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Cutting a Path Towards the Future of Unified Collaboration & Mobility

Oct 26, 2016, by Ben Fineman
Tags: Internet2 NET+, Mitel/Level 3 SIP Services

Internet2 NET+ SIP Service Advisory Board Relaunch & Keys to the Future

Take a moment to envision the future possibilities of unified collaboration and mobility. As we know, our communications environments aren’t just about phones anymore - faculty, staff, and students communicate anytime, anywhere, using whatever device is most convenient. This means that mobile first is something we need to take to heart - and slapping a VoIP app onto an iPhone is not what I mean. Future solutions will have deep integrations into mobile devices as well as mobile networks, such that rich communications services can be accessible wherever users are trying to work and learn. And perhaps most importantly, these services aren't just about communication—collaboration is at the heart of everything we do, and service must be designed not just to transmit information, but to enable users to interact with that information and each other in meaningful ways.

With this vision in mind, the Internet2 NET+ SIP Service is at the brink of an exciting new evolution as it approaches its fourth year of existence. A key new foundation for this evolution was laid recently with the relaunch of the service governance structure. 

When the NET+ SIP Service was first envisioned, it actually preceeded the Internet2 NET+ initiative structure, and likely helped to eventually form it. The initial group of universities - led by Tulane, Texas A&M, LSU, and seven other institutions worked tirelessly to create order from chaos. They not only executed a community RFP for hosted voice and SIP trunking, but also built a program that included governance under the Internet2 SIP Steering Committee. 

The committee was originally designed to include universities who were using the SIP Service, and also other members of the community involved in hosted voice, so the group could provide input on SIP in higher education as a whole. As is always the Internet2 community's aim, we've learned from several years of operation with this and other NET+ services. A key takeaways has been that the most effective and engaged governance bodies are formed with institutions who are actually using the service of focus. Therefore, 2016 marks the relaunch of the NET+ SIP Service governance as an Advisory Board consisting of Internet2 university members who have deployed the service on their campus.

The first meeting of this new advisory board was held last week at Tulane University, with representatives from Tulane University, Western Carolina University, Texas A&M University, and of course Mitel, Level 3, and Internet2. This group spent a productive day refining the charter for the group, digging into the: 

  • detailed roadmaps for both the hosted voice and SIP trunking aspects of the service
  • tactical and strategic components of how the service will evolve in the future; and
  • future possibilities in the space of unified collaboration and mobility.

The results and actions from the meeting were shared with the other advisory board schools who could not attend in person. Currently, six of the eighteen institutions using the NET+ SIP Service are participating in the Advisory Board - the charter gives room for up to ten, so your institution could be next!

In short, I'm excited about this group not just because they are engaged and motivated to improve the service in the short term, but because they share a long term vision for how hosted voice service must evolve to meet the needs of the research and education community. Stay tuned for future developments, or contact me (bfineman@internet2.edu) to discuss how your institution can begin down the path of not just voice in the cloud, but also unified communications in the cloud!

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