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Planning for Unified Communications
July 15, 2008 @ 10:40 AM | By Ken Kurz

July15ucplanning_2 For most enterprise companies, a fully-integrated Unified Communications solution is a huge project and is typically deployed in multiple phases spanning several months (if not years).  A well thought-through plan considers the business objectives your company must realize from a UC solution and always factors in the “readiness” of your network, server architecture, software, and even your organization’s resource ability to execute the plan. Readiness should also allow for the “x-factors”.  For example, What kind of additional resource utilization occurs when a powerful UC application supporting messaging, voice, video, and conferencing media is rolled out to every desktop in your organization?  A good plan considers the necessary cultural and service adoption factors - so that investments in your UC system are adopted and maximized by members of your user community.

Last week, I met with one of our customers to review the current status of their Unified Communications (UC) initiative. Much has been accomplished; just a few days prior to my visit, they completed rolling out the latest phase of the company- wide UC solution to their entire workforce (about 10,000 users). For this customer, the process started early this year and should complete early in the third quarter of 2009.

Here’s what has been accomplished: all employees have a UC desktop application that enables secure, auditable, enterprise Instant Messaging, Presence, and Click-to-Call Voice over IP (UC client-to-client voice). To support this rollout, the UC server pools were completely upgraded with new software and hardware, a new datacenter was brought online, the data networks were engineered to the forecasted usage levels, and new systems architecture was deployed utilizing geo-redundancy to support the multi-national user-base as well as providing failover survival capabilities. In addition, every user was given remote access so that all UC presence, messaging, and voice features were supported wherever the employee happens to be working.

In the coming months, the internal support team will be performing a series of utilization studies. Capacity evaluations will measure the utilization and performance of the new UC solution and the study will provide a capacity management and systems administration plan. During the evaluation, user-community internal support records will be audited for issues. Some adoption hurdles are expected, so the end-user study will contain training and adoption recommendations.

For now, it’s a major accomplishment that the foundations of a UC system have been brought online and are enabling every employee to “IM” or “UC-talk” with a fellow employee. But there is more on the way as this UC initiative has several future phases planned and funded. Federation with partners, vendors, or customers, has yet to be accomplished, but that phase will quickly follow on the completion of the above-mentioned capacity study. And by this time next year, the UC System will integrate with the company PBX so telephony functions like “click-to-call” to any phone number is possible.

I mention all this because I want to illustrate that this customer has invested wisely in an extensive amount of pre-deployment planning, and the successful rollout results are the obvious evidence of a solid plan.

Did you know that InterCall offers “UC Planning” services to our customers? These services grew out of our existing meeting consulting services and our extensive partner relationships with industry-leading UC vendors. InterCall’s UC Planning services are consultative in nature and designed to help you construct a sound UC strategy that is tailored to achieve your business objectives. For example, our engineering studies place UC engineers on your site with your team to evaluate your UC objectives and your communications infrastructure’s “readiness” to support a UC system. The result of the engagement is an extensive study and recommendation - to help define your UC plan scope, phases, requirements, and budget.

In my next posting, I’ll continue this theme. I may have some interesting research to share.  If you’d like more information on how InterCall supports Unified Communications, attend one of our free webinars this month.

Ken_6 Ken Kurz, Director of Unified Communications. Kurz is responsible for the end-user success of Unified Communications deployments; ensuring businesses have a more efficient, easier-to-use communications environment.

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Cambria Vaccaro

Unified meetings are about taking multiple communication channels and making that experience more streamlined. They bring together all the different ways people can communicate with each other into one interface; if you join or start a meeting using web, audio, video, IM or chat, the meeting doesn’t feel disparate. This also gives you control over the way others communicate with you—choose how you’ll be available and when.

InterCall’s vision in this market is to provide organizations with options so they can choose the method that is right for them, either to help support and manage on-site systems or to allow connectivity to our hosted services through innovative tools and IP technologies. With partners like Microsoft and well respected system integrators like SKT, InterCall is working to integrate communication services business people rely on today and deliver an experience called unified meetings. With Microsoft and system integrators partners, InterCall is working to integrate communication services business people rely on today and deliver an experience called unified meetings.

Unified meetings are here and now and represent the first step towards Unified Communications for enterprises. End users are demanding today’s core business communication tools, like mobile devices, web conferencing and instant messaging services, work more seamlessly and are based on their individual preferences. To deliver a truly unified experience, enterprises require a platform for subscribed services so they can provision or purchase separately based on their needs.

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