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Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Dawn Of The Next Generation Messaging World -Part I

Several industry developments are strongly influencing the emergence of unified communication.Among others, these include Internet Protocol (IP) convergence, the spread of wireless messaging, and the emergence of third-party message stores. IP is fast becoming a universal communications platform on which voice and data technologies are converging. This convergence is taking place in areas such as telephony and messaging platforms. Telecommunications carriers are beginning to migrate their voice telephone traffic—from traditional circuit-switched networks like the PSTN—to the IP networks that handle their data traffic. Networks no longer distinguish between different types of traffic. Internet messages, are increasingly beginning to carry text, voice, and multimedia content. A similar convergence is happening across messaging platforms. - faxes, pages, voicemail, and e-mail have traditionally been handled by separate messaging systems. Emerging standards like the new Voice Profile for Internet Mail (VPIM) and the Fax Profile for Internet Mail (FPIM) standards enable e-mail based on Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to transport voice mail and faxes. and also provide interoperability as well. In such an IP environment a voice mail message becomes an audio attachment to an e-mail, and a fax simply becomes an image attachment to an e-mail. In short, the next-generation e-mail “inbox” will manage all kinds of text, audio, image, and video messages.

Third-party Messaging Service Providers (MSPs) are beginning to build on this common IP base, by uniting messaging technologies via Internet standards based protocols to enable message sharing from a consolidated infrastructure. Soon, messages of all types will be stored and processed from a single IP message source that will use a dedicated filtering and folder system. This unified messaging system will be highly flexible and extensible, and will offer users the ability to send or retrieve a message of any type from any device or interface. The messaging industry has quickly moved through three generations - segregated messaging, through integrated messaging, through unified messaging(UM) and further leading to the fourth generation, unified communications (UC). UC goes beyond the message management capabilities of UM, and incorporates realtime connection and call completion across a range of devices, as well as call management, collaboration, media handling, voice-enabled groupware capabilities, etc. In addition, to typical call centered functionalities, intelligent and flexible call-handling alternatives to both the caller and the mailbox user are provided. Sophisticated call and message management functions will be the next planned advancements in functionalities. Part II shall follow.

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