference was the rush to learn about WebRTC. At one of the opening breakout sessions, the host, Gaylord Palms Resort, needed to expand the room to accommodate the size of the group. Every day, sessions associated with WebRTC had very high attendance. Conference participants were heard discussing WebRTC possibilities and new products.

In almost every vendor booth, there were WebRTC capable products, indications of the development of such products, or explanations of why they weren’t being developed. Avaya showed a clear intention to support WebRTC and had one of their chief scientists, Alan Johnson, present at a technical tutorial on how WebRTC works.

It was made clear at the conference that video will have an important role for IT managers. This is a conference that was traditionally focused on voice communications. Then it developed to a conference about unified communications. Now, it seems as if it is evolving into a business collaboration conference with a strong focus on video.

Dr. Phil Hippenseteel is an instructor at Penn State Harrisburg and a regular contributor to AV Technology Magazine.