Unified Communications Tool Helps Navigate Complex Field

Patrick Avery

IT Business Edge contributor Michael Stevens recently examined the complex field of unified communications and came up with a checklist that covers the high-level areas of concern you should explore when choosing a UC vendor. His Unified Communications Checklist is now available in the Knowledge Network. The checklist looks at potential dealbreakers, key features and vendors.


Here is a look at some of the fundamental choices that need to be made before choosing a vendor. All of them are potential dealbreakers.


ROOTS. If you're like most companies, you operate a mixed mode communication infrastructure, i.e., your employees communicate both by traditional PBX-based systems and IP-based systems. Every vendor in the unified communications space has its roots in one or the other of these technologies, and this influences both their product offerings and the type of solutions they're likely to propose for complex problems. It's worth spending a little time reading the company history section of vendors' Web sites to get a sense of their basic philosophy.


ON-PREMISE vs. HOSTED SERVICE. There are plenty of good products in both the traditional and IP-based categories. Your choices will be shaped by factors including your own legacy infrastructure, the size and skills of your IT staff, relationships you have with vendors, and the likelihood that your company will grow (or shrink) in the next few years.


COMPATIBILITY. In many cases, a unified communications solution will build at least in part on existing systems. It is therefore extremely important to verify that any new systems are compatible with the legacy systems. Most providers are compatible with IBM's Lotus Domino/Notes and Microsoft Exchange.


PARTNERSHIPS. Many vendors who do not provide a full spectrum of products and services team with others to provide a total solution. Some of these partnerships involve substantial integration, while others may be nothing more than joint marketing agreements.


For the complete checklist, click on over to the Knowledge Network.

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