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Is convergence inevitable?

The key theme of last week's Enterprise Networks conference in Boston -- convergence -- made me think of one of my favorite (though far fetched) movie scenes of all time.

In "A Few Good Men," attorney Tom Cruise is vehemently badgering Jack Nicholson's Col. Jessup on the witness stand, trying to learn if he ordered an attack on one of his own men, until Nicholson finally shouts, "You can't handle the truth!"

That was my reaction to the experts at the conference, who told attendees that network convergence is unavoidable, especially now that the economic downturn in the U.S. appears to be ending. However, are most enterprises ready to embark on such an ambitious -- and often expensive -- undertaking?

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During our interview with Avaya CEO Don Peterson, he said SIP-based IP telephony systems are expensive, and that other players try to cover up that fact that VoIP almost always requires a network upgrade. And that's coming from a company is as committed to IP telephony as any.

Though the advantages of converged communications are hard to ignore, as Peterson points out, are they outweighed by the impact that the transition will have on desktop upgrades and network management needs? There are no easy answers when it comes to convergence, and the "truth" likely has many interpretations.

Finally, I wanted to take a moment to congratulate the InterOperability Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire on officially becoming the first independent pre-certification program for Wi-Fi Alliance members. It means the IOL will be able to help vendors spot flaws in their products more quickly, resulting in more quality Wi-Fi products for everyone.

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