Today, as part of the launch of Cisco Collaboration 8.0, Cisco is announcing a brand new technology into the marketplace. This technology - Cisco Intercompany Media Engine (IME) - is a revolutionary new technique for solving the open federation problem.
IME addresses the issues that have made open federation a challenge. It enables any enterprise or domain - anywhere in the world - to federate openly with every other enterprise that is IME enabled.
IME is effortless. IME federation works with the existing phone numbers used by each enterprise. There are no new phone numbers to assign. Users make calls just like they've been making all along, dialing the numbers of their colleagues through click-to-dial, speed-dials, contact lists, or plain old number punching. Yesterday, those calls went over the PSTN. Tomorrow, they'll go over IP. Yesterday, users got just basic voice. Tomorrow, they'll get rich media.
IME is self-learning. An enterprise never needs to configure any information about any other enterprise in order to work. Not one shred of information is required - no IP addresses, no phone number prefixes or dialing rules, no certificates, no domain names - nothing - needs to be configured about other enterprises in order to enable federation.
IME is distributed. There is no central hub, no central database, no central service provider. Enterprises participate individually, and the collection of enterprises utilizing IME forms a distributed network. That network becomes the platform that delivers open federation.
IME is global. It works everywhere in the world. Enterprises from the United States to Europe, from Asia to Africa, and from Canada to Cambodia can participate.
IME is secure. Despite the lack of any kind of central authority or central database, it guarantees the integrity and accuracy of the phone number to domain name mappings it provides. It prevents - through either malice or misconfiguration - misrouting of calls or theft of phone numbers.
IME prevents spam. IME brings to the table a new form of VoIP spam prevention. This new mechanism is self-automated, and requires no configuration from administrators or end users. Unwanted calls are blocked at the enterprise firewall. There is no "open pinhole". SIP processing at the firewall itself stops unwanted calls dead in their tracks.
IME is under enterprise control. The enterprise administrator is in the drivers seat. They can decide which phone numbers participate, and which ones don't. They decide what features are enabled, and which ones aren't. If they want, they can use IME only with specific enterprises, identified just by domain name. They can block IME from working with specific phone number prefixes or country codes.
IME is scalable. IME works no matter how many enterprises use it. Whether its one, ten, a thousand, or a hundred thousand enterprises, IME scales all the way up.
IME achieves these goals by forming a unique hybrid of three technologies - the PSTN, SIP, and distributed hash tables (DHT) - better known as peer-to-peer networks. Here, the peer-to-peer network runs amongst servers under enterprise control. Peer-to-peer is often associated with illegal file sharing and desktop software. However, that is just one use of this incredibly powerful technology. IME uses it in a different way - a way that is controlled, secure, and enables a scalable solution to the federation problem.
Finally, the path to the future I've been painting has arrived. The boundaries between enterprises will be broken down, and the power of collaboration will be fully realized.