Why Unified Communications Can Be Hard for IT to Support
by Joe Michalowski on

It’s taken more than a decade, but we’ve finally reached the point where VoIP lines are the primary means of communication for enterprises. Business leaders love it because VoIP, videoconferencing and other elements of unified communications (UC) can significantly improve employee productivity. Using unified communications can also help businesses have more flexibility and options, such as supporting more remote locations and employees.

But what about the IT department? End users won’t realize it, but supporting unified communications is far more complicated than it seems.

Your employees think modern communications solutions are simple—you just log into Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, HipChat or any other product and you’re good to go. However, IT leaders know that a set-it-and-forget-it mindset just doesn’t make sense for managing unified communications.

If you want your business leaders to enjoy the productivity and cost benefits of unified communications on the front end, you have to overcome the backend management challenges.

Unified Communications Introduces New Networking Challenges

When VoIP first emerged, IT teams weren’t expecting the need for extensive monitoring and management. It was more of an afterthought, as people failed to realize the implications of incorporating communications traffic in the data network. But that changed quickly as the speed and ease of VoIP became apparent.

For all of the benefits of VoIP and videoconferencing, no one said it would be easy to support these real-time applications. Unlike legacy telephony systems, unified communications depends on the enterprise network and requires low latency, low packet loss and high availability. Network optimization and improvement tools have emerged to keep up with these new demands.

Unfortunately, legacy application and network monitoring solutions aren’t optimized for unified communications traffic, even though all of the packets are transported over the data network. The main problem is that these legacy monitoring tools can’t provide granular visibility into each individual component of unified communications. Instead, IT teams either end up buying different point-monitoring solutions for each application or end up avoiding a visibility strategy altogether.

If you’re making either of these two mistakes, you’re missing out on key metrics such as MOS score, packet loss, latency and more. With VoIP, video streaming and other aspects of unified communications becoming such mission-critical applications, you can’t afford to have such little information to draw from when there are problems with performance and end-user experience. Those problems are only compounded by the use of cloud and SaaS in enterprises, making it hard to pinpoint where in the application delivery path a UC problem is occurring.

Visibility Is the Foundation for Successful Unified Communications

Surveys have shown that the main unified communications challenge is the ability to monitor and troubleshoot endpoint devices quickly and efficiently. When you’re having trouble monitoring the unified communications infrastructure, you’ll be forced into a reactive approach to troubleshooting. And you’ll hear about it quickly from end users.

This may have been sufficient in the early days of VoIP and video use in businesses, but end-user expectations now require a proactive management strategy. The foundation of your proactive unified communications management strategy is packet-level visibility.

Unlike legacy monitoring applications, a purpose-built UC monitoring solution will help you identify common communications problems, such as:

  • Insufficient network capacity
  • Latency issues throughout the UC system
  • Quality of service fluctuations
  • Poor connection to your ISP
  • Bad call quality

Your employees might think unified communications is as simple as downloading a free Skype client, but they’ll be the first ones to complain when performance degrades. Or worse, they might abandon your UC experience altogether in favor of insecure apps on their personal devices.

For better results, try monitoring like ours that’s built to offer UC visibility and proactivity.

Filed Under: Performance Monitoring

Tags: end user experience , unified communications , voip