Unified Communications was born as a result of the development of VoIP back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The first attempt to make voice an application on the data network was being marketed in the mid 90’s with the term AVVID, or Architecture for Voice Video and Integrated Data, by a small company named Celsius who had just been acquired by Cisco.
With the development of the Linux operating system kernel, more and more startups began mirroring Cisco’s example by building a cheap PBX with features focused around helping small and medium sized companies.
One of the first companies to do this was Asterisk. Two different variables came together to make this possible. The first was a cheap OS, in this case Linux, which is a free platform, in order to build the concept of a PBX on. The second part was delivery of protocol to control voice calls, which was developed by the IETF and called the Session Initialization Protocol, or SIP for short. These events combined to allow other manufacturers to get into the VoIP sector in a big way.
Then came the second aspect of UC: the convergence of voicemail, e-mail and fax in the same Message Store or Mail Server. Although this is used millions of times every day by thousands upon thousands of people, at the time such an idea had revolutionary implications for the business market.
These days voice is treated as an application running on your network with a solid SIP delivery protocol. The unique nature of UC in modern times is that now voice can be blended into corporate applications that help enhance processes and allow people to communicate easier and more efficiently than ever before.
The growth UC is seeing now and into the foreseeable future is focused around increasing speeds and strength of signal for mobile devices networked with larger communication infrastructures. Video conferencing is becoming the norm for many companies, and the ability to connect simply and without hassle has forever changed the way we communicate.