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IR Raises UC Management IQ

The idea of communications-enabling business processes (CEPB) seems to be gaining traction, at long last. But along with the business benefits like improved productivity and better customer experience will come the IT downsides of increased complexity and trickier troubleshooting.

I talked about this challenge last week with Darc Rasmussen, CEO of Integrated Research, which offers performance management software for unified communications and contact center environments. Via IR Prognosis, the company's UC solution, more than 12 million Avaya, Cisco and Microsoft endpoints are under management, he said.

portableDarc Rasmussen, IR

In fact, just last week IR received notice that it is has reached elite status in the Microsoft ecosystem, and is now a Microsoft Gold Partner for communications, Rasmussen said. And now the company has extended its reach into UC testing with the May 4 acquisition of IQ Services. The acquisition, although not of high monetary value at a base price of $1.5 million (plus potential earn-out payments, capped at $3.5 million, over the next three years), ups IR's stake in UC performance management, he said.

Prognosis already provides deep visibility into UC and contact center environments, taking hundreds of thousands, if not a million, points of reference and providing real-time and historical views into those entire ecosystems, he explained. It serves up this intelligence in dashboards, providing enterprise IT managers the insight they need to troubleshoot, optimize their set-ups, and manage change across both UC and contact center environments. But sometimes the challenge for IT managers is that they don't know whether the system they're implementing is going to work as intended or if the changes they've initiated will work for users in real life, he added. With the addition of IQ Services' testing capabilities, IR can now assuage such concerns, he said.

IQ Services delivers cloud-based testing capabilities in the software-as-a-service model. It uses what Rasmussen called "virtual customer technology" to generate real customer transactions. Enterprises can run heartbeat tests, pinging the network at the start of the day to check for performance issues, as well as conduct stress testing on their environments, for example.

Enterprise IT managers are going to need ever-deeper insight into their communications and contact center environments as the CEBP, WebRTC, and mobility trends continue and as the number of interactions initiated via instant messaging (IM) sessions grows, Rasmussen said. More and more, he added, IR sees the escalation of an IM session to voice interaction, which then might morph into document-sharing or video conferencing sessions into which participants pull in additional users. "UC interactions are getting richer and richer as they move along."

All of these trends, as exciting as they are in their promotion of increased communications and collaboration, have the potential to amount to one massive IT headache -- especially given the likelihood that the UC ecosystem involves more than one vendor's products.

"With the benefits of communications-enablement and RTC from the browser comes the old, traditional challenge -- and that's more complexity," Rasmussen agreed. "Now that we're connecting more applications and bringing more business processes into the ecosystem, the dependency on that ecosystem working is even greater than ever."

That means business processes must be brought into the UC performance management environment, and Prognosis has the ability to enable that. "The good news is that for many years we've been hooking into enterprise service buses and middleware like [IBM] MQSeries for business process management," he said.

What's more, IQ Services offers a full live testing capability for WebRTC. "As enterprises implement WebRTC transactions, they will know [everything] is ready and working as expected."

No doubt, communications are growing in complexity -- but that doesn't faze IR in the least.

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