AT&T federation services help transform Unified Communications

person dialing number on phone

The traditional telephone network has evolved to provide a very fundamental service that we all take for granted: universal dialing.

As the telephone network developed, a key goal was for any phone to be able to connect with any other phone through a common set of capabilities.

While the core telephony capability of basic voice may not seem that powerful to us now, the underlying concept of the network made it incredibly transformational. It defined standards for interoperability that enabled any user, enterprise, or service provider to participate in the network.

This meant, for example, that a consumer and employee in a company could connect to each other.

Federation extends communications, but has challenges

As communications services evolved and began incorporating the internet, the problem of universal connectivity emerged.

At the core, the internet and the worldwide web are interoperable at the IP packet level, but interoperable connectivity is not defined for applications above that. As instant messaging (IM) platforms emerged, it was clear that there needed to be a way to interconnect IM services. Through this, the concept of federation was born.

Today, communications options have exploded.

Unified communications (UC) platforms provide a rich set of services far beyond basic telephony, such as IM and presence, and HD audio, video, and web conferencing. However, for most UC implementations, the ability to communicate ends at the edge of the business or even at the edge of company’s server.

business iot ecosystem
The fact is that most UC implementations are not interoperable, which means users must still pick up the phone when they want to connect with someone outside the organization.

This is a significant issue that hampers companies from realizing the true value of these next-generation systems. While some vendors have implemented federation in their products and tout its value, it is limited to connecting organizations that are on the same platform. Also, the federation process is challenging.

For example, the administrator needs to essentially open up federation for all or build individual federation connections based on business needs. This places IT between the users and the parties they need to talk with.

Taking federation to the cloud

Another option is a federation service.

A federation service is a cloud solution that sits between organizations that need to communicate with each other. It provides both interoperability across divergent platforms as well as enhanced security. AT&T offers a federation service as a global service provider, highlighting interoperability as a key value proposition of its UC services.

The AT&T UC federation solution offer connects companies or groups within the same company that are on different supported UC platforms, including Microsoft Skype for Business and Cisco Jabber. The key advantages for an AT&T federation service are two-fold:

  • The federation service enables AT&T services to be integrated, including AT&T Cloud UC and VPN.
  • Security can be more easily managed in the federated environment. The AT&T solution for federation incorporates tools and process that meet the security and privacy requirements that organizations face when implementing federation.

AT&T has deep experience managing and operating these services across its network. This seems to place the company in a good position to provide these new federation services as part of their offer, creating a path to added value over time.

UC solutions can help simplify interactions with co-workers, partners, and customers, wherever work demands.

UC federation can extend the value of UC and may significantly compound the impact and return on investment for an organization. Moving from a UC island or solution that is limited to interoperability with only one vendor to an open federation model will be a key value of UC going forward.

Phil Edholm President and Founder PKE Consulting About Phil