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Reflections on the UC Market and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

November 22, 2013

Although the concept of entropy originated in thermodynamics (as the 2nd law) and statistical mechanics, it is very applicable to the current state of the UC market. In simple terms, entropy is the measure of the level of disorder in a changing system, a system in which energy can only be transferred in one direction from an ordered state to a disordered state. The higher the entropy, the higher the disorder and lower the availability of the system’s energy to do useful work.

As the entropy value of the UC market increases, the disorder is reflected in the increasing number of new hosted platforms, and the number of customers who are switching from on-premises platforms to hosted and cloud-based platforms. An increasing number of customers are also switching from one vendor to another in the hopes of finding more holistic unification of communication modes.

The results of a recent internal study that NextPlane conducted between 2012 and 2013 tracking the key trends in the Fortune 1000 (F1000) UC market, revealed that there was a 188% growth rate in the number of F1000 companies moving from on premises UC platforms to hosted or UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) deployments. Another indicator of increasing entropy in the UC market in our study showed a 59% growth rate in organizations that are deploying both SIP and XMPP-based platforms. This shows a fluid market space fraught with migration activities.

As opposed to commissioning a customer survey, we wanted accurate and unbiased “repeatable” results. To achieve this, we wrote a DNS crawler application to examine the externally published XMPP and SIP records for known F1000 domain names. Analyzing those records revealed the following insights:

  • Federation-readiness
  • UC platform vendor
  • Hosted vs. on-premises

For example, the SIP SRV record for delta.com (sipfed.online.lync.com) shows Delta Airlines is an Office365 customer, and XMPP SRV record for gm.com (_xmpp-server._tcp.gm.com. 900   IN SRV 5 0 5269 s2s.gm.com.webexconnect.com) shows General Motors is a Cisco WebEx Messenger customer. The lack of a published DNS SRV record for a given UC domain is likely indication that the domain lacks federation readiness.

Despite this proliferation of platforms, services, and protocols  the study also showed that less than 25% of Fortune 1000’s (F1000) companies have the ability to collaborate with their business partners (B2B UC collaboration) outside of the company walls even though they have mature UC deployments. In fact, over the past year the number of F1000 companies that can be considered federation-ready only grew by roughly 15 percent. This means that companies are not positioned to leverage the advantages of B2B collaboration despite the competitive advantages of enhanced, accelerated decision-making and increased productivity that B2B collaboration provides.

Why such as low rate of federation among F1000 companies? The answer lies in barriers that companies are facing when they try to implement direct Do-It-Yourself (DIY) federation. Please read our previous blog posting, The Road Less Travelled: The Perils of “Do-It-Yourself” UC Federation.

Given the parallels between the second law of thermodynamics and the trends we see in the UC market, we have to pose the question, is there a way to decrease the entropy value so that organizations can fully leverage the value of unified communications and B2B collaboration?

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