“Unified Communications” refers to the integration of such things as e-mail, instant messaging, telephony, and videoconferencing. This concept is on the eve of a breakthrough because a lot of higher education institutions intend using it. The “presence” component is a unifying factor: the ability to see at a glance whether a colleague is available and how.
A project group made up of representatives of twelve Dutch higher education institutions was formed early in 2009 with the objective of promoting the use of Unified Communications. The group has requested SURFnet – as the higher education and research partnership for network services and ICT – to develop a number of specific activities to achieve that objective. One example is the setting up of a national Unified Communications infrastructure that extends beyond the level of the individual institutions.