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Evolving UC Management in the Age of Cloud
The age of cloud communications has arrived. Metrigy’s data shows that more than 47% of companies now use unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) for all or some of their calling, meeting, and messaging needs. Among those still on-premises, more than one-quarter plan to shift to the cloud by the end of 2022.
The migration to UCaaS requires a rethinking of how companies address UC security, performance, administration, and endpoint management needs. Simply shifting application servers from on-premises to the cloud doesn’t absolve IT leaders of management responsibilities. It requires evolving management approaches to ensure acceptable performance for all employees and avoid finger-pointing between application providers and network service providers. This approach becomes more difficult with the rise of remote and hybrid work and the growing use of video.
Recently, Metrigy published the results of our "Unified Communications and Management Endpoints: 2021-22" study of approximately 400 companies. As part of this study, we identified 68 participating organizations who had achieved higher than average return on investment in the form of cost savings, revenue increases, in addition to productivity gains associated with their investments in collaboration technology. Here are five UC management strategies linked to the move to UCaaS that correlate with success.
1. Invest in Appropriate Tools
About 41% of our success group, compared with 27% of overall participants, have invested in new management tools to support a move to UCaaS. These include administrative, endpoint, performance, and security management tools to provide end-to-end visibility for both in-office and home employees. Those deploying their own UC management tools see tangible benefits, including faster mean-time-to-repair and shorter provisioning times. Consider tools that provide visibility into both UC applications and underlying network services to enable rapid identification of trouble spots.
2. Integrate UC Management and IT Service Management (ITSM)
More than 72% of successful companies, compared to just 53% of all companies, integrate their UC management tools with their ITSM platforms (e.g., ServiceNow, Solar Winds, etc.) Integrating these platforms provides level one help-desk personnel insight into UC applications and configurations to enable faster problem identification and resolution. For example, a help desk person answering a call could easily determine the device, firmware level, and other configuration information of a videoconferencing room system or desktop telephone.
3. Invest in Endpoint Management
While headset management apps including Jabra Direct, Logi Tune, Poly Lens, and Sennheiser Smart Control have been around for a few years, the applications are rapidly evolving to support video and additional audio endpoints. In many cases, these apps integrate with UC management platforms from vendors, including Integrated Research, Nectar, Unify Square, and Virsae. Endpoint management apps provide consistent configuration management, inventory control, firmware and software updates. These apps also present a rapid identification of devices that are experiencing problems or have gone off-line, even when devices get deployed to remote employees.
4. Deploy a Security Management Platform
Almost 58% of successful companies, compared to 36% of non-successful ones, have deployed or will deploy by the end of 2021, a security platform specifically for UC. These platforms provide various benefits, including consistent policy enforcement across multiple apps, rapid identification and isolation of attacks or threats, and the ability to automate response and restoration. Security platforms vary in their capabilities. So, it’s important to select one that aligns with your deployment strategy. If you’re using “bring your own carrier” (BYOC) for PSTN connectivity, you’ll want to ensure that your security platform can manage session border controllers and protect against toll fraud. You should also consider security platforms that enable protection against emerging threats, such as attacks across messaging channels, via meeting apps, or guest account access to communication applications.
5. Extend Management to Remote Workers
Successful companies are significantly more likely to extend IT support to the home, providing guidance in picking the right Internet plan, assessing home Wi-Fi performance and coverage, and remotely managing voice and video quality. With the majority of employees now working either fully remote or in a hybrid fashion, IT can no longer treat the home office as a ‘best effort’ location and instead must ensure that it has visibility into UC performance to the employee, wherever they may be.
To achieve success, it’s critical to ensure that your UC management strategy evolves as you move to the cloud. Confirm you have the right platforms, integrations, and ability to support both in-office and remote employees equally.