When you attend one of Cisco's Networkers conferences you can't help but think how far networking technologies have come in recent years, and how far they have to go.
Like every other networking vendor, Cisco is on a relentless mission to add functionality to the basic data service every business requires. So far the results have been impressive to say the least. IT managers now have a smorgasbord of IP-based applications which can be used to streamline business processes.
The killer app, VoIP, has ushered in a new paradigm of voice-integrated applications. Sure running voice calls over the data network has its advantages, but the benefits it brings enterprise applications like groupware and CRM are even more compelling.
Knowing whether someone is available to take a call with the help of presence is one simple example of how the technology can be applied to avoid going back and forth playing phone tag.
Speaking with delegates at this year's Networkers, one bugbear preventing the wide scale adoption of unified communications remains - complexity.
It just isn't a case of dropping unified communications onto your network and happy trails, don't let any vendor tell you otherwise. Done properly, unified communications requires extensive integration and testing work which will chew up a lot of time, energy, and money.
Let's hope the vendors have sense enough to realize that reducing complexity should be the next focal point for enterprise-grade VoIP.
The technology is well ahead of end-users, and only a handful are yet to partially exploit the integration possibilities.
The emergence of upstarts like Zultys have at least attempted to pull complexity out of the hardware-software equation required for unified communications, but for the entire industry to move ahead the big boys need to come to the party.
As the convergence industry matures, let's lobby for more enterprise-grade turnkey solutions that Keep It Simple, Stupid. Or in the case of unified communications, Keep IP Software Simple. The smart software that will drive the communications revolution needs to be standards based, easy to work with, and extensible to allow seamless integration with enterprise applications.
The industry is well and truly used to specialist boxes but what about all the software? It's time to KISS and make up.