Juliana Kenny at TMCnet posted an interesting blog with the term Cloud Telephony in the title. While somewhat akin to what some used to call Hosted IP Telephony, the concept of cloud telephony is a little broader, implying a somewhat end-user-device-agnostic approach as part of a Hosted IP Telephony model.
The Hosted IP Telephony model was often just SIP connectivity to an old-school carrier-class switch in the network. The cloud telephony model is clearly more about soft-switches and virtualization – and even about non-hierarchical, autonomous switching infrastructures – just like IP itself is: a set of interconnected autonomous networks. This autonomy means end-user devices will most likely be implemented through open source software on a computer, cell phone, or deskphone.
But how valuable will it be to articulate a model for cloud telephony that is any different from the existing model for Unified Communications? As I see it, we're talking about the same communications domain here. That said, there is clearly a buzz from a branding or product marketing standpoint that makes "cloud telephony" sound hot and fresh. The problem is that "telephony" in and of itself is nothing more than a single component of UC. The value of putting telephony in the cloud is that it becomes "telephony on steroids" when it is linked to presence servers, instant messaging, and so on.
As someone who telecommutes every day, I don't see cloud telephony taking off as a standalone business model in the long run. It will soon be eclipsed by UC, but don't be surprised if the word "cloud" somehow makes its way into the UC vocabulary, perhaps as Unified Cloud Communications or UCC? Quick, run to the trademark office!
Read Juliana Kenny's Blog at TMCnet about Cloud Telephony
Read Christopher's blog entry This isn't Your Father's Telecommuting