March 6, 2012

Solve the Multiple Dilemmas of UC Management

The potential reach of UC portfolios is wide. As they evolve and spread they will touch multiple people across multiple locations and utilize multiple technologies; and present multiple dilemmas when it comes to managing them.

Although performance data may be available across individual technologies and vendor platforms, it cannot be easily correlated. This means that you cannot tell how the performance of one technology is affecting another. In fact by the time you do achieve some degree of correlation by comparing information from different management interfaces, each with its own terminology, functions and features; the conditions that caused the issue in the first place will have changed. And you may be none the wiser!

This white paper looks at the dilemmas of:
  1. Managing multiple technologies
  2. Managing multiple vendor platforms

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I think this paper highlights a vital and sometimes overlooked part of ensuring the success of evolving and deployed UC infrastructure portfolios. Businesses can be so focused on achieving the UC productivity improvements they seek; they over look how they will ensure visibility into disparate components’ performance to ensure that success.

Sue Bradshaw, the paper’s author, highlights that this lack of visibility means you won’t know if the performance of any of these technologies is affecting a UC application’s functionality. I asked her to give me an example to explain this.

One of UC’s key goals is to allow people to communicate using a variety of media types. For example, you can receive a voicemail message and choose to access it through e-mail or cell phone. If the sender is online according to Presence information and currently accepts calls, the response can be sent immediately through a cell, IM or video call. Alternatively, it may be sent as a non real-time message like email.

In just describing one ‘simple’ user interaction within UC we have already mentioned six technologies!

1. Voicemail
2. Email
3. Mobility
4. Presence
5. Instant Messaging
6. Video

If any one of these technologies is unavailable or overloaded and cannot respond in time, the whole process may break. And although the variety of technologies available today makes it easier to find a way round a problem than in the past; the fundamental advantage of streamlining communications and providing choice is compromised.

And, as an IT administrator you won’t know about the problem until one or more users calls you in frustration. But it doesn’t have to be that way. All the information you need to manage these technologies is there, potentially at your fingertips, if you can just put it together in a useful way.

So, when presented with a multi-vendor UC network what is the dilemma and how do you solve it?

The dilemma you face when managing multiple and vendors’ platforms and varying technologies is that although performance information might be available, it cannot be easily correlated. In contrast if you have a window into the performance of each vendor’s platform or technology, with performance information unified as an ecosystem − both in real time and historically, you can achieve a number of outcomes including:

• Positive feedback that each component on which the UC process depends is performing according to specification.
• Alerts to degraded conditions within a UC application’s components. This may be a component that the application can function without; and the overall functionality is degraded but there is either an alternative or automatic back up plan.

Alternatively if the application is completely down, you will already be aware it’s degraded and will have had the opportunity to work on an alternative or contingency plan.

This is particularly important in communication enabled business processes (CEBP). If an application is dependent on a server running a critical part of the process and the server is not able to respond and the application times out, the advantage of automating that part of the process is lost once it requires human intervention.

Great thoughts in this white paper. I know many organizations are facing the problem of many vendors to manage and multiple technologies to maintain and measure. My question back is – what about using one vendor to deploy and manage all the technologies together? This isn’t a scenario you discussed and I’d like your take here.
We’ve been talking about this very topic a lot recently– how bringing together multiple technologies and possibly multiple vendors creates the possibility for a more streamlined experience and is better for the business. And, to your point, “is important to achieving ROI.” Feel free to take a look at some of my posts on the Networking Exchange Blog, to see some of the points we’ve made for transformation to a integrated experience.

Opinions are my own.

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