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Unified Communications software-defined networking—rallying the industry

Jamie Stark is a senior product marketing manager on the Lync team.

Last week at TechEd North America in Houston, I delivered a session in the Office track on Lync and Unified Communications (UC) software-defined networking (SDN). For the past year, we’ve been talking about how traditional networking is inflexible and rigid, and this was confirmed by many people who came up to me after the presentation. The scaffolding of traditional technologies necessary to deliver optimal media traffic across a burdened network is brittle. I heard stories of upgraded routers “forgetting” to mark DSCP any longer, VLANs disappearing, Wi-Fi designed for email pushing HD video, and other issues—all of which underscored the fact our customers are not satisfied with the networking status quo.

After I returned home to sunny Seattle, the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum (UCI Forum) shared some exciting news. UCIF announced that they had released the first use case specification for automating quality of service under UC SDN. This is a major step forward, because this work then flows into the Open Network Foundation (ONF) work on the North Bound Interface. As the ONF further specifies the interface, they can look to the scenarios provided by the UCI Forum to ensure that they match the requirements. This is fundamental to having an open SDN model that not only provides tremendous value to the customer but works across vendors without prejudice.

Software Defined Networking

Image courtesy of UCI Forum’s UC SDN Task Group.

In the UCI Forum press release, you’ll see quotes from Microsoft along with Aruba Networks and HP Networking. We invite the rest of the industry to participate in this dramatic change happening with

SDN, both directly with Lync with our SDN API and in the industry groups. But as I highlighted above about the number of customer stories I heard, this change can clearly benefit our customers. So the time is now to explore the richness of offerings that are available today with SDN.

If you were not able to attend my TechEd session last week on Lync and UC SDN, I discussed partner solutions from Aruba Networks, HP, and Nectar Systems. Each solution is great and deserves a close look so be sure to watch their respective session recordings from Lync Conference 2014. You can watch these sessions, and others, on Channel 9.

—Jamie Stark @nomorephones