Successfully managing unified communications requires insight into platform performance and security, as well as optimizing provisioning and ongoing administrative management. The core requirements for UC management include the following:
- conducting pre-deployment network testing to ensure it can support acceptable voice and video quality;
- provisioning users to include phone numbers and personas;
- ongoing performance management that identifies potential problems before users become aware of an issue and enables rapid identification, isolation and repair of issues;
- insight into security risks, including the ability to both define and provision proper security policies and obtain notification of attacks in real time as they happen;
- ongoing administration to support moves, adds, changes and deletions, as well as self-service, like password resets;
- Enhanced 911 management to ensure location tracking and emergency call routing are correctly configured; and
- analytics that provide insight into application usage and business impact of UC adoption.
Challenges of vendor-provided management tools
Most companies rely on the management tools included in their UC platforms. Generally, these tools offer basic administrative management capabilities for initial provisioning and ongoing management, as well as some level of performance insight. But relying solely on UC vendor-provided tools has limitations, including the following:
- the inability to manage a multivendor environment, meaning IT staff must use separate tools or management consoles for each UC app;
- a lack of integration with existing network management tools to enable end-to-end performance insight -- this may be especially true for cloud UC providers that lack insight into where performance issues may occur within the enterprise LAN and WAN;
- a lack of detailed insights into performance, usage and security that only come from vendors that offer specialty products; and
- limited support for integrating management tools with HR systems and other applications to enable rapid provisioning and automated ongoing administration.
To address these challenges, several third-party vendors offer specialty performance management or administrative tools to optimize UC management. Performance management vendors include Empirix, IR, Martello, Nectar, Oracle, Riverbed, Unify Square, Voss and Vyopta. Third-party vendors that offer administrative tools include Kurmi and Unimax, as well as many of the aforementioned performance management vendors.
UC management supports higher ROI
Companies that adopted specialty tools for administration and performance management saw around 28% operational and administrative cost savings compared to companies that relied solely on vendor-provided management capabilities, according to a Nemertes Research study of more than 625 end-user organizations.
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Companies with the highest ROI for their UC investments spent 97% more on performance management and 49% more on administrative management tools than those with low ROI, according to the study. Given the demonstrable cost savings and differentiation in spending on specialty management tools by successful organizations, it is clear that investing in specialty management tools offers quantifiable benefits in terms of lower costs and greater overall ROI for UC spend.
IT leaders should revisit their UC management strategy, especially as they move to the cloud, to ensure they are optimally set up for day-to-day operational, performance and security management. IT leaders should investigate the potential of specialty management tools to deliver improved insight into platform performance, as well as reduced operational costs.