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What is a UC system integrator?

Industry leaders explain the role of a system integrator when an organization rolls out UC and how it differs from a service provider and VAR.

Enterprise unified communications (UC) needs go beyond simply deploying a new system or application through a vendor...

or service provider. For some enterprises, a system integrator can kick their UC strategy into high gear. But what makes a system integrator different from a service provider or value-added reseller (VAR)?

The role of system integrators and how they differ from service providers and VARs were discussed in the Enterprise Connect panel "Selecting a system integrator for UC."

Kevin Kramer, network and mobility consulting services leader for HP, defined a system integrator as an outside organization that can integrate different UC products and services when an enterprise may not have the necessary skills. A system integrator can bring together products to meet an enterprise-defined UC strategy.

"Ultimately, they should be creating that solution for you, which may be pretty complex in its parts, but hopefully the solution is simple on final execution," Kramer said.

Analyst Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research, said system integrators differ from service providers and VARs because they have expertise that goes beyond technical guidelines. He said this expertise includes how people use and consume UC and how organizations should license UC.

"They have a methodology to ensure that when they're doing a project, whether it's UC or an application rollout, it's a repeatable process," Kerravala said.

System integrators focus on helping organizations clarify their business objectives when deploying a new UC system or application, said Rick Qualman, vice president of enterprise networks and communications services at IBM.

"They can make sure you're getting the objectives you've set out to get accomplished in the time frame that you're looking for," he said.

They can also help organizations go beyond cost savings. Qualman said system integrators can offer guidance to IT leaders on how to reinvest any cost savings gained during a UC deployment.

"You start broadening what the opportunity is for not only cost savings, but productivity savings," he said.

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