How important is UC monitoring and management to organizations? According to a Gartner study published in September 2011 called “Survey Analysis: Top Five Challenges When Migrating Your Unified Communications Infrastructure Into Your Data Center“, real-time performance is second only to ensuring compatibility and interoperability of the UC vendor technologies. The Gartner study spanning 8 countries, over a 100 organizations per country with a minimum of 1000 employees per organization outlines the key challenges when adopting UC technologies into the data center. Gartner’s findings quantify the end-user importance of real-time visibility into the UC environment.
When discussing Unified Communications, we refer to all the voice, video, collaboration, mobility, and integration to the enterprise application technologies.
The nature of real-time applications requires a level of tolerance within the data network that has been previously unneeded for pure data center needs:
- Voice requires low latency and low packet loss levels
- Video requires higher bandwidth, low latency and low packet loss levels
- Both voice and video requires five nines availability.
Gartner’s study shows that end-users have real business value for real-time visibility over this environment. The study ranks operational expenditure (opex) savings second in business value and one of the key drivers to migrating UC to the data center.
However, creating opex savings is highly dependent on a few major factors:
- Ensuring all aspects of operations are involved in UC operations to include groups like the DB team, virtualization team, telecom team, data network infrastructure team, network architects, etc…
- Real-time visibility must include the KPIs relative to each UC application such as MOS, Packet Loss, latency, Bandwidth, endpoint visibility, etc…
- Ensuring the operational teams have sufficient education and experience with the multi-vendor UC systems and ensuring that technology can augment support experiences if-possible
As I look back at the corollaries of VