5 Features to Look for When Differentiating UC Solutions

Unified communications is an increasingly important investment for organizations looking to improve productivity and responsiveness while reducing their IT costs. UC and it’s convergence of voice, video, and applications, is bringing benefits to enterprises and SMBs in every industry across the globe.

But if you’re undertaking a UC upgrade, it can be hard to know how to differentiate between all the many UC solutions that exist on the market today. Unified communications technology evolves so rapidly that it’s becoming more difficult for organizations to predict which requirements they might need now and in the future. What are the implications on your IT infrastructure?  Will the technology become obsolete too quickly?

In fact these fears are consistently on the list of the many reasons that organizations tend to sweat legacy investments for too long.

The key to differentiating the right UC solution is to search for and ultimately adopt a solution that’s built with/on:

  • Sufficient Flexibility – As office applications change, desktop and IT experiences evolve, and system requirements grow an enterprise-grade UC solution should offer multiple choices to adapt. The right UC solution will be flexible—with choices for both premises and self-managed deployments, subscription models with cloud services, or a hybrid with private cloud option—and accommodating  of  new requirements as your business needs evolve over time. Solutions that extend the value of your existing IT investments and promote end-user adoption should be high on the list of anyone looking for flexible, agile communications.  Core elements of a flexible solution should include: use of open, standards based protocol interfaces, Web Service orientation, the ability to add complimentary solution components including devices (IP phones, smart phones, etc.),productivity applications (plug-ins for email clients, or web portals), and even purpose built applications to automate certain business processes.
  • All Inclusive Licensing – All-inclusive licensing gives technology and financial decision makers the ability to anticipate user costs while ensuring that their end users have full access to the UC productivity apps and tools they desire. The inclusive structure makes purchasing UC easier by eliminating complexity associated with mapping licenses for specific apps or features to individual users or groups of users.
  • Variety of UC apps and services such as mobility – Often users throughout an enterprise adopt varying work styles which best suit their roles and responsibilities.  Offering a range of UC applications allows users the ability to choose the apps that best suit their particular needs and work styles.  These may include some, or all, of the following:  desktop UC apps for windows MAC users, browser based applications for cross platform use, mobile device apps for smartphones and tablets, plug-ins for other productivity tools like email and calendar apps or document management and related groupware systems.  Ideally, all of these various UC oriented applications will have uniform features delivered with a common look and feel to simplify transition from one to another.
  • Software-based solution – software-based UC and collaboration platforms operate across premises, cloud, or hybrid environments (flexibility). With a variety of software apps, operating across multiple devices (PCs, smartphones, and tablets), software-based UC systems fit naturally into an enterprise’s IT systems environment, leveraging common operating principles and practices.  This lowers overall operating costs, and maximizes the possibility for integration into an enterprise’s business processes maximizing the return on investment.
  • Vendor Maturity – vendor maturity is incredibly important when choosing a UC solution. There are multiple types of vendors in the marketplace today. There are those whose background is in network convergence. There are others whose background is strictly telephony. But for today’s modern communications—that work consistently in co-operation with other enterprise technologies—you need a vendor whose strengths are in both telephony and IT infrastructure. You need more than a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader—you need a challenger, an innovator, a customer-focused vendor building next-generation unified communications and collaboration experiences that reduce IT complexity and delivers superior reliability, scalability and robustness.

Enterprise Connect 2015

Each year at Enterprise Connect, a mock Request for Proposal (RFP) session is held. The mock RFP is a simulation of the requests that enterprises and government agencies put out when looking for a new unified communications solution.

The session, led by independent consultant David Stein, Principal at Stein Consulting Group, assesses the most common unified communications and collaboration that SMBs and enterprises alike typically differentiate between.  Each of the vendors that participate is required to answer questions related to their solutions’ architecture, features, and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over a 3-5 year period.

