Unified Communications Featured Article

Ask the Experts When Deploying the Right Unified Communications Solution

April 08, 2013

Cookie-cutter unified communications (UC) solutions might be tempting, with a good price point and a bevy of features. But don’t be fooled: One size does not fit all when it comes to UC.

“UC should align with client business goals to make those organizations better at their businesses,” wrote James Whitemore in a recent blog post, executive VP of West IP Communications, a provider of cloud-based communications solutions. “A UC solution for each company is going to be different based on several factors: what the company does, what types of clients it serves, the kinds of partners it works with, the structure of its supply chain, and even the different ways in which its employees work.”

Whitemore recommends UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS), arguing that it makes more sense to hand over UC to a partner who makes UC its focus. Even if a business already has invested in on-premises equipment and thinks it has the staff to deploy UC by itself, it would be wise to leverage the experience of a channel partner to get UC right.

One reason a channel partner makes sense is because it is important to understand the implications of UC on the entire business.

“Too often, companies make the move to UC in a siloed approach – just involving the network or telco teams,” wrote Whitemore. “The key for a successful UC implementation is to involve all functional areas of business, such as finance, HR, manufacturing, customer service, and remote sites and workers to discuss how UC tools can positively impact their operations and processes.”

Another important factor to consider when looking for the right UC solution is realizing that it isn’t necessary to rip out all existing infrastructure and replace it with new UC hardware.

“At least some of the existing equipment may still hold business value when coupled with the right UCaaS investments,” he noted. “Channel partners should help clients establish roadmaps that enable enterprises to reach their UC goals. Doing so will help UC service providers determine if infrastructure needs to be replaced entirely, or if it is a sound business investment to integrate existing technologies.”

A third reason to use a channel partner is getting the network right. The right network infrastructure is key, and a good partner can help guide a business to the right technology solution.

“A managed network approach should be able to provide intelligent application-based routing, sophisticated management and control, and the best network performance possible through MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching),” noted Whitemore.

MPLS is a key technology component to look at when it comes to UC. MPLS directs and carries data from one network node to the next and makes it easy to create virtual links between distant nodes, making real-time communications via UC much more reliable.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking one size fits all when it comes to UC.

Edited by Braden Becker