Unified Communications Working Group (formerly SIP H323 Working Group)
  Chair : Bill Efthimiou [ bill.efthimiou@aarnet.edu.au]
  SIP peering co-ordinator : Nimal Ratnayake [ nimalr@learn.ac.lk ]
  Mailing List : uc@apan.net
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  The APAN Unified Communications Working Group builds on the work of the APAN SIP Working group that had been established to enable the APAN community to adopt open source SIP based services for low to zero cost Voice and Video calls over the APAN IP based network. Over time many manufacturers have developed a suite of services for both the H.323 and SIP protocols, in general H.323 has traditionally driven Video services whilst SIP has been the domain of Voice services. These platforms are converging.
  There has been significant vendor push into the Unified Communications area that continues to result in a broad range of rich media collaboration services being made available to the enterprise. End users can collaborate by checking another's presence status to see if he or she is busy, then having the option to instant message (chat), make a voice call or a video call either point-to-point or in a multi-point conference where presentations can be shared.
  As the Education and Research community become increasingly global, the immense opportunity these applications bring to the APAN community cannot be underestimated. National Education and Research Networks have the opportunity to both roll out and engineer their IP networks, but at the same time co-develop enabling infrastructure for that IP network to be able to support collaboration in new meaningful ways at little to no cost. This opportunity will help to drive closer more regular national, regional and global collaboration efforts that can help raise education standards and allow more researcher engagement and outcomes than ever before.
  In order to achieve that goal a coordinated effort to engineer the APAN network is required to:
   1. Educate and train engineers in best practice design, development, deployment, operate and management of national Unified Communications infrastructures.
  2. Coordinate national Unified Communications infrastructures in a central/federated way so that services can interoperate together seamlessly in simple ways for NRENs to manage and for their customers and their end users to access and use.
  3. Ensure that any such solution is delivered in a cost effective way that can drive the adoption and use of services across the APAN and other NREN networks.
  4. Partner with both the open source community and commercial vendors to help develop interoperable solutions through co-development, interoperability testing and donations.
  5. Establish an operational and development talent pool to maintain services and develop new ones.
  Whilst Skype may be a suitable alternative, its peer-to-peer nature means it cannot be guaranteed to traverse the APAN or other NREN networks. Thus incurring bandwidth costs. Skype is proprietary, therefore cannot be controlled and interoperability will be an ongoing issue. The APAN UC Working group acknowledges the usability and reach of Skype. We strive to offer a service that can leverage off the investments made in the APAN network, on NREN networks and UC service investments at the enterprise, with access to high speed high bandwidth networks.
  This group has the opportunity to drive service developments in a lead role that can help in turn drive national service developments. The group will work and act as a broker of talent, technology and vendors where possible enabling innovation to bring together today's most used communications services such as SIP, H.323, XMPP, HTML5 alongside cloud based services (such as, Skype, Google, etc) and other protocols/services that may be of interest. The group needs to garner critical mass in terms of engineering a network infrastructure solution and service enablement platform that these services can take advantage off. As unified communications reaches an established level of maturity the group hopes that each APAN member can make a contribution and help make a difference and showcase the APAN and TEIN investments across the region.
  Participation in the working group is open to any APAN member. In addition, the group aims to foster communication with other similar groups in the international Research & Education sector.
  Members are encouraged to join the mailing list. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to send them to the [ uc@apan.net ]

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