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.
This section offers learning tools to help you plan your unified communications implementation.
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 past few weeks, I’ve been to multiple conferences with UC dealers – and the topic on their minds is the cloud. Many traditional premises equipment VARs are yet to get serious about the cloud, but they know that needs to change. The question is: how to cloud? There are lots of factors to consider, starting with the core service model. These are the basic choices:
Most VARs have a core competency around making systems work. In many cases VARs already have the equipment and customers to get things started. VARs considering this should gravitate toward a multi-tenant platform housed in a proper data center. However, self-hosting is not as easy as it may look because getting the core system up is the easy part. The hard part is in the operations. Service providers considering this route need to think hard about their core competencies – and if recurring services, colocation, billing, and at least three nines is not among them – stop, rethink. The trick to self hosting lies in economies of scale. Even worse, as prices change, they will be declining, not increasing. The simplest arrangement is for the customer to provide dedicated carrier services. Bigger self-hosters should consider becoming a CLEC or a close partnership with one.
It might make more sense (cost less) to let someone else leverage their investment – and instead focus on building the revenue stream. Wholesaling offers the benefits of an instant infrastructure and mature service that the dealer can control including the branding, feature packs, and pricing. There are plenty of providers out there that allow rebranding. Billing services, one of the more complex aspects of hosted services, may or may not be provided by the wholesaler. The risk here is that the asset (recurring revenue base) is only valuable if the service is good – and ultimately someone else is completely responsible for the service. This is critical to understand – most wholesalers will offer highly reliable services, but the investment and value built is ultimately associated with someone else’s business. Switching wholesalers is possible, but not trivial. Plus, the new brand will never be as well known as any of the (20?) major brands out there. Building a brand is not a minor undertaking.
Unlike the premises gig where the VAR buys and resell equipment, cloud providers tend to favor an agent model and use the channel to broker new direct relationships between the provider and end user. It can be a bit scary to turn over customer relationships, but most VARs have done it for years with carrier arrangements. Ultimately the long term relationship between VAR/Agent and customer is up to the VAR. Some agent models still allow the VAR to service the account, or at a minimum provide any related onsite equipment like POE switches and endpoints. Most of the premises vendors that now offer cloud services are pushing this approach, and are counting hosted services sales toward total purchases. Carriers are also frequently lumping the services into existing residual agreements.
Those are the primary paths to a public cloud – there’s also the option of specializing in private clouds – and most vendor solutions are now embracing some form of virtualization. Big differences exist in the depth of virtualization support, management, and integration. The private cloud option aligns best with the traditional premises-based business model, but VARs need to be careful as virtualization and hypervisor technologies and operations require specialized skills.
It’s a long list – VARs are more accustomed to their customers having a long list of criteria, but it’s effectively the same thing – now the VAR must pick the right platform. VARs need to be clear that technologies are moving quickly, and not assume that tomorrow's offers and choices will be the same as today’s. That means careful consideration needs to be given to each option’s trajectory, commitment, and past performance. Dave Michels is a UC Expert and also blogs at TalkingPointz.com.
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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?