The UCStrategies Experts share their expertise in bylined articles, opinion pieces, blogs, and podcasts, to define unified communications, educate you about unified communications technologies, and help you make informed decisions about unified communications solutions.
UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
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This section provides a practical, vendor-independent service to any Enterprise that is seeking the benefits of Unified Communications. How do you pull everything together to implement unified communications? Use the tools in this sequence to define unified communications for your business.
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The general availability of Avaya’s new IP Office 8.1 expands the reach of this UCC platform from its single site capacity under IP Office 8.0 of five to 384 users to five to 1,000 users under R8.1. Both platforms support up to 1,000 users across 32 locations in any mix of IP, digital, analog or SIP endpoints when supported by the IP Office 500v2 gateway. The expanded addressable market is reached with the introduction of IP Office Server Edition – a Linux-based server running the Avaya one-X Portal for IP Office. The expanded feature/functionality set is said to be responsive to the voices of both partners and customers who have emphasized the importance of supporting work at home, flexible hours, BYOD (Android and iOS devices), easy installation and scalability and, of course, increased focus on customer sales and service at a competitive total cost of ownership (TCO).
From a single GUI the system administrator has one view of all users at a single site or across up to 32 locations simplifying day-to-day administration of users, groups and call routing across the entire network. And using system status the administrator can, at a glance, be advised of any potential issues that could affect system performance such as over-utilized trunk lines, voice ports, and bandwidth utilization. Server Editionalso holds all common licenses centrally, making it cost effective to purchase discounted license packs and easy for a system administrator to assign user solutions to employees anywhere within the network. In order to leverage this capability, volume discounted licensing packs have been made available. There are now single user packs, 10-, 20- and 50-user packs.
Allowing people to work effectively from anywhere means equipping their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices with software that enables seamless business operations. New with IP Office 8.1 are both one-X Mobile Preferred and Flare Communicator.
Movement up-market brings networking infrastructure and security center-stage.
Avaya IP Office Support Service is the first support service from Avaya for SMEs. This service provides remote resolution, hardware and software technical support from experts (8x5x5) and includes access to all major software upgrades and delivery of software maintenance corrections and new releases. Support also incorporates web ticketing for faster routing and assignment of requests for service, knowledge base search, how to-videos, live agents on the web, and video chat. Secure remote monitoring and delivery of major upgrades and patches, as well as expert support is provided by new SSL-VPN capabilities embedded in Avaya IP Office 8.1. Contract options include one-, three-, or five-year terms, 24x7x365 support, and parts replacement. Avaya partners can offer support services via wholesale or co-delivery models.
To Customers: IP Office 8.1 Server Edition brings this UCC platform into play in a broader market. As we said above, IP Office will now support up to 1,000 users at one site or distributed across 32 locations in any mix of IP, digital, analog or SIP endpoints. The two key solution differentiators here are the centralized management capability and the availability of Support Services. These are “nice-to-haves” but certainly not unique to IP Office; so look around. There are good reasons to do so. There are plenty of feature/functionality vs. TCO tradeoffs out there to choose from. For example, Avaya, NEC, and Siemens scored the top three overall subjective rankingsin the Premise IP Telephony + UC RFP competition at this year’s Enterprise Connect. And over the last two months just about every major IP PBX/UC vendor has announced significant system feature/functionality enhancements consistent with their individual go-to-market (G2M) strategies.
Customers should carefully assess the plethora of competitive solutions for the right fit – no one size fits all – in terms of the risk-adjusted benefits and TCO. Risk considerations need to cover such items as the impact of the new system on competitive differentiation; ability to scale to meet demand in alternative geographies; the impact of M&A on interoperability requirements; alignment of future business requirements with currently offered feature/functionality and UCC solution’s technology roadmap, and business continuity – think of uptime, mean time to repair, and availability of SLAs.
Another important consideration is the business partner you deal with. The right UCC solution choice is dependent on individual business requirements. SMEs, from small businesses to upper midmarket companies, are looking for a local “solution seller” to come in, sit down and talk intelligently about the business and propose a solution that makes sense based on the state of its current telecom solution, assessment of its data network, your current cost parameters and drivers, and compelling events affecting your business.
To Partners: The big story of the day is the new opportunities open to partners and the Avaya G2M enablement strategy. The biggest near-term opportunity lies with enterprise partners interested in building out or expanding their midmarket (1000 > users > 100) practices. Year-to-date Avaya has recruited over 400 partners with anticipation of this launch uppermost in mind. There’s a wide opportunity, as well, with traditionally small business-focused (users < 100) partners who’ve made all of the investments in understanding and servicing the IP Office platform to leverage their current skill sets and compete for richer deals. There are no new certifications that they have to do in order to take this platform on.
IP Office 8.1 solution selling could easily lead to engagements involving hybrid deployments with cloud services for remote and small branches, broader and deeper network assessments and upgrades with opportunities to incorporate the new Avaya SBCs and ERS 3500 Ethernet routing switches, as well as sales and management of IP Office’s new support services which partners can offer via wholesale or co-delivery models. Cross-selling support services is definitely a value add as the utilization of remote diagnostics will reduce partner truck rolls, increase margins, and provide additional touch points for partner/customer interaction. Customers will benefit through reduced time for software upgrades and delivery of software maintenance corrections and new releases.
Partners are being supported by Avaya in a number of ways:
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?