Arthur Cole spoke with James Whitemore, executive vice president, West IP Communications.
The cloud is rapidly transitioning from a basic storage and application environment to a full unified communications solution. But how is the enterprise expected to trust such a complex venture as UC to a still largely unknown infrastructure like the cloud? According to West IP Communications’ James Whitemore, the answer is: very carefully. Every cloud-based UC deployment will have unique features, so a slow but steady approach is your best bet.
Cole: It seems that cloud deployments are starting to make the transition from initial storage and backup applications to broader UC architectures. What are some of the things the enterprise needs to keep in mind when undertaking this transition?
Whitemore: The UC solution for each company is going to be different based on several factors: what the company does, what types of clients it serves, the kinds of partners it works with, the structure of its supply chain, and even the different ways in which its employees work. That’s why enterprises need to be wary of cookie-cutter UC solutions – UC architectures should align with the business goals of the organization to make business better. Understanding the hard and soft implications of a transition to UC are critical, which is why an enterprise-wide view of the unique challenges an organization faces is imperative.
Any enterprise that wants to get better at its business is a good candidate for UC. Organizations can get better by first understanding their businesses and how they use communications today, and then demonstrating how they can help improve core competencies such as customer service, employee productivity and business applications with their cloud deployments.
Cole: Most large enterprises are likely to retain private infrastructure for some time, but can we expect small and mid-sized organizations to turn to fully hosted cloud operations? Have the security and availability concerns been adequately addressed?
Whitemore: One of the prevailing myths of cloud-based communications is that this is an all-or-nothing proposition. In reality, migration to the cloud is a complex proposition, so performing a complete rip-and-replace is a bad business decision fraught with risk.
Cole: What steps does the enterprise need to take today in order to be properly positioned for an increasingly cloudy tomorrow?
Whitemore: An enterprise-wide deployment of any IT solution can be a daunting undertaking. When it comes to UC cloud deployments, the difficulty is arguably even more exacerbated. Costly mistakes are avoidable if an organization is thoroughly prepared before embarking on the selection and deployment of such important technology to a business.
The key for a successful UC implementation is to involve all functional areas of business, such as finance, HR, manufacturing, customer service, and remote sites and workers to discuss how UC tools can positively impact their operations and processes. Enterprises need to establish roadmaps that enable them to reach their goals. While a migration to UC may take place over several years, there should be clear goals and metrics set along the roadmaps to ensure success.
The first part of that roadmap should be to get the network right. The best way to achieve this is to evaluate the effectiveness of using a fully managed infrastructure that can provide the type of application performance, flexibility and resiliency required in today’s business environment. There should also be a comprehensive set of network interfaces available through that service to suit a mid-market company’s business needs while providing full visibility into the network performance – from the router and switch to the network core.
Only after the network is set should the enterprise start on its core voice services, and then work with it to prioritize and implement the other UC applications and services that best match its business goals. By following this process, enterprises can ensure that their cloud deployments best align with business needs – not only today, but well into the future.