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UC: Fields Are White to Harvest

OK, it's Spring in the northern hemisphere next week, so why an article about harvests? Well, that's because you don't have to wait until Fall this year to reap the good fruits of your investments. Or, just imagine you're in Australia.

A huge number of businesses are already licensed for Unified Communications, but are not taking advantage of this hidden treasure. At Enterprise Connect Orlando 2011, we held a session called, "Unified Communications Options: Who's Offering What?" in which we reviewed the responses from twelve (12) leading vendors for a standard configuration of Unified Communications capability. This was in four categories--IM/Presence, Conferencing, Mobility, and CEBP (Communication Enabled Business Processes). This specifically excluded IP Telephony (VoIP)--that was a different "RFP" session.

The vendors included their pricing for the configurations, as well, showing very economical prices, ranging from $11 to $83 per user per year for the UC functionality; the average price was $38 per user per year. All of the prices were for a 2,000-user enterprise and included software licenses, required hardware, and maintenance for three years.

But, here's the surprise! Essentially all the licensing was bundled by the vendors in such a way that if you have a current IP PBX system in your company or if you have an enterprise software license from Microsoft, IBM or RIM, it is pretty much a sure thing that you already have licenses UC for your firm! Yes, that’s right, you don't have to "go to the well" to start up on UC. Just provision from one to three virtual machines and get going. Since most IT shops have both capacity and permission to open up another VM, you’re good to go with UC.

Here are two examples, one in each category:

* You have an Enterprise CAL (client access license) Suite with Microsoft. That Suite includes both the Standard CAL and the Conferencing CAL for Microsoft Lync 2010 (see the "Note:" at the bottom of this table) so all the users are already licensed for Lync 2010 through the Enterprise CAL Suite agreement. This means you have access to Instant Messaging and Group Chat; Presence and Rich Presence; federation with other Lync customers and many of the public IM providers; peer-to-peer click-to-communicate via voice, web/desk sharing, and video; and both ad-hoc and scheduled conferencing for voice, web/desk/application sharing, and video. All the APIs and toolkits necessary for CEBP are also included in the licenses and server software platforms. This is essentially everything except enterprise voice, which is another $107 per user for the Plus CAL. Similar licensing models are used by IBM and RIM.

* You have a current version of Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) which you purchased via Cisco Unified Workspace Licensing (CUWL, pronounced "cool", of course). If you purchased either the Standard Edition or the Professional Edition of CUWL, you have a good portfolio of UC functions. Standard Edition includes Instant Messaging; Presence; Unified Messaging; base Mobility (call coverage); and soft clients for all of the above, including voice, video, web sharing and integration with Cisco WebEx. The Professional Edition is all of the above plus audio, video and web conferencing, as well as advanced Mobility via a software client on most smart phones. Some APIs for CEBP are included in the CUWL license, but additional licensing may be required for the Cisco Unified Application Environment. Similar licensing models exist with most of the IP PBX providers who were on the UC Options panel including Aastra, Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Interactive Intelligence, Mitel, NEC, ShoreTel and Siemens.

So, what are you waiting for? Whether you are in IT management or are a Systems Integrator, now’s the time to get started with UC requirements meetings with the enterprise operating departments. Use a smart selection from the hundreds of case studies to start the conversation and to determine which UC applications are crucial for your enterprise to stay competitive, and which are opportunities to leap ahead in your category by better serving customers, by cutting costs, or by accelerating your processes. So, it may be Springtime in the north, but it's harvest time all over the world.

What do you think? Let us know by posting below or writing to [email protected].