Is UC Plug and Play really Plug and Play?


The Cloud Pro opinion is pretty specific, unsurprisingly, to cloud-based UC. To be fair this is where plug and play has to be a little more difficult than in more traditional environments; not only are you asking a system to identify whichever latest widget you’ve plugged into it, you’re asking a remote system which is probably managing a squillion other desktops or servers to recognize the thing you’ve just physically plugged in (I’m counting wireless and Bluetooth connections as ‘physical’ or we’ll be here all day running through the permutations).

The author of the piece, a journalist called Adrian Bridgwater, seeks to cut through a lot of the hype that says how many IT managers see the benefits of and plan to move to cloud in their UC implementation, and to look at what’s actually happening.

Cloud doesn’t respond to UC

His contention – and the piece is worth reading – is that the notion of plug and play, when in the old marketing tropes from Apple “it just works”, doesn’t actually apply for UC and indeed it shouldn’t. People who have looked at a BYOD policy and backed away nervously don’t necessarily want any passing smartphone user to be able to hook into the network and auto-download an enterprise app, giving them access to all of the corporate data. The vast majority of users will of course be well-intentioned but it’s phenomenally bad practice.

Bridgwater concludes that UC is happening but that talking about putting it all in the cloud falls down on the side of hype and marketeering rather than any market reality (this is a vastly simplified summary of a well-argued piece and nuanced piece). One possible take on it is that  it’s time for the ICT industry overall and communications in particular to stop pretending everything is so simple. Plug and play, smartphones, tablets – these are great concepts and objects, but there is an extent to which we do ourselves few favours by pretending it’s all a pushover and entrants into the workplace can expect any device to pick up on any enterprise connections they choose. Supporting all of these apps, which increasingly include UC elements, is not easy across different platforms, and as Bridgwater points out, it may not even be desirable.

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