More and more enterprises today are considering the cloud as their option for their enterprise unified communications (UC) deployment on the promises of reduced management costs and quicker access to key features. The hosted UC providers who supply the cloud for these deployments have their clients believing that any and all UC network challenges will be solved overnight.
The highly intricate and converged networks that support today’s unified communications ecosystems are made up of a variety of vital, real-time communication applications that include VoIP, video and conferencing/collaboration. The complexity of the UC network does not magically disappear if you move the servers from the enterprise data center to a hosted UC provider. The truth is, it increases the complexity by adding the hosted provider and carrier transport domains to the network. For enterprises considering a move to UC, especially cloud-based, the probability of a poor user experience can be very high. Issues such as network congestion, latency and configuration errors can threaten to disrupt an enterprise’s UC ecosystem.
By marketing the overall value of the cloud solution they feature and lowering the barriers of entry, some hosted UC providers are actually de-valuing the channel partner itself. When this happens, many enterprises unfortunately believe that the cost of their communications integrator can be cut, which in the end can pose a serious problem for the enterprise UC network.
In this situation, the role the channel partner plays in the process is absolutely vital when it comes to migrating a UC ecosystem to the cloud. Just because the servers are transported to the cloud does not eliminate the need to ensure the network is ready for the real time UC traffic to the endpoint or that the users themselves are ready to utilize this new system. Not only does it add more complexity, it adds the responsibility for the enterprise to defend their UC environment and hold the hosted UC provider accountable for any poor calls or user experiences.
The first test the enterprise and the hosted UC provider must pass is the network assessment. By leveraging a pre-deployment network assessment, enterprises can ensure from the start that their customer environment and carrier connection to the cloud are ready for the traffic it must carry. It must be made a priority to ensure that voice, video and collaboration traffic can cross the network without worrying about a failure. By testing the network in real-time with simulated traffic, IT professionals can proceed with the confidence that the network can handle the amount of traffic that is demanded of it.
To the UC hosting provider, there is inherent resistance in utilizing network assessments as the cost of moving to a hosted model is increased, with the hosting provider not receiving the value of that part of their customer’s overall costs. To the enterprise however, the biggest value driver is the user experience. Most enterprises realize that moving to a hosted UC provider can be extremely risky if the network is not ready to handle the UC traffic. What is the point in putting of all of your users in a hosted UC provider’s data center if your network cannot effectively deliver the traffic? Sophisticated enterprises understand the value of ensuring that the network will be able to sufficiently handle the traffic before moving its users to a hosted cloud environment.
Network Assessment tools give enterprises advanced capabilities to pre-assess the network, troubleshoot potential communications quality issues and evaluate in real-time any problems that may occur. A proper network assessment will drive synthetic traffic through the network, giving enterprises the ability to monitor Quality of Service (QoS) within the UC environment, simulate voice and video traffic patterns throughout the network and enable IT personnel to weed out possible concerns, all at the same time.
Enterprises need a trusted partner who can effectively design, operate and evaluate the results of a tool-driven network. To meet the client’s expectations, the partner requires a tool they can cost effectively and efficiently use to create an accurate overview of the performance of their UC network. The network assessment is a critical component of any migration to unified communications and enterprises need to invest in not only a product, but a partner that can deliver reliable results and provide piece of mind when it comes to the ability of the network ecosystem to support the proposed UC traffic.
There will be an increase in the demand for network pre-assessments as more vendors push for the development of more complex voice, video and collaboration applications to use on the UC network. Enterprises will want to know that their networks can handle these types of applications without fail, and that the network will always be there if and when they require it.
Matt Christopher is charged with championing and driving channel and sales operations with an emphasis on improving the customer experience. Christopher brings a diverse background of experience and expertise including sales, sales engineering, sales management and channel management supporting Microsoft, Avaya and Cisco. Prior to joining Nectar, he held the position of Director Global Alliances responsible for working with the Americas Microsoft Lync Alliance. Previously, Matt had been the Voice Partner Development Manager for Microsoft where he led the recruitment, onboarding, and support of Microsoft Lync business partners. He also served in various alliance and account management roles at Avaya and Nortel. Mr. Christopher holds an MBA from UCLA and a BBA from The George Washington University.