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UC Interoperability: Bringing Order Out of Chaos

Most organizations today are not on a single, unified communications platform. They're on disparate platforms from any number of UC vendors -- Cisco, Avaya, Genesys, Microsoft, and others.

How do organizations arrive at this state of complexity? It can occur all sorts of ways. For example, let's say your corporation grows through mergers and acquisitions and each company it acquires runs a different UC system. Happens all the time.

Or you might open new international locations and branch offices that don't all adhere to the same IT policy. Suddenly you have a heterogeneous, multivendor environment. You might have Cisco or Genesys in the contact center and Microsoft in other parts of your organization.

These products may be used together for interoperability or provided as standalone solutions. Whatever the case, users want solutions that make is easier and more convenient to work how and where they want. And, just like with BYOD, the enterprise will need to adapt.

This means the need for UC integration and interoperability will remain and even grow. Importantly, because most organizations are on disparate platforms from any number of different UC vendors, they will need a holistic solution that can help them seamlessly monitor, manage, and optimize their multivendor UC environment from the application down to the network layer devices.

Here are three tips for effectively managing a multivendor UC environment and the user experience across platforms and vendors.

  1. Look for a performance management solution that's compatible with most UC systems. A good performance management tool will enable you to see across all of your various UC technologies and make sure everything is working as expected and users are having a good experience. This is vital because your various UC platforms aren't able to see each other.

    For instance, when employees make calls to each other, how do you troubleshoot calls that cross platforms? Between Microsoft and Cisco or Avaya for example? Having an end-to-end view of the conversation for a cross-vendor call saves a great deal of time and headaches by quickly finding the root cause of the problem and isolating where the responsibility lies.

    What's more, having multiple monitoring solutions for multiple systems is expensive and labor intensive. You want a single solution that cuts across all vendors. Additionally, you must ensure that any provider you consider is certified on the current versions of all major UC platforms and that the provider keeps its certifications up to date.

  2. Gain deep visibility into your UC systems. Make sure your UC environment not only interoperates with all the other platforms but also across the entire technology stack. For this, you need a monitoring tool that can provide visibility into the entire technology ecosystem, including applications, operating systems, hardware/servers, user devices, network infrastructure, and session border controllers.

    For instance, let's say you want visibility into the performance of your Skype for Business application. To really get the full picture, you need to know what is happening on the desktop, across your network, and on the server that's running the UC application. That way, when a problem does arise, you'll be able to trace it to its exact origin quickly and with just a few clicks. You'll know that the fan is running hot on a particular user's machine. Or that the user is downloading "Game of Thrones" while simultaneously trying to videoconference and participate in an online meeting. These are the sorts of variables that can negatively impact the user's experience. But with proper performance management, you'll know exactly where the problems are and how to resolve them.

  3. Connect with customers. Most UC platforms work pretty well if they're operating in a single-vendor environment. But at some point you'll need to communicate with people outside your organization -- specifically, with your customers. That means your monitoring tools should offer coverage of not only those UC systems that touch internal employees but also those that you use to communicate with your customers. This is crucial because most UC providers offer one system for the corporate communications environment and a completely separate system for customer engagement. You need a performance-management solution that bridges the gap in a single solution.

In our digital era, companies need a UC environment that can interoperate horizontally across different vendors and platforms, and vertically up and down the technology stack. They need the ability to interoperate between their internal communication systems intended for employees and their external communication systems intended for customers. To thrive in this new digital age, you need a single end-to-end monitoring and performance management solution that truly can do it all.