Comment: Making unified communications work

Unified communications (UC) is a growing consideration for enterprises. One of the main drivers behind this growth is a desire for improved employee productivity through more effective collaboration.

Unified communications (UC) is a growing consideration for enterprises. One of the main drivers behind this growth is a desire for improved employee productivity through more effective collaboration.

This can be achieved through a unified global network infrastructure, which in turn increases UC performance and simplifies its deployment. But when it comes to reselling the technology, how should the channel transmit this message to its customers?
The typical UC deployment focuses on three things: getting all the applications to work together; getting the applications to perform effectively across the corporate network; and making them available across the enterprise for all eligible employees.

This is by no means an easy task, which is why most IT staff wait until after the UC solution is deployed before they address managing this performance across the wide area network. Although understandable, this delayed management consideration can lead to less than ideal performance of these applications going forward.

Simplified UC deployment relies on predictable applications performance, and nothing simplifies application transport more than a single, ubiquitous IP MPLS network. This option means that end users make cost savings by migrating all applications (voice, data and video) onto one network and connecting all office sites end-to-end.

Furthermore, quality of service levels are increased with a seamless network service at every business location for highly predictable application performance.

Even sophisticated “do-it-yourself” IT staff can accelerate their UC deployment by selecting an advanced IP network that supports real-time applications, enables secure communications between private corporate networks, and delivers embedded network services that scale quickly and easily.

Another pressure enterprises are applying to the channel is the politically and economically led desire to reduce their carbon emissions. This is an area where the effective deployment of UC can contribute positively.

Videoconferencing (VC) is increasingly seen as a greener alternative to travelling to meetings. With business travel, particularly air travel, contributing a large proportion of companies’ carbon footprints and expenditure, VC is a prime enterprise application emerging from the UC trend, especially when deployed in high definition video systems.

In the past, most corporate VC solutions have resided on private networks, allowing for secure intra-company communication but limiting inter-company communication.

One of the emerging requirements for UC solutions is the ability to communicate among companies. However, problems are emerging with security and ease of deployment issues. It is imperative to choose a network service that allows customers to establish secure temporary or permanent connections between video devices on private corporate networks, quickly and easily.

These connections should be limited to communications only between those devices, so neither private corporate network is exposed to the other company.

Purpose-built is best
As businesses seeks better ways to simplify the management of multiple communications and messaging devices, while also improving communications integration and access for remote and mobile workers, they often begin with trying to deploy this UC solution on an enterprise’s existing corporate network.

Although tempting in the short term, this can prove to be detrimental to the company by slowing the deployment of a robust UC solution. By migrating to an advanced IP MPLS network that is purpose-built to support UC applications, resellers can assume a more competitive position and ultimately reap the financial rewards.

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