This year’s UC RFP and Review session will, again, look at premises vs. cloud-based communications platforms. The session is a long running tradition and the ideal way to provide potential customers an objective way to learn about the top vendors in the industry. The session includes discussion of:

  • Overall findings/trends as of Q1 2015
  • The system offerings currently available from leading suppliers
  • Strengths and weaknesses of leading vendors’ offerings
  • The subjective rankings based on architecture, functionality and cost
  • Product Differentiation (what really matters?)
  • UC Procurements (should enterprises focus on platform or use cases?) and more.

There are a number of factors to consider in evaluating Unified Communications RFPs—high availability, voicemail, unified messaging, and unified communications are just some of the features of modern communications technology.

If your organization is starting the process of looking for a new UC solution to replace your existing IP/PBX, I invite you to join me during the session and listen to how each vendor ranks.

For a comprehensive look at weighting, factors and TCO evaluations from 2015, download the UC RFP whitepaper by David Stein.

TechKnowledge: The Best of 2014

As we look back at 2014 to prepare for 2015, we thought it would be great to provide you with some of the best tips from our NEC Today series. So sit back, relax and prepare to be informed!

MOBILITY – COMMUNICATION

Creating a strong mobile platform provides flexibility for your workforce, but must remain secure in order to protect company assets. Take a look at these posts on the subject:

  1. Get the Best of All Worlds with In-Store Mobile
  2. How to Stay ‘Mobile’ during a severe Weather Event
  3. Healthcare Innovation for Improved Patient Experience
  4. Under the Sea…with Internet?

SDN

Software-defined networking supports business agility through architecture that is dynamic, manageable, and adaptable. Are your ready for some transformative technology?

  1. Is Your Company Seeking Business Agility? Uncovering the Business Value of SDN
  2. NEC Teams with Microsoft for flexible, open, standards-based SDN for the cloud

BIG DATA

A critical component and potential differentiator for businesses going forward, big data and analytics are showing up in every industry and business type, as you can see in the posts referenced below:

  1. Big Data to the Rescue!
  2. Armchair Quarterbacks Rejoice! Big Data is in the Game!

IERS

Our guest blogger, Matt Sarrel, provided us with many good posts on InfoFrame Elastic Relational Store, so if you are in need of information on high-performance databases building for high availability and flexible scalability, look no further! Here is a sampling:

  1. An Introduction to IERS and NoSQL/NewSQL
  2. An Interview with Atsushi Kitazawa of NEC Japan, the “Father” of IERS
  3. IERS is Built for Elasticity

We hope you enjoyed some of our best posts from 2014. We look forward to providing more compelling information in 2015, so check back regularly to see what’s going on with NECToday!

Power-Up Your Summertime Reading List

Recently the Irving (TX) Public Library reported a 35% increase in its summer reading program from a year ago. This is good news for kiddos wanting to keep their minds active over the summer break. So that you can also keep your mind active, and because we did not want you to feel left out, we’ve compiled our own summer list of powerful informational topics. You can read or listen to great content and bone up on all things innovative, technical and positive for the society! Check out our sessions:

Solutions for Society

Solutions that make things better for society as a whole. Think about how much safer we are by being able to identify bad guys quickly with our NeoFace® facial recognition solutions. Many innovations positively impact society, from big data to healthcare innovation. Check it out…

From NECToday

What Do Intel’s Youngest Intern and NEC Have in Common?

Joey Hudy is the youngest intern in Intel history. At 16 years old, he has achieved multiple accomplishments including a solar-powered computer submitted at a recent science fair. His personal credo – Don’t be bored, make something – is a commitment from NEC as well.

Biometrics Can Improve Customer Experiences

According to a report from research firm Frost & Sullivan, biometrics is just beginning to gain recognition as a viable solution for customer experience in the retail and hospitality industries.

The biometric market is expected to be worth $6.2 billion by the year 2019, primarily due to the continued adoption of the technology for applications beyond the law enforcement and government arenas. For example, the banking industry has found biometric facial recognition to be quite useful in ATMs.

