The service provider role in UCC success

25 March 2014 | Ernest Cunningham

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Ernest Cunningham

Blog Author | One Source Networks; President and CEO


Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) is finally beginning to turn the corner, accelerating from hype to mainstream adoption.

Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) is finally beginning to turn the corner, accelerating from hype to mainstream adoption.

Indeed, as a 2013 report by Dimension Data outlined, “78% of IT decision-makers report that they have both a current strategic plan and a budget for at least some components of UCC.” But why is UCC gaining such traction now, in particular, and how can service providers be strategic partners in UCC implementation?

The drivers for UCC range from expected cost savings and a workforce that is growing more mobile and geographically dispersed, to the increasing reliance on video as a reliable, accepted form of business communication. Besides the quantifiable financial benefits, enterprises deploying UCC also enjoy more effective collaboration, productivity and efficiency.

When considering UCC deployment, enterprises have a wide range of models from which to choose, including on-premises (managed in-house or by a service provider), cloud or hybrid (a combination of on-premises and cloud-based deployments), each with their own unique benefits.

The on-premises, managed model has been the one most heavily favoured by enterprises in the past and one that shows strong growth in the future. However, research also indicates the foothold that Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is gaining in the market, with that market expected to grow to $7.62 billion by 2018 (rcrwireless.com, 2013). And there is always the option of a hybrid deployment option, which can be a stepping stone to a full cloud-based model.

From on-premises to hybrid to cloud, each model spells opportunity for today’s UCC service provider. But in order to capitalise on UCC growth and ensure that the deployment is successful, service providers need to take a holistic approach to ensure that their own network and the enterprise network are optimised to handle the demands of UCC, particularly when it comes to bandwidth-intensive applications such as video.

As a first step to successfully integrating UCC, the service provider and enterprise should evaluate enterprise network usage patterns historically, currently and after deployment, as they are likely to change.

Typical enterprise networks today are frequently highly fragmented, with users relying on MPLS for latency-sensitive applications and the internet for general connectivity requirements. The Wifi network is significantly taxed due to the sheer number and diversity of devices growing per user and the complexity of the type of services they are accessing, like video. The service provider should work with the enterprise to ensure that their network is best architected to meet the bandwidth demands of UCC and to support the increase in BYOD.

Choosing the right Session Border Controller (SBC) is also key to UCC success. The SBC should be highly scalable to meet growing user demands and have the ability to prioritise latency-sensitive applications, like voice. Another area to consider is whether the SBC is certified to support a specific UCC platform such as Microsoft Lync, which is used by the majority of large enterprises today. Finally, service providers can take advantage of capabilities that include Software Defined Networking (SDN) to prioritise key traffic and ensure QoS.