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Unified communications management before and after deployment

Organizations can minimize operational costs and maximize user satisfaction with proactive unified communications management and testing before and after deployment.

A successful UC rollout should test voice performance -- and video, if applicable -- before and after deployme...

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Pre-deployment unified communications management and testing can evaluate network delay to look for potential trouble spots and address them with hardware upgrades, network optimization or additional bandwidth. Pre-deployment testing can also assess interoperability between legacy equipment and new systems during transition, or if existing platforms will be maintained in some capacity going forward.

Systems integrators provide such testing services. For example, Empirix, a network performance monitor, offers testing tools and services for voice quality. And tekVizion offers certified interoperability testing to proactively identify and eliminate issues in multivendor environments.

For companies deploying cloud-based services to small offices and remote workers via the Internet, many vendors offer pre-deployment testing services, including Web-based tools to see if Internet connections can support a UC rollout.

Post-deployment unified communications management tools enable operations teams to identify potential issues before end users notice them and minimize repair times for problems that do occur. Examples of such tools include cloud and on-premises services from vendors like Integrated Research, Oracle, Nectar and Unify2.

Increasingly, these platforms are leveraging software-defined networking APIs from UC vendors like Microsoft and Cisco to reduce or eliminate the need for network probes while also increasing the granularity of the data available to the management platform.

A UC rollout is a widespread, team-based effort

Another way to reduce operational challenges is to adopt the principles of DevOps to manage the IP telephony and UC rollout. DevOps is a holistic way of organizing IT and follows the principles of lean manufacturing management. It uses a systems approach that allows for continuous feedback and adopts the concepts of Agile development to enable optimized use of available resources.

Amid their UC rollout, organizations should leverage pre-deployment testing, proactive ongoing management and DevOps methodologies in their project team.

Applying DevOps to UC means the team that's responsible for UC deployments includes not just architects, but also those responsible for operations, server and network resources and security. Teams typically include lines of business (LOB) that can help technical leaders focus on meeting immediate business needs as quickly as possible. LOB managers can also update end users on a project's progress and make sure the user community has a voice during the UC rollout.

Basically, the DevOps approach sets short-term, achievable goals that break large-scale projects into small, fast-to-deploy chunks.

Unified communications management, testing before rollout cuts costs, boosts user satisfaction

IT leaders continue to ignore unified communications management and testing, according to the 2016 Nemertes Research study on IP telephony and unified communications total cost of ownership. More than half (56%) of the nearly 300 organizations interviewed do not use a tool to manage voice quality. And yet, those enterprises that do use a management tool see lower total cost of operations.

For example, organizations using management tools saved, on average, $3 per endpoint in operational costs for on-premises IP telephony deployments. Meanwhile, organizations using cloud-based telephony services saved a more substantial $61 per endpoint.

But cost savings is not the only business case for proactive testing and management of IT platforms. Organizations could also achieve higher user satisfaction by avoiding problems before they occur.

Amid their UC rollout, organizations should leverage pre-deployment testing, proactive ongoing management and DevOps methodologies in their project team. By doing so, these organizations can minimize operational costs and ensure that end users have a reliable service that meets their needs.

Next Steps

The three UC issues to address before you deploy

Tips on integrating a UC suite with existing infrastructure

To attain UC success, be sure to train your employees

This was last published in May 2016

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