Big Data to the Rescue

What do Lady Gaga, the FIFA World Cup committee, and major communication companies have in common? Big data! Check out these real-life use cases to learn how big data significantly impacts the lives of just about everyone.

Healthcare Innovation for Improved Patient Experience

The primary objective of any healthcare provider is to focus on the patient. Whether it’s a private practice or a large medical conglomeration, the healthcare system needs improved patient communication in order to ensure positive patient experiences.

From NECAM Soundcloud Channel

JPS Heath Network

JPS Health Network is the public healthcare system for Tarrant County and surrounding areas in Texas. Its flagship facility, JPS Hospital, is in Fort Worth and is the only Level-I Trauma Center in the county. The network also includes 42 primary and specialty clinics and health centers throughout the county to serve its population of approximately 2 million citizens. NEC helped JPS upgrade its communications platform to help staff and doctors deliver quality care to its patients.

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – Justice Network

The Pennsylvania Justice Network (JNET) is a collaborative effort of 16 state agencies to build a secure, integrated justice system that promotes information sharing through the use of its applications, services, architecture, outreach and training.

Case Study: Children’s Hospital of Orange County

Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2013-2014), CHOC is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients.

Software-Defined Everything

The “Internet of Everything” taken to the next logical step – software-defined so it’s proactive, interactive and positive for companies who want to save time, money and improve productivity. Learn more about next-gen systems…

From NECToday

Continuous Availability at an Affordable Cost for Today’s Business

For IT organizations with mission-critical data, as well as large retailers needing to maintain and access data quickly, the requirements for server uptime and processing are even more important. Trying to achieve five nines (99.999%) of uptime is feasible in a clustered data center environment, but often these organizations are better served through the implementation of a fault tolerant (FT) server.

An Introduction to IERS and NoSQL / New SQL

NEC Corporation of America recently announced the general availability in North America of the InfoFrame Elastic Relational Store, a high-performance database built for high availability and flexible scalability.  IERS is a key value store that provides high-speed transaction processing and SQL (structured query language) capabilities through a JDBC/ODBC interface.

An Interview with Atsushi Kitazawa of NEC Japan, the “Father” of IERS

Everything you wanted to know about IERS, from its position in the world of next-generation databases to its design goals, architecture, and prominent use cases.

From NECAM Soundcloud Channel

The Path to Five 9s of Availability for SQL Server

Get an overview of the different SQL Server high availability technologies from the lowest to the highest levels of availability.

Stay In the Know While On the Go

Mobility is only becoming more prevalent, so check out these great options to learn more about how to keep your mobile workforce productive, secure and well, mobile! Explore on the go…

From NECToday

Under the Sea…with Internet?

Can you imagine a world where ANYTHING is possible? Science fiction movies have depicted it: people living on the moon, on a planet, or under the sea. But now, are we coming closer to fantasy becoming a reality? Perhaps so!

How to Stay ‘Mobile’ During a Severe Weather Event

Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get into the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions, but it also means not losing employee productivity over the course of the weather event.

Get the Best of All Worlds with In-Store Mobile

In-store mobility is the most efficient and accurate way to create the type of retail experience a consumer expects. Plus, it supports associates in providing a rapid response to a shopper’s needs, ensuring that the sale goes to your retail establishment. To understand the power of in-store mobile, first let’s understand the current consumer shopping behavior.

From NECAM Soundcloud Channel

Case Study: Schenectady City School District

Schenectady City School District (SCSD) is located 12 miles from Albany, New York. The district offers hundreds of courses and programs to nearly 10,000 students throughout the city of Schenectady, and has more National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) than any other district in the state, with the exception of New York City.

