by Jeff Rodman, co-founder and CTO, Polycom
The Unified Communications Interoperability Forum has bitten off a lot to chew and I’m frequently asked, “How you gonna eat all that?” We’re talking about assuring interoperability among different platforms, across different networks, through firewalls, and even, in the spirit of unified communications, bridging applications so text, audio, video, presence, presentation and a host of others can work together reliably, predictably and easily. And further, we’re planning to achieve all this without writing any standards at all.
Last month I talked about how UCIF’s work consists of setting priorities, defining usage scenarios, writing test cases and applying those to a verification program so vendors and customers can be confident that the UCIF mark means interoperability. Here’s how that work happens.
UCIF is organized in a proven, conventional manner. In addition to a board of directors, which provides general direction and oversight, there are three working groups: technical, marketing, and test and certification.
The technical working group (TWG) sets priorities, defining usage scenarios and test cases. Most of the people are also active in other standards organizations like IETF, ITU and IMTC, so they have a lot of experience in the field and knowledge of what existing standards are best suited for each task. Further, if changes to those standards become needed, they can work with those organizations to make the changes happen.
The Test and Certification WG takes the work of TWG, turns it into a proven and workable test plan, and creates and maintains the verification program. The actual verification testing will be done by one or more outside labs, but following standard procedures. Testing against clearly-defined plans is the philosophy at the center of UCIF rather than testing system against system, as is common at interop events. This means that UC interop testing is completely scalable. As new vendors and products emerge and evolve, each only need be tested once, not retested against every other UC platform.
The marketing WG is not in the direct line of technical activities but is crucial because it drives communications and membership. UCIF draws its strength from a broad and diverse base of members and the MWG role of communicating the importance and impact of the organization is central to bringing in the best talents to move their companies and the industry forward.
Although it’s only a few months old, there’s been a lot of activity and the first full members meeting is scheduled for August. If you haven’t joined yet, this would be a great time to do it. Visit ucif.org to get a full picture of how you can benefit, and for an application. One advantage of being new is that we’re pretty fast and responsive.