Bringing voice and data together has been an idea that has taken a long time to get here.

It should come as no surprise that the industry would work to bring voice and data together. About a dozen years ago, when I was working in the data division of an equipment manufacturer (we had a carrier-oriented X.25 switching product that was pretty revolutionary. It used connection-oriented services (like X.25) over a connection-less subnet (like IP) for greater reliability and network utilization – no traffic? no network resources were consumed) which was sold direct. One marketing guy in the enterprise voice division (which was sold through distribution channels) said it was great that the company had a voice and data story.

At the time, I thought the fellow was not very bright. Putting voice and data together? What a preposterous idea. I mean, data networks (for that company) cost a minimum of $2.5 million, and were only sold to the largest and most sophisticated companies around. The PBX business was all about distribution channels and local devices attached to the Public Network.

Little did I know that at that time, 3Com had been promoting Ethernet for more than a decade, and that it would dominate the market for local data networking, or that John Roth would bet it all on Convergence story – the Bay Networks acquisition in 1998.

It seems that you can't really spot the seminal moments without hindsight.

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