Intelligent Device Management for UC: Complete Checklist

Growing complexity within UC&C infrastructures increasingly drives the requirement for a robust management tool that not only provides detailed information about a wide range of different endpoint devices, but also offers high-quality and near real-time support options in case a problem arises.

Team chat, audio and video conferencing, online meetings... as enterprise communications and collaboration environments become more complex, IT managers face new challenges in managing the UC devices in use.

Make no mistake, UC device management's role is significant and extends from the early planning stages to during and especially after full communication platform deployment. Unfortunately, UC managers often treat it as an afterthought. For example, if a conference call is poor in quality, end users often blame the platform, and IT must confirm or point out that the device (or even the behavior of the end user) may be at the root of the problem. The results have an influence on both the average time required to solve the problem and the company's device procurement strategy.

Is a UC Device Management Solution Useful?

For most companies, the answer can be derived from these two sets of questions:

  1. How often do support cases occur per device? And, what's the associated cost and IT helpdesk resource hit per case?
  2. Does the UC device management solution provide the information in such a way that all departments involved in the process -- from engineering to operations or support -- are provided with relevant data without further departmental effort from the decision makers or C-level management?

Additionally, companies should discuss a variety of type-specific questions and requirements before introducing UC device management software. The focus here is on the description of handsets and headsets, since this discussion would also cover other device segments (video conferencing, common area phones, etc.).

Device Management for IP Desktop Phones

Across all industries, 10% to 15% (and still declining) of all devices can be expected to be desktop IP phones with handsets. Usage scenarios fall into the following buckets:

  • Office workplace (the IP phone is assigned to a user)
  • Factory floor (the phone is shared among a group of users)
  • Common area (phones in meeting rooms, elevators, lobbies, etc.)

Since IP phones are configured via software, the overall set of management considerations must meet the following requirements:

Operations

  • Simple, centralized installation and configuration -- "zero touch"
  • Centralized distribution of firmware updates depending on the compliance policy
  • Automated bulk distribution of global terminal settings (e.g., language, region, etc.) independent of model and manufacturer
  • Import and export of the configuration files to fulfill various compliance regulations
  • Listing or searching devices by model and/or location
  • Information about the MAC address, model type, timestamp, IP address, and current and deployed version of the firmware

Support

  • Reporting and monitoring of the call quality and usability of the devices
  • Remote recovery capability
  • Automated firmware update, configurable by time, region, and user category
  • Central configurability of language, time, speed-dial buttons, etc.
  • Central creation and distribution of group policies
  • Automated creation of inventory lists

Device Management for UC Headsets

What are the operations and support requirements given that most employees will be using either a Bluetooth or corded UC headset?

Operations

  • Automated creation of inventory lists
  • Automated information about supportability and usage time
  • Automated information and implementation of acoustic shock adjustments
  • Automated firmware updates according to time, region, and user profile
  • Information about the quality or interference of radio connections between base station and headset, especially in open-plan offices

Support

  • Monitoring the state of charge and aging of the battery
  • Problem-solving suggestions for resolving wireless density issues
  • Information about whether the microphone or the handset is defective
  • Analysis of user and desktop problems -- for example, was the conversation made using the headset microphone or incorrectly made using the webcam or laptop?
  • Echo and background noise detection and analysis

UC "Futures": Intelligent Device Management

The answers to the above questions and checklist point to an intelligent device management (IDM) future. However, IDM can only be optimally utilized when all information about the device is correlated with information about network or wireless LAN quality, state of the gateways, provider availability, and so on.

The central feature of a software-based solution for monitoring, reporting, analysis, and device management within a UC platform is the ability to display all voice quality-related information and interactions. Such insights will not only demonstrate the resulting dependency, but also simultaneously allow for the system to offer guidance to Level 1 and Level 2 end-user support personnel.

Growing complexity within UC and collaboration infrastructures increasingly drives the requirement for a robust management tool that not only provides detailed information about a wide range of different endpoint devices, but also offers high-quality and near real-time support options in case a problem arises. The ability of such software to collect data passively, and subsequently proactively monitor a company's UC infrastructure for vulnerabilities, can offer significant ROI for the enterprise.