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Unified Communications: A Lesson You Don”t Want to Learn the Hard Way

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

One of the costly and painful lessons some large to mid-size enterprises (LMEs) discovered in their rush to install the latest and greatest technologies is that unified communications (UC) isn’t just another application that can be easily bolted onto a standard network. Instead, to get the most from UC you need a Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network that’s been optimized for converged voice and data. That network also needs to be “application-aware,” and designed for use in the cloud in order to deliver cloud-based application effectively.

That’s why, despite the many potential productivity and collaboration advantages UC offers, many distributed enterprises have been reluctant to commit to it. Their legacy infrastructure, which they are reluctant to give up, makes it exceedingly difficult to actually unify communications across the network. Also, the sheer complexity of converging voice, data and video communications (and managing all of the vendors supporting those systems) means that many companies lack the staff and budget to get the most out of their existing communications infrastructure.

But today, what many companies don’t realize is that a cloud-based approach, combined with a hosted application-aware network, can easily address many of the issues that may be delaying their efforts to move forward into unified communications, including:

  • Legacy MPLS network services and a multitude of service providers
  • Legacy TDM PBX equipment that they intend to keep in service
  • On-premise IP PBX systems that they also intend to keep in service
  • Contact center platforms and services that must be incorporated in a unified communications solution
  • The need to add new locations in places where they don’t yet have the infrastructure built out

The good news is, they can upgrade without completely overhauling the network. By taking a hosted approach, LMEs can more easily deploy a converged, all-IP network as a fully managed infrastructure – one with unprecedented application performance, flexibility and resiliency, and with a level of insight into its network health that was never before possible.

Of course, the thought of moving their communications into the cloud is still unsettling for some CIOs. To allay those fears, hosted systems can and should provide LMEs with better visibility and control, not to mention much more enhanced security from external threats though centralized managed security on a single communications platform.

LMEs must balance the competing needs of the Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management, and other ERP systems without adversely affecting business performance. An application-aware network enables companies to achieve the most effective, dynamic bandwidth allocation without the need to over-provision dedicated Internet access and other services. The high-quality, QoS-enabled network connectivity of an application-aware network ensures that the company has the bandwidth it needs at all times, especially for the most important, time-sensitive applications.

The lesson here is that the hosted application-aware network is making it possible to deliver true unified communications and improved network performance while leveraging legacy technologies. Which means unified communications today can finally deliver real-time communications, centralized applications and cloud-based services much more efficiently and effectively across even the most widely distributed enterprise.

Originally posted at: http://unified-communications.tmcnet.com/topics/unified-communications/articles/233274-unified-communications-lesson-dont-want-learn-hard-way.htm

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