It’s In the Cloud

Isn’t everything? Truth is that cloud solutions have significant practical applications for most businesses, if you understand how to apply them correctly. Do you need a hybrid, cloud or on-premises solution? Find out the answer to that question and more with these sessions:

From NECToday

Is Your Company Seeking Business Agility? Uncovering the Business Value of SDN

Hear first-hand SDN thought leaders from NEC, IBM and featured analyst firm Gartner Research talk about the business benefits of software-defined networking.

NEC Teams with Microsoft for Flexible, Open, Standards-based SDN for the Cloud

Mike Schutz, general manager of Microsoft Product Marketing for the Server and Tools Group, talks about the collaboration between these strategic partners and the benefits customers can expect in this new video.

Unified Communications: As-a-Service vs. On-Premises – What’s Best for You?

Simplifying communication and collaboration is the hallmark of UC and UCaaS. The good news is you don’t have to choose.

ONF Honors NEC as First Vendor to Certify for OpenFlow 1.0 Conformance

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a user-driven organization focused on the promotion and adoption of Software-defined Networking (SDN) through open standards development, has awarded NEC Corporation (NEC) with the first Certificate of Conformance offered through the ONF’s OpenFlow Conformance Testing Program. A Certificate of Conformance from ONF is the highest level of assurance available in the market today to confirm OpenFlow specification compliance.

NEC Collaborates with Microsoft to Transform the Data Center with Software-Defined Networking

Microsoft and NEC joint customers will command new levels of IT flexibility and automation with dynamic management and allocation of pooled network resources, as well as their compute and storage pools, all from a central point of control.

From NECAM Soundcloud Channel

Webinar: Real-Life SDN Use Cases

This webinar, Real-Life SDN Use Cases, features noted network experts Ivan Peplnjak of iosHints and NEC’s network architect Samrat Ganguly. They present real examples of OpenFlow-based SDN at work, and use the NEC ProgrammableFlow® Networking Suite as the market leading vehicle to achieve transformative results.

There is plenty of other great content at your fingertips. Simply check out any one of our content channels and enjoy your own personalized summer reading program!

www.NECToday.com
http://www.youtube.com/interactivenec
https://twitter.com/nec
http://www.facebook.com/NECAmerica
http://soundcloud.com/necam
https://www.linkedin.com/company/nec-corporation-of-america

Making the Move to Software Based Communications

Software-based voice and unified communications (UC) is one of the biggest trends in IT today. The ability for voice and PBX functions to be purely software-based, residing on off-the-shelf servers, has opened a new world of possibilities when it comes to virtualization, portability, business continuity and disaster recovery. It also benefits end users by providing a common user experience across multiple devices, ensuring the look and feel of the UC app on your PC is the same as your smartphone and tablet. This ease of use greatly enhances your organization’s mobility strategy by simplifying end user training and increasing adoption. It also complements the undeniable BYOD trend as end users can visit an app store to download a mobile version of their desk phone and UC app to their smartphone or table.

Whether it’s traditional PBX features such as voice, voicemail, unified messaging, presence, call recording, or a combination of them all, software-based communications gives you the management interface that combines the tools you need and makes it easy to manage and deploy. With software-based communications, you have a single application that makes upgrading and ongoing maintenance easy and seamless. With the portability to move in or outside of your network through on-premises, cloud, or hybrid deployment, you can feel secure with the complete business continuity that software-based communications offers.

If your biggest concern is finding the capital to fund this venture, the good news is there are financing options to consider to ensure you’re still able to reap the benefits without breaking your budget. Your best bet in leveraging financing is to shift your technology upgrades from your Capital budget to your Operating budget. This is where your technology financing partner plays a very important role. With budget concerns, a partner who offers varying lease options may work best. For example, taking advantage of a zero percent lease option will allow you to obtain the technology upgrades you need now at a rate that falls well below what you’re currently spending for maintenance now.

Watch the video below to see Drew Beckmann, from NEC Corporation of America, discuss how software-based communications can be deployed on-premises or as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). He addresses a number of additional benefits and discusses security concerns with this type of application.

Have you made the move to software-based communications? Tell us how in the comments below.