What does WebRTC do for the Enterprise?

nec-webrtc-unified-communications-enterprise-trendsWith the New Year nearly upon us, now is the time to scrutinize new technologies, business strategies, and capabilities. How will they fit your enterprise? Will they live up to the hype?

WebRTC is an emerging open source project that aims to enable the web with real-time communications capabilities—giving users the ability to conduct peer-to-peer voice and video communications directly through web browsers without needing a plugin.

WebRTC has set the Unified Communications industry to buzzing. But while early WebRTC apps seem promising, WebRTC has yet to see mainstream adoption by enterprises.

So, with WebRTC making the rounds on all of the “Top 10” IT lists (it even makes an appearance on our own), now is the best time to take a closer look and see where WebRTC hits the mark for enterprises, and where the misconceptions lie.

Separating Reality from Hype

There are many expectations and misconceptions as far as what enterprises can expect from WebRTC functionality. Slowed by standards battles around video codecs, the lack of end-user demand, the absence of browser support from Apple and Microsoft, and the high priority challenges facing the UC architects who are attempting to incorporate the standards into their solutions, WebRTC has so far failed to gain the support/demand needed to cross into the mainstream communications market.

In early 2014, Nemertes Research interviewed approximately 200 IT leaders responsible for unified communications strategy, architecture, and operations in end-user companies (not vendors or service providers). During the interviews, the IT experts were asked about their plans for WebRTC adoption. As it turns out, fewer than 7% of the respondents had definitive plans to deploy WebRTC over the next two years, while the vast majority had either no plans, or were still in the evaluation phase.

Here’s a breakdown of what the “early-still” applications of WebRTC will and won’t do:

WebRTC will (eventually):

  • Be most useful for public-facing organizations—Businesses with public-facing websites will likely see the most use out of WebRTC. The protocol allows SMBs and Enterprises to enhance their web properties with click-to-call capabilities—features that, up until recently, cost money to have. WebRTC gives public-facing organizations an opportunity to recoup that money—spent on 800-number services that enable browser-based calling, and/or multiple trunk lines. WebRTC will enable customers to talk immediately to the right person, keeping them from having to dial multiple numbers or sift through multiple menus with numerous extensions (hello customer service benefits).
  • Free users from extraneous plugins—the opportunity for plugin-less communications is on the horizon. WebRTC will allow enterprises to host internal and external meetings using only a web browser on any device. Once the open-source, pre-standardized protocol is available on all web browsers, the need to download extra plugins will disappear. WebRTC is currently enabled in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera. Microsoft recently announced future support, whereas Apple’s has yet to say anything at all. As long as there are hold-outs, the standard will still require plugins. The use of plugin-less WebRTC, however, could potentially spur further development, greater functionality, and greater cost savings as the standards gain popularity according to Irwin Lazar, VP and Service Director at Nemertes Research.

WebRTC applications won’t:

  • Communicate freely without the help of an Session Border Controller (SBC)—Despite what many people believe, WebRTC audio and video sessions are encrypted—something that cannot be said of the still popular landline telephone call. But, with enterprise firewalls in place, the web clients supporting these conferencing sessions will have to “negotiate” with each other to determine whether or not the level of encryption coming from the alternate party will be supported. Session border controller vendors will be key to helping peer-to-peer communications technologies work with enterprise firewalls.
  • Replace whole VoIP/video conferencing infrastructures—while software development around WebRTC applications is increasing, that does not mean that enterprises are or should be jumping to replace current video and audio meeting infrastructures for WebRTC counterparts. WebRTC is not yet mature enough to replace existing technology—and never will be without greater adoption and significantly more development. WebRTC can, however, fill certain gaps that current communications technologies leave open, said Nemertes’ Lazar. WebRTC gives many businesses—especially those with call centers—an opportunity to simplify customer engagement. There could be real possibilities for financial and healthcare organizations to apply WebRTC to: customer meetings, telemedicine, and when improving customer service.

Other Communications Alternatives

All of this to say that while WebRTC can benefit the enterprise, it hasn’t yet. For businesses looking for more immediate ways of streamlining and simplifying business communications, the still-immature WebRTC shouldn’t be too high on your list of solutions, but should be at the forefront of the trends you watch develop during 2015. Applications for the contact center such as ‘click-to-call’ for customer facing e-commerce or service websites may be the most successful initial commercial use of WebRTC and could be avialble through several UC vendors in 2015.

Consultants agree that more widespread enterprise adoption will become more likely if the WebRTC protocol can soon deliver on the promise of very little maintenance and support. Until then though, a Unified Communications and Collaboration Solution would be your best bet in terms of ease-of-use and high return on investment.

Want to learn more about this year’s Smartest IT Trends?


How Secure is the Cloud? Your Questions Answered

nec-cloud-security-unified-communications--as-a-service-ucaasCloud security is a hot discussion topic these days. Security is one of the main reasons that many business leaders have been slow to adapt to the cloud. Keeping data on premises makes business and IT leaders feel more secure.

But lately there seems to be a shift—the cloud tipping point has arrived, and more companies are moving to the cloud to replace various on-premises technologies and services.

The truth is that the cloud offers many of its own security advantages—many of which are the same as on-premises storage technologies. Before you assume that the cloud isn’t safe, it’s worth taking a look at what’s available to you and evaluating the risks associated with moving to the cloud—particularly when doing so could provide serious benefits.

According to Corey Louie, the Head of Trust, Safety, and Security at Dropbox, the best solutions will serve as an extension of the network and security infrastructure that you already have in place. When deployed properly, cloud solutions can help SMBs and Enterprises achieve more agility and can help with cost savings.

If we specifically look at one cloud service—let’s take Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), one of the fastest growing markets in communications, the cloud can enable companies to:

  • Offload equipment costs
  • Shift certain budgeting from a CAPEX to an OPEX model
  • Simplify management and cost tracking
  • Increase scalability
  • Increase IT speed and agility
  • Improve disaster recovery and business continuity

There are still those who hesitate when choosing the cloud, which is why it is important to understand what the security threats are, and how to approach security for a cloud-based technology or solution.

What are the risks?

In 2013, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) identified “The Notorious Nine,” the top nine cloud computing threats. The report reflects a consensus among industry experts surveyed by CSA, focusing on threats specifically related to the shared, on-demand nature of cloud computing.

These nine threats include:

  • Data Theft/Breaches
  • Data Loss
  • Account/Service Traffic Hijacking
  • Insecure Interfaces/APIs
  • Denial of Service
  • Malicious Insiders
  • Cloud Abuse
  • Insufficient Due Diligence

Physical theft, employee mistakes (like lost devices), and insider threats are responsible for 42.7% of 2013 data breaches in the United States, according to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. In another 29.6% of data breaches, hackers broke into data owned by companies and government agencies. Big tech companies, major retailers, and airlines were some among many 2013 victims.

Each year, Alert Logic, an IT services provider, publishes a semi-annual State of Cloud Security report, surveying their customers to understand from where security threats are coming.

The results are interesting:

  • An enterprise data center (EDC) is 4x more likely to suffer a malware/bot attack than a cloud hosting provider (CHP).
  • EDCs and CHPs are equally vulnerable to a “vulnerability scan” and a “brute force” hack.
  • EDCs are 3x times more likely to suffer a recon attack and 4x an app attack.

Cloud providers are 40% more likely to suffer a web app attack and 10% more prone to vulnerability scan weakness than an enterprise data center. In recons, malware, bot, and app attacks, the cloud seems to have less risk than most on-premises technologies.

According to Louie, the takeaway is not that cloud is better but that the risks are manageable. No one—regardless of their resources—is 100% secure.

What are the benefits?

Cloud-based technologies and services are not without their own security advantages. For many cloud service providers, there is a deep commitment to security—perhaps deeper than the media typically portrays. This commitment means a few, quite significant, things:

You get enterprise hardware for a small business price.

With cloud computing, your data is stored on enterprise-grade hardware, equipment that is typically unaffordable for most small and mid-sized businesses. By using the cloud for your business, you are upgrading to safer equipment.

You get more focused security.

For cloud vendors to succeed they need to focus on securing their service. This means that instead of attempting to prevent a variety of more general threats (as your in-house model would require) cloud vendors are free to (and great at) securing the one thing you want protected: your data online.

You get flexibility and agility.

Many IT organizations are stretched thin and struggle to balance day-to-day operations with strategic projects. One of the advantages of cloud services is the speed of deployment. Businesses have the flexibility to rollout cloud services without the IT time, and resource commitments typically associated with a legacy deployment model.

You get professional management.

Using the cloud to store data means that you get trained professionals managing your patch updates and keeping the server’s software up-to-date. Maintenance and support time are reduced since there is no longer a need to plan and implement system updates, and you can redeploy IT resources to more strategic initiatives to help advance the organization.

You get well-funded security.

Investing in top-level security features adds value to individual cloud service providers’ businesses. Investing in this way is a necessity for success. Businesses adopting cloud services gain the opportunity to put someone else’s financial resources to work, which can help take the sting out of security spending.

That deep commitment to security means that cloud service providers have to invest far more in scalable infrastructure and information security than do most organizations. Those investments are quite significant, and service providers will bear that burden for you. They can create economies of scale and efficiencies that benefit you.

Think about it like this: services like Dropbox go above and beyond to protect your data — so that you don’t have to invest heavily in secure systems and servers, constantly consider network and product security threats, submit to in-depth compliance reviews and audits, undergo regular testing against attacks, set up complex logical access controls, and assure data centers have advanced physical, environmental, and operational security measures.

The Cloud in Perspective: UCaaS

Hopefully, it’s clear why the cloud has some real advantages. Let’s take a quick look at UCaaS for a perspective on a unique cloud service.

The market for UCaaS is growing pretty rapidly. Among IT pros responding to a 2014 Spiceworks survey, 11% had adopted UCaaS. However, another 12% indicated they are planning to adopt it in the next year, more than doubling the number of people using UCaaS today.

This projected growth tracks consistently with the expectations of UCaaS market growth reported in 2013 by researchers at MarketsandMarkets. Their report on UCaaS projects that the global market will grow from $2.52 billion in 2013 to $7.62 billion by 2018, at an estimated CAGR of 24.8%.

Some suggest that developing confidence in hosted solutions in general is the impetus for the projected dramatic increase in adoption. Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research, has pointed out, “…more than 90% of companies now use software as a service (SaaS) applications.” Much of that confidence is due to the service providers’ dedication to security improvements.

Are you excited by the opportunities UCaaS presents to the communications market?

Security concerns shouldn’t hold you back from learning more. Check out the Reducing UC Costs and Increasing Business Performance whitepaper to take a deeper dive into the advantages of UCaaS, market drivers, concerns, and what to look for in a provider.


The Top Traits of Unified Communications Innovators

How to Benchmark and Rank Unified Communications (UC) Technology

nec-unified-communications-infrastructure-frost-sullivan-leadership-awardIt should come as no surprise to anyone that companies are still struggling to understand how to make the right technology decisions. Too often, businesses make important growth decisions based on a narrow understanding of their IT environment—which can have a negative impact down the line as the environment continues to change.

To avoid error when choosing new technologies, businesses need successful growth strategies that make use of innovative technologies. In order to determine what your business’s growth strategy should encompass, you need a thorough understanding of your market. By assessing the technical innovations within your market, your industry’s key challenges, your customers, and the best practices that have led to your own past successes, your business can preemptively ward off future regret by making the right technology choice the first time.

Key Industry Challenges

The businesses that are most equipped to meet the challenges of modern communications are already employing UC technology and infrastructure. They specifically leverage these new technologies to enhance the quality of communications for employees and customers, while also utilizing innovative UC technology and infrastructure as a means to optimize network traffic as network demand changes.

The following are two of the most common enterprise communications challenges that are addressed by UC technological innovation, and the most popular traits that innovative UC leaders have to answer those stresses:

• IT Infrastructure Stress—the transformation to modern unified communications platforms has seen enterprise communications become more reliant on IT infrastructure—particularly application and media servers, data center and campus IP networks, wide area networks, media gateways and session border controllers.

• Bandwidth Sensitivity—in converged voice, video, and data environments, bandwidth-sensitive IP telephony solutions are now sharing resources with other enterprise applications, with real time applications media traffic granted priority access through configurations set by network administrators. While Server and desktop virtualization has allowed UC to become increasingly dynamic in terms of on-demand capacity, the underlying infrastructure that carries voice and video traffic has largely remained static and unadaptable to utilization spikes.

Trait 1: Innovation-driven leaders are beginning to take a more holistic view of UC infrastructure.

Rather than treating the UC platform, data centers, and enterprise networks as discrete components, innovators are applying emerging standards within their own solutions to deliver a new level of intelligence and self-awareness to UC infrastructure. This ultimately allows UC systems to identify sources of trouble, and then adjust themselves to accommodate spikes in traffic or demand.

Trait 2: Innovative leaders enable UC and enterprise infrastructure solutions to thrive together rather than coexist.

Rather than having a static UC platform running alongside static infrastructure solutions, innovators are building intelligence and feedback loops between UC platforms and the enterprise network that empowers them. This allows the UC solution to preemptively prepare the infrastructure for planned events that will potentially stress it. Also, with the many existing manual configuration processes automated, the enterprise infrastructure is able to become as dynamic as the solutions it serves.

Key Benchmarking Criteria for Innovative UC Technology

Each year, Frost & Sullivan determines how best-in-class companies worldwide manage growth, innovation, and leadership. Based on the findings of their best practices research, they present an annual Global Technology Innovation Leadership Award in Unified Communications.

If you’re wondering how to differentiate between UC innovators, Frost & Sullivan has created criteria for benchmarking leading unified communications solutions.

1. Uniqueness of Technology
2. Impact on New Products/Applications
3. Impact on Functionality
4. Impact on Customer Value
5. Relevance of Innovation to Industry

Best Practice Award Analysis for NEC

NEC has been an early proponent, adopter, and provider of many new networking technologies. Frost & Sullivan analyzed NEC’s UNIVERGE 3C and UCaaS Solutions for technological innovation. Part of their findings include:

Impact on New Products/Applications

NEC’s UNIVERGE portfolio of solutions are built on key pillars of NEC’s IT Empowered Framework and Smart Enterprise programs, the foundation of which is utilizing adaptable network infrastructures. NEC’s UC products are therefore fully-distributed and data center-ready, virtualized UC solutions. In contrast, traditional network architectures require a near duplication of hardware and costs to achieve similar levels of business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities.

Impact on Customer Value

NEC’s innovation in delivering a high-level of integration between enterprise communication applications and the underlying infrastructure ultimately drives customer value through automation and optimizations. Integration with Software-Defined Networks (SDN) enables real-time communications between the UC platform and the network. NEC’s UNIVERGE 3C platform programmatically adjusts the infrastructure to work around trouble or allocate additional network resources to cope with spikes in demand without administrator interaction.

Global Technology Innovation Leadership Award

According to the 2014 Global Technology Innovation Leadership Award Report, NEC’s holistic approach to deploying enterprise communications solutions, and the level of automation and dynamic flexibility inherent in NEC UC infrastructures should appeal to customers and serve as a roadmap for the direction of communication networks.

But don’t just take our word for it.

Learn more about the criteria used by Frost & Sullivan in awarding the 2014 Global Technology Innovation Leadership Award in Unified Communications Infrastructure


NEC Ranks Highest in Customer Service, Trust, and Technology

nemertes-pilothouse-nec-ip-telephonyOur unified communications (UC) customers have always said that NEC provides highly reliable communications solutions designed to support their unique businesses, and industry analysts have also agreed.

Recently, Nemertes Research surveyed 500 IT decision-makers to determine how they rate their technology vendors. The survey asked 20 key questions that were designed to help determine which IP telephony vendor has the best customer service, and what that service actually means when put into context.
The survey results show that NEC ranks the highest among vendors in the following categories:

Trusted Advisor

IT decision-makers know that vendor credibility is as important when making a purchasing decision as the architecture of the solution purchased.

A trusted telephony vendor should be able to stand behind its solution. It should commit to providing consistent product software updates and maintain a track record of evolving customer technology. A trusted telephony vendor doesn’t do forklift upgrades, preferring instead to provide value, measurement and consistency. And, most importantly, a trusted telephony vendor should always make a commitment to businesses of all sizes—small, medium, and enterprise alike.

To better understand how IP telephony providers measure up in this area, Nemertes built “Trusted Advisor” questions into its survey. These questions help numerically determine each vendor’s:

• technology expertise
• credibility
• innovativeness
• character
• timeliness in response to customer needs

NEC ranks highly in all of these sub-categories, but two of our greatest strengths have always been our expertise and credibility. As one of the original telephony vendors, we not only understand, but have also helped define both the industry and its technologies.

We bring our expertise and credibility to the market in multiple ways. One way is through innovative products. The second, according to the report, is through our value-added resellers or dealers. NEC customers have determined that we are the most capable at passing our knowledge to our dealers—who serve as an equally knowledgeable and capable extension of NEC.


In today’s environment it’s extremely important to choose the right UC solution. IT organizations are under pressure to select multiple business solutions that provide the best technology available and that deliver the best value possible—and communications technology is no exception.
The technology portion of the Nemertes report shows how each vendor’s products rank in the following sub-categories:

• reliability
• interoperability
• management capabilities
• technology roadmap

NEC consistently ranks highly among communications vendors as providing reliable, interoperable and innovative communications and IT solutions. In fact, our highest scoring metric was product reliability, meaning that in the eyes of our customers we not only provide innovative products, but also deliver reliable and dependable products that provide a continuous path forward.

Customer Service

According to Nemertes, NEC unequivocally ranked highest in the Customer Service category. The survey assessed the customer’s needs in the following categories:

• pre-sales responsiveness
• post-sales responsiveness
• break-fix responsiveness
• accuracy and timeliness in delivering invoices

From the results Nemertes determined that no other vendor is currently providing the same quality of response to its customers as well as NEC.

NEC is proud to rank highest in this category, and we continue to make customer service of the utmost importance to our business. We have award-winning products. When our technology is factored with our credibility, expertise and the quality of our customer service, it’s easy to see why the report shows that NEC has the highest percentage of organizations who wish to stay our customers of all the vendors polled.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Download the Nemertes Report now.


Is Your Business at Risk Running an Outdated PBX

nec-risk-of-outdated-pbx-benefits-of-ucYou know your PBX is way past its prime, and economic pressures have lead you to delay its upgrade or replacement.

But there comes a point in time when continuing to sweat your communications  assets no longer makes sense—from both a financial perspective and a business/productivity perspective. Retaining outdated equipment can essentially increase your IT costs and prevent your users from utilizing communications tools that help your business processes.

Phone systems are one of the assets that many companies sweat for too long, and, as a result, many of these organizations are sitting on archaic (or end-of-life) equipment that is no longer efficiently supporting their business while possibly putting it a risk.

Yet for some, the prevailing practice is to continue operating the existing system well past its useful life and beyond the end-of-support.

We often hear the following reasons to avoid upgrading:

  • We don’t have the budget, or there is a higher priority budgetary request.
  • The lifespan on the last PBX was too short.
  • We’re afraid that if we upgrade tomorrow, something better will come out next week (a.k.a. the cycle of obsolescence).
  • We’re unclear on our unified communications plans and how our phone system should fit in with UC.
  • Newer phone systems are becoming too complex to use.
  • The buying cycle is too long, and we will have to get too many people involved who will all have different opinions.
  • We don’t know which approach to take—i.e. premises, hybrid, or cloud-based.

There’s a chance that the phones you think are supporting your business aren’t. While the value of your older technology may not have appeared to change—for example, the phones still work, and you can still make calls—the outdated system may be hurting your business.

We know the decision to move to a new telephony system is sometimes a difficult one to make. That’s why we’ve created the following list of 3 of the benefits of a modern unified communications system over an outdated phone system.

1. System Stabilization

If you are a business owner or decision maker, you have probably thought, “We save money keeping the old system. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Every day your business uses an analog, TDM, or older VoIP phone system that has reached end-of-life, you run the risk of having your phone system fail without access to support. If that happens, revenue will likely be lost as a result. How much? Well, you could lose what equates to hours, days, or even weeks of revenue—depending on the amount of time it takes to quickly repair or worst case find and install a new system.

And hurrying to find a new system isn’t ideal. If your system fails, it could mean you are forced to make a quick replacement decision. Companies that don’t have the time or don’t take the time to research properly before purchase usually discover they’ve spent too much money or are unhappy with their purchase after it is too late to change it. Taking the time to find the right IP Telephony solution or Unified Communications solution will improve your business processes and efficiencies without over-extending your budget.

2. Improved Operational Costs

Maintaining separate systems like directories, conferencing software, voicemail, and telephony is expensive and time consuming for IT departments to sustain. In fact, it can be so time consuming that the IT department spends the majority of their day keeping these systems functional—time that can be better spent on more strategic IT projects.

The older the system, the higher the operational cost is when you don’t upgrade. Some of the costs businesses accrue using older systems include:

  • Proprietary hardware at each location (equipment, phones, PBX)
  • Installation
  • Licensing
  • Maintenance, repairs and upgrades
  • Additional services
    • Fax
    • Business SMS
    • HD video meetings
    • Audio conferencing

When you factor the lost IT time spent maintaining each separate communications system  with the opportunity cost of not having the advanced applications and features that modern unified communications provides, you end up with a total cost that is just too high for most businesses to ignore.

3. Competitive Advantage

Have you stopped to think about whether your competitors are taking advantage of modern communications software? If they are and you’re not, then chances are they are able to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently. Working smarter gives them an edge by increasing their productivity and creating a competitive advantage.

Your competitors that are working with updated communications systems, most likely have these advanced features at their disposal:

  • Audio/video/web collaboration, white boarding and document sharing
  • Support for the mobile workforce with a consistent user experience across smartphones and tablets
  • UC clients that provide status, presence, call history
  • Integrated vertical applications through standards and open services


While the cost of upgrading may seem high, the advanced applications and features associated with modern communications systems will help re-gain lost competitive edge and offer companies an opportunity to better serve their customers.

Unified communications can help businesses regain competitive advantage in two ways.

First, a new system can help you increase your revenue by providing your business with the communications applications needed to be more productive and efficient. You could gain better advantages and increased competitive edge by choosing a modern solution with a lower total cost of ownership and features that enable collaboration across your business, improving the speed of your communications.

Secondly, UC provides communications software that makes enterprise-level communications applications available on an ad-hoc basis. This either gives you access to applications that you might not have previously been able to budget for, or, saves your organization money as you no longer have to pay the fees required to utilize multiple services. Replacing hosted web, audio or video conferencing services is a perfect example. The accrued savings can boost the return on your unified communications investment, and expand your competitive edge through re-investment into other IT projects that help your business grow.

Increased Productivity

If you fear that your new technology will become obsolescent and use that as an excuse to avoid upgrading, you shouldn’t.  Look for vendors that offer software assurances and extended warranties for hardware that will provide your business with more security and less risk in the long run.

With a modern communications solution, you ensure that your system has the flexibility to handle rapid growth, giving you the ability to provide support to your increasingly mobile and distributed workforce. Your IT team will re-gain some of their time, allowing them to focus on other strategic IT initiatives. And, your employees will re-coup benefits that improve the speed of communication from access to applications that positively impact your daily business—whether it’s through more efficient collaboration with colleagues, or improving customer response times.

Options Available to Your Business

Ultimately there is a high cost, in terms of inefficiencies and operational cost, when you continue to operate an outdated or end-of-life phone system.

Some organizations struggle with selecting the best model (premises, hybrid, or cloud-based) to meet long-term communication needs. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the advantages of each option. Ultimately you’ll look for the platform and vendor that has the flexibility to customize the right solution to meet your specific needs.