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Thinking Beyond the Platform for Skype4B Management
Microsoft's Skype for Business boasts so many rich methods of collaboration, voice, video, instant messaging, screen and document sharing -- with such seamless transitions between them all -- it’s easy to think of it as a single-vendor solution. Nothing could be further from the truth, and this false notion can pose a real danger to productivity.
We see it all too often; Skype for Business customers believe they need only monitor, manage, and optimize the platform's performance to make it work properly. This is a huge misconception. The reality is, Skype for Business’s wonderful single-source unified communications capability sits on top of a multivendor technology stack. A performance management solution that only measures, monitors, and optimizes Skype for Business itself is going to miss the mark completely. It won’t be able to deliver optimized Skype for Business ecosystem management.
Running Skype for Business today requires underlying software, hardware, and network infrastructure from many vendors. It requires full network visibility. To use Skype for Business in an enterprise voice environment, you need to have session border controllers in the form of third-party systems not made by Microsoft. And you need third-party hardware network routers at Layer 2 (such as devices from Cisco or Juniper) and media gateways to the PSTN. This may sound rudimentary, but you also need to ensure you've properly connected network cables to desktops or routers -- and those cables, too, are supplied by a wide selection of vendors.
With all this technology from disparate vendors, what happens when something goes wrong? In which haystack is the needle? Layer 2? Layer 3? Skype for Business itself… or the hardware on which it’s running? The only way to fix things is by using a solution that looks holistically at Skype for Business and its entire ecosystem. In short, you’re going to need a multivendor-capable performance management monitoring and optimization system.
The Monoculture Fallacy
Here's another perspective to consider: You could adopt a performance management system that only has a view of one layer (like Microsoft’s layer, for example) and live with the limitations outlined above. That’s not a good idea either.
Even before building this single-sourced solution you have to migrate from your existing solution. Often you will need to do to that over time, either due to the complexity, size of your organization, or to fully sweat the legacy assets. During that migration your Skype for Business solution will have to interoperate with your legacy environment, and even a short migration could run anywhere from 12 to 36 months. To conduct a migration effectively you are going to need to have a multivendor capable performance management monitoring and optimization solution.
The next challenge comes once you have migrated. Without a full multivendor-capable monitoring and performance management solution, you have effectively locked yourself off from a range of growth strategies. As an organization, you wouldn’t be able to deliver a rapid competitive response to any situation where you’d need alternative ways to communicate.
Among other things, you may well have hampered your ability to acquire or merge with other companies that use different technology. You’d also restrict yourself from being able to innovate quickly and flexibly. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by a multivendor landscape. But don’t trap yourself in a corner just because it seems safe.
In addition, while Skype for Business is being widely adopted as a UC system, most medium and large organizations are not using it for their contact centers. This situation automatically results in a multivendor environment.
Solve Problems with a Holistic Overview
Organizations today are struggling with the fact they have so many different systems in their environments. As a consequence, they need to use several different management tools. Each of those tools has its own complexity and none give a full overview of all the different layers of technology in a multivendor environment.
Those organizations are operationally inefficient and reactive. Don’t make the same mistake -- you need to instead become proactive by optimizing your system and becoming more agile in responding to change. That means being able to take a step back and get an overview of all that complexity. Look at all the elements of the ecosystem and optimize them as a unit rather than a collection of disparate systems.