If you buy into the idea that converged communications means more
than just cheap phone calls or access to the corporate PBX from
anywhere, SOA and VoIP ought to be perfect partners. Exposing
telephony functions as reusable Web services should make them easier
to integrate into other applications, and the same applies to all the
other services like IM and video that are supposed to be converging
That's the thinking behind the SOA strategy Nortel announced
this week, as well its partnership with IBM and its use of
WebSphere. But how much work still needs to be done to make IP
telephony part of SOA, and what kind of composite apps will be
built on top of it?
The first question is the easiest to answer. If you define a Web
service as something that uses XML or HTTP, we're part way there
already with things like SIP and XMPP. Of course, they only cover
metadata as far as VoIP is concerned (it can't even use TCP, let
alone XML) but related data like instant messages can be carried
through a Web service.
But if you define Web services as conforming to the full Web
Services stack, we're much further away. Nortel's announcement is
mostly about addressing this, exposing a standardized API for third-party (and eventually, customer-built) apps.
What kind of apps will actually use it is a much harder question.
The first one that Nortel announced is Lotus SameTime, through a
partnership with IBM that will let SameTime users access Nortel voice
features. That could help unify VoIP with IM, but only for customers
who actually use an in-house IM server. Though SameTime is the market
leader in enterprise IM, that really isn't saying much. According to
research, most enterprises use the free services -- AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo.