Understanding unified communications components

You must first understand unified communications components before selecting a UC product, service or determining an organization's needs.

In order to understand your unified communication needs, you must first have the proper understanding of what unified communications is. This first part of our tip series identifies all of the preliminary and evolving unified communications components.

What is unified communications (UC)?

Many IT vendors are renaming their platforms and products to incorporate unified communications, but what is UC exactly? The definition of unified communications changes slightly, depending on the vendor you are looking at, but its foundation remains the same. By breaking unified communications into components, it makes it a lot easier to analyze and put things into the correct perspective.

Foundational unified communications components

These are in essence the main-core services a unified communications product should offer:

  • Network infrastructure. Almost all unified communications services require a rock-solid network infrastructure. Without this foundation component, we are unable to use all the features an advanced unified communications solution can offer.
  • IP telephony. Also known as Voice over IP (VoIP). This is a critical part of UC.
  • Presence. Being able to monitor the availability and state of another user. Check if the user's phone line is occupied or is in a conference, or if the user is away from his desk/office.

Table of contents

Part 1: Identifying unified communication components

Part 2: Unified communications solution business considerations

Part 3: Avoid upselling of your unified communication solutions

Basics unified communications components

These are your everyday applications and services helping to unify your communication needs:

  • Email. The ability to send messages and attachments between colleagues and customers.
  • Messaging. Includes faxing, instant messaging services and voicemail.
  • Conferencing. Includes audio conferencing and Web conferencing services that tightly integrate with the UC infrastructure.

Emerging unified communications components

These unified communication components are pretty much the most popular ones around today and include:

  • Mobility. Perhaps one of unified communication's greatest driving forces. This component gives mobile workers corporate communication, no matter where they are located.
  • Social media. Many companies are using social media to reach out to millions of consumers at a fraction of the traditional marketing cost.
  • Video conferencing. Mainly used by companies to reduce their travel expenses and organize meetings.

Continue reading this tip to understand your unified communications needs.

This was first published in December 2012

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