As I explained in the Part I post of this series - Unified Communications and Collaboration Solutions - one of the questions I am asked continually when discussing collaboration solutions within various industries is "where does all this fit with Unified Communications?". While I typically don't get technical in this blog, it is worth explaining the pairing between Collaboration and Unified Communications since both are joined at the hip and currently getting a lot of attention in the market. It's a big topic to cover so I'm covering it as Part I and Part II posts, with Part I posted Wednesday, April 28 and Part II posted here today.
PART II: THE BUSINESS VALUE OF UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS
In my Part I post I left off with a summary of possible building blocks in a UC multivendor ecosystem - Microsoft OCS, Avaya call manager, Juniper network infrastructure, HP servers, IBM Sametime, etc. Most of these UC technologies work seamlessly in the background and are not directly visible or experienced by the user. The true business value of Unified Communications can only be achieved if the workforce has the proper set of every day communication solutions which provide for an effective human interface and a rich user experience. In other words, the physical end point devices (desktop VoIP phones, conference phones, video conferencing codecs and monitors, telepresence rooms, etc.) HAVE to be solid, robust, and easy to use. The conferencing and bridging platforms for managing multipoint calls also need to integrate with the UC infrastructure.
Collaboration Solutions Architecture
Consider the reference architecture diagram to the left. Management and conferencing platforms in the "collabor-ation core" interface directly with the UC ecosystem for fully interoperable call control. This would be complemented by a complete portfolio of High Definition (HD) voice, video, and telepresence end points to provide an easy to use, open standards, and best-in-class user experience throughout the enterprise, regardless of location.
Corporate HQ, regional offices, teleworkers, partners/customers, and even legacy networks in the field should all be considered. The key to implementing the best collaboration user experience is selecting a good partners for your implementation - those with open standards and interoperability, with a strong market portfolio of end point devices. This will allow for fully integrated 'click-to-call' capabilities from any UC directory or contact list by users across the enterprise. Such a collaboration solutions implementation will allow for any organization to span the user touch points, anywhere, any time, from the desktop to the board room.
UC Partnerships Are Key
In the UC space, flexibility and interoperability is king. Vendor selection should be based on each organizations willingness to align leading UC players around an open standard approach to solution development and deployment through partnerships and interoperability. Such partnerships ensure UC vendors innovate and deliver solutions based on customer needs.
To summarize, select a partner on the path to Unified Communications that fully enables a mixed UC environment with collaboration solutions and endpoints for the best possible user experience and interface:
1. Easy to implement in every industry and working environment.
2. All of the desired attributes of best-in-class solutions to empower your organization.
3. Robust product portfolio to provide a rich user experience from the desktop to the board room.
4. Investment protection of your current IT assets through interoperability and deployment support on YOUR timetable.5. Delivers business value with a fast return on investment