Author: Paul Desmond

In a recent post we looked at the priorities companies need to keep in mind when migrating to a cloud-based unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) solution. In keeping with the UCaaS theme, this time we’re going to look at some of they key questions to consider when vetting potential UCaaS providers. To ensure the services you get from a UCaaS provider will be highly reliable, available and useful, you need to delve into how the provider is actually delivering its services. To determine what sorts of questions a potential customer may want to ask, I talked with Ryan Tadeo, Director of Sales Engineering…

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As contact centers adopt more channels through which to communicate with customers and prospects, they would do well to reconsider how they measure the effectiveness of those channels in meeting corporate goals. In too many cases, companies are routinely using ineffective metrics while more effective ones are only starting to take hold. What’s more, companies aren’t necessarily employing consistent measurements across all contact center channels, giving an incomplete or inaccurate picture of how effective their contact centers really are. These are a couple of the upshots of a report from the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), “Understanding Modern Contact Center Metrics.”…

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Security professionals for years have professed the importance of a multi-layer security strategy, also known as “defense in depth.” It only makes sense, then, that the concept should be applied to real-time communications (RTC) of the sort that are common in unified communications environments. That was my first thought when I saw an advertisement for a recent LightReading webinar called “Multi-layer Security for Real-time Communications.” Sponsored by Sonus and featuring Walter Kenrich, Sonus’ Director of Product management, the webinar makes the case that securing RTC environments is best accomplished by using a multi-layer strategy that includes firewalls, session border controllers and software defined network…

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The New York Times recently published an article that told frightening tales of companies falling victim to hackers engaged in telephone toll fraud, and getting stuck with huge phone bills as a result. Here’s how the story begins: Bob Foreman’s architecture firm ran up a $166,000 phone bill in a single weekend last March. But neither Mr. Foreman nor anyone else at his seven-person company was in the office at the time.“I thought: ‘This is crazy. It must be a mistake,’ ” Mr. Foreman said.It wasn’t. Hackers had broken into the phone network of the company, Foreman Seeley Fountain Architecture, and routed $166,000 worth…

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As contact centers continue to adopt IP-based communications of various sorts, including voice and other unified communications applications, it opens up organizations to a host of security threats that need to be addressed. To a would-be intruder, an IP-based contact center represents opportunity – a whole slew of IP-based ports through which they may gain entry to the network. Firewalls won’t do the trick in a contact center because they can’t adequately deal with real-time communications sessions (a topic we’ve covered previously). A session border controller (SBC), on the other hand, helps to secure contact centers in a number of…

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You move into a new office space and implement a swank new unified communications suite, with all the bells and whistles. All of your users get headsets that are intended to give them plenty of freedom to move about and maintain a quality audio experience – both essential to acceptance of UC applications. But things don’t go as planned. Users are complaining about static on the line and dropped calls, even when they’re not straying far from their base. If the situation isn’t fixed fast, it could torpedo the entire UC rollout. What this situation may well represent is a…

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The unified communications market is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, fueled in no small part by cloud-based UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) offerings which are finding favor among organizations of all sizes, but especially smaller ones. These are some of the findings from a pair of UC market reports, from BroadSoft and PWC UK. BroadSoft Sees UCaaS Growth Across All Sectors First up, BroadSoft. The company provides a platform that service providers use to offer UCaaS offerings to end customers. At its annual user conference last fall, it queried “129 global service provider and industry leader respondents” who were in attendance. Keeping in mind that attendees…

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As more and more customers seek to take advantage of cloud-based services for functions including real-time voice, video and unified communications, service providers are making moves to change the way they deliver those services by migrating their own networks to more virtual formats. The move makes sense and brings benefits for all concerned. Customers no longer need to have as much equipment on their premises, shifting it instead to the service provider’s cloud. That’s a benefit to both the customer and the service provider, which no longer has the expense of shipping equipment to the customer. But that’s just the beginning for…

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In a recent post we discussed how to decide whether you need a session border controller and the various deployment options if you determine you do need one. Two of the deployment options involve outsourcing the SBC function and, as promised, in this post we’ll look at the various options, rationales and benefits of going that route. First, let’s take another look at the two main options for outsourcing an SBC: Have a third party reseller or service provider install and manage an SBC appliance or, more likely, a virtual SBC on your premise.Buy an SBC-as-a-service (SBCaaS) offering from a service provider. Benefits…

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We’ve written a fair amount on this site about session border controllers (SBCs) and the various functions they perform relative to real-time, IP-based communications. But we haven’t really tackled head-on the topic of how to know when you need an SBC and, once you determine you do, how to decide on the best deployment option. How to Determine Whether You Need an SBC Deciding whether you need an SBC is a pretty straightforward proposition. As you migrate real-time applications such as voice, video and instant messaging to IP-based services, chances are you’re going to need an SBC. That is, you…

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With Microsoft getting deeper into telephony with the Cloud PBX feature of its Office 365 offering, customers need to assess how the new features fit into their IT and unified communications plans. In so doing, they need to essentially conduct an audit of the various use cases their employees have for tools such as Skype for Business and let that drive how they take advantage of cloud telephony offerings – or not. This advice comes from Tom Arbuthnot, Principal Solutions Architect with Modality Systems, a UC consulting firm that specializes in Skype for Business. Arbuthnot is a Microsoft Certified Master and MVP in…

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The other day I came across Gartner’s annual list of top 10 strategic technology trends for the coming year. It’s typical for the list to be a bit ahead of the curve, but this year’s list was particularly out there. So it prompted me to ponder what a more down-to-earth list might look like with respect to the unified communications space that theUCbuyer.com covers. Gartner: Lots of Mesh, Autonomy, Post-this, Post-that First, a look at the Gartner list, which you can find here in its entirety. We’ve got a couple of “mesh” related items, beginning with “the device mesh,” which Gartner…

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As WebRTC gains favor (and it is, as this infographic makes clear), it only stands to reason that companies will want to use it to communicate with applications hosted on public cloud platforms such as Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS). On the face of it, that may sound simple to do. You’ve got a Web browser that supports WebRTC so you should be able to use it to communications-enable a cloud-based application – maybe a video link to your cloud-based call center application, for example. For the user on the remote end of the connection, it is indeed about that…

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Microsoft this month will make available globally its Office 365 E5 plan, which includes the Cloud PBX feature Microsoft unveiled back in July. As I wrote at the time, this puts Microsoft in the telephony provider business in a significant way. It’s one of those inflection points that gets people thinking about their telephony infrastructure and how it fits with the rest of their IT and unified communications environment – or at least, it should get them thinking. Like other Office 365 plans, the E5 suite includes Skype for Business and all the unified communications features that entails, including presence, instant…

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Companies that have implemented unified communications solutions likely inherently believe they are getting benefits from it, including improved employee communications, productivity and perhaps customer satisfaction. But they are struggling to prove it. That’s the upshot of the recent Nemertes Research “2015-16 Unified Communications and Collaboration Benchmark,” based on a survey of about 50 senior-level IT leaders representing 45 companies, mostly with 2,500 employees or more. For its surveys, Nemertes conducts interviews with a stable of IT executives, so is able to gather more in-depth information than the typical Web-based survey. So while 50 may not seem a large number of respondents, Nemertes extracts…

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Some UC enterprise deployments don’t make it past the pilot phase because once companies move to a larger rollout and begin to deploy enterprise voice for phone calls, the network becomes bogged down and users experience problems that “halt the deployment in its tracks.” So says Tom Tuttle, Vice President of the Microsoft Practice at Nectar Services Corp., which makes tools for monitoring, managing and troubleshooting unified communications deployments – tools that he says can help users avoid such a fate. While Nectar has years of experience in the UC management space, with its roots in Avaya, Tuttle says Microsoft Skype…

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When you can get 750,000 people to agree on anything, you’re doing something right. And when you can get 750,000 people to invest their time and perhaps money in the same thing, then you’re really on to something. That 750,000 number made me stand up (figuratively, at least) and take notice of what Twilio is up to. Twilio has a cloud-based platform for embedding communications into various applications, and counts 750,000 developers worldwide as part of its community, as explained in this recent podcast with Manav Khurana, VP product marketing at Twilio. Outlining Use Cases for Embedded Communications Embedded communications involves…

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The market for unified communications as a service (UCaaS) offerings is taking off and it appears that small- and medium-sized businesses are poised to take advantage of it right alongside enterprises, gaining benefits like lower total cost of ownership and improved business continuity. SMBs have many of the same priorities in terms of UC functionality, including mobility, routinely go deep into the weeds to ensure they’ll achieve a solid return on investment (ROI) from their UC implementations. These are some of the highlights of my colleague Kevin Gulley’s recent conversation with Shawn Coyle, VP of Sales for the UCaaS vendor ANPI. (The conversation…

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For years the way users at small or home offices (SOHO) typically gained secure access to corporate networks was through virtual private networks (VPNs). But as unified communications technologies take hold and more traffic is based on the session initial protocol (SIP), session border controllers (SBCs) are replacing VPNs as the preferred way to provide secure communications in a SOHO environments. This is essentially the point behind a blog post I recently ready by SIP expert Andrew Prokop, director of vertical industries at Arrow Systems Integration, which specializes in unified communications, voice and data technologies, contact center and network security. The Old Days,…

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Chat applications are cropping up all over, now almost ubiquitous on all sorts of web sites. Hang around for more than a couple of minutes perusing the latest iPhones on a wireless carrier site and you’re almost guaranteed to find a friendly avatar offering to answer any questions via a chat session. In a recent E-Digital Research study, the #1 preferred way to communicate with companies is via live chat: The more chat is utilized, the more an age-old issue rears its ugly head: are such sessions secure? Or do they even need to be? Increasingly, the answer is yes,…

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