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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NEC's UNIVERGE 3C UCC platform, originally announced last March and demoed at Enterprise Connect 2012, is now generally available. Over the past couple of weeks we have analyzed a number of recent press releases highlighting significant updates to the competition. Let’s take a look at what NEC brings to the party. NEC’s UNIVERGE 3C (3C) is a serious addition to a rich and competitive market. At Enterprise Connect’s Premise IP Telephony + UC RFP competition the 3C did well, placing in the top three in overall subjective rankings among the nine contestants in each of the three RFP scenarios.
The UNIVERGE brand replaces the Sphericall brand acquired with the 2007 acquisition of Sphere Communications. It has been designed as a single software application platform which operates across premise, cloud or hybrid environments. The 3C has been selling predominately in the upper midmarket to low-end enterprise with deployments ranging from 400 to 5,000 users, though one system can support up to 30K users. Key verticals are education, healthcare, government and hospitality. The 3C software architecture is certified by the Joint Interoperability Task Command (JITC). The JITC certification also means that UNIVERGE 3C meets critical interoperability requirements and achieves five nines reliability. This certification is not only mandatory for the DOD, but is becoming critical for other government agencies and verticals such as healthcare, legal and finance.
UNIVERGE 3C is a distributed software application that can be deployed on dedicated servers or on virtual machines (Hyper-V and VMware) in the same datacenter or across multiple sites in different datacenters. These instances of the software combine and replicate to create a single system at scale. This N+1 distributed architecture eliminates any single point of failure while presenting a single system image forsoftware feature operations and systems administration.
The 3C leverages a Rich Internet Application (RIA) framework for its UC clients. RIA is a web application that has many of the characteristics of desktop application software, but is better aligned with what IT wants than the fat apps that you install on the desktop and have to manage. At the same time RIA leverages standard security methods (e.g. HTTPS/SSL, certificates). The client itself hosts an Adobe Flash platform that houses the same code base regardless of device OS – Apple, Android, Windows. Additionally, with its common set of enterprise login credentials, users can access their UCC tools from any device, from anywhere, securely. Much like Internet applications, user settings, contact lists, virtual meetings, and the look and feel is consistent across mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) or PC. This approach aligns with the demands of the emerging “always on” and “always mobile” workforce and the demand of IT organizations to create a more productive and collaborative environment.
Among the 3C’s UCC feature set are:
The 3C’s software platform was designed with encryption and security protocols such as SSL and HTPPS connectivity for UC clients, and SIP connectivity that includes SRTP and TLS standard security methods. Rights-based security and class-of-service profiling are included in the feature set. The NEC approach to the design and delivery of its mobile clients is abstracted from, but not duplicative of Mobile Device and Application Management (MDM and MAM) software. For example, a UC client is useless unless the user has an authorized account on the enterprise site. And that could include credentials that have certificates associated with that authentication as well. Once a user logs in all their individualized policies are applied and based on those settings approved contact lists, apps, etc are loaded on that client. Dynamic configuration profiles can be placed on the server.
To Customers: The UNIVERGE 3C is a single software application platform which operates across premise, cloud or hybrid environments. As an on-prem deployment, the 3C is designed for a minimum deployment of 100 users. Though, as indicated above, the sweet spot is in 400 to 5,000 user range. The 3C is licensed purely on capacity. In other words, users are licensed on the overall system, and then you profile the resources utilized.
And for existing NEC customers a software-based integration with the 3C is easily accomplished. This allows those customers to enable 3C UCC capabilities for their information workers while still continuing the use of their existing assets for other employees without requiring specialized gateways. Moreover, NEC IP phones can be reused. The 3C installation will see the endpoint load the latest appropriate software onto that NEC device and enable it as a SIP endpoint.
All the above being said, customers should carefully assess the plethora of competitive UCC solutions out there for the right fit – no one size fits all – in terms of the risk-adjusted benefits and TCO. The main NEC competitors, worldwide, are: Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, Siemens, ShoreTel and Toshiba. 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. An even handed assessment of solution alternatives should be based on response to an RFP.
Another important consideration is the business partner you deal with. The right UCC solution choice is dependent on individual business requirements. Look for a “solution specialist” well versed in UCC to come in, sit down and talk intelligently about your business and propose a solution that makes sense based on: the state of your current telecom solution, assessment of your data network, your current cost parameters and drivers, and compelling events affecting your business.
To Partners: NEC’s go-to-market (G2M) strategy here encompasses both direct and channel partner selling. Channel partners are at the early stage of engagement with UCC and the G2M is structured to enable that skill set with a roadmap of training and certification exams. UCC engagements offer a significant pro services opportunities which can be handled by the partner of record or, if desired, by NEC on a white labeled basis. The general availability of the 3C and its high marks at Enterprise Connect should be a definite plus and stimulus for the channel. First, it underscores NEC’s commitment to UC; and second it’s a strong indication of likely customer interest in the solution. Moreover, the UNIVERGE 3C, as a single software application platform across premise, cloud or hybrid environment, offers partners the opportunity to cross-sell cloud for small/remote branch situations that present themselves.
NEC is supporting cloud sales with a partner-friendly model that leverages NEC Finance so that partners can make a measured shift to an annuity-based business model without the hit to cash flow that a flash cut from transaction-based sales incurs.
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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?