In what looks like a case of if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, the members of Versit – AT&T Corp, IBM Corp, Siemens AG and Apple Computer Inc – the alliance formed last December to focus on developing interoperability specifications (CI No 2,556), will join the Enterprise Computer Telephony Forum. Versit denies that the […]
In what looks like a case of if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, the members of Versit – AT&T Corp, IBM Corp, Siemens AG and Apple Computer Inc – the alliance formed last December to focus on developing interoperability specifications (CI No 2,556), will join the Enterprise Computer Telephony Forum. Versit denies that the move is an about-face. But more in keeping with its original stated aims, Versit is also to submit its Computer Telephony Integration specifications to the European Computer Manufacturers’ Association for consideration. Versit was conceived because the founder companies felt that standards bodies were failing users by not taking real world issues into account when defining specifications: the group aimed to target Computer Telephony Integration, data interchange and collaboration products. The forum was formed five months later (CI No 2,648) with predominantly the same aim, although focussed solely on Computer Telephony Integration, by Dialogic Corp, Digital Equipment Corp, Ericsson Business Networks AB, Hewlett-Packard Co and Northern Telecom Ltd. Although Versit and the forum have been working towards the same thing, the way in which they have sought to achieve it has differed.
Versit, for example, said at its formation that its four founders would have ultimate control over its direction and that other companies could only come on board as associate members: the forum, on the other hand, has made membership and voting rights open to all. Similarly, Versit is planning to use a single set of specifications as the basis for each area that it is hoping to address, while the forum has not limited itself to a single implementation model. Indeed, it is still in its infancy and has yet to hold its first meeting or working group meetings, but the indications are that it is not planning to establish standards, but rather to develop pragmatic solutions to specific interoperability problems. In the case of Computer Telephony Integration, Versit is using the Novell Inc-developed Telephony Services Application Programming Interface, TSAPI, as part of its Computer Telephony Integration Encyclopedia; TSAPI is itself based on the European association’s Computer Supported Telephony Applications standard. Versit joined the forum and is hoping to garner support for its specifications: the forum is an important body in the world of Computer Telephony Integration, given that it effectively owns the Signal Computing System Architecture standard, and the Tmap software standard for mapping TSAPI to Microsoft Corp’s rival Telephony Application Programming Interface, TAPI. Larry Jacobs, the managing director of the Versit Computer Telephony Integration project (who hails from AT&T), denies that the move represents an about-face. We have always, from day one, talked about wanting to review our work with other groups and companies, he said. But while it is true that Versit has always said that it planned to lobby standards bodies to try and get its specifications adopted, itwas generally understood that the group was referring to official organisations such as the International Telecommunications Union. The fact it is also now going to unofficial industry fora implies that it has realised that it has yet to attract the support it needs. Jacobs also said that since Versit released its Personal Data Interchange and GeoPort Universal Network Port specifications (CI No 2,556) hundreds of companies have downloaded it from the group’s World Wide Web site, and dozens are using it for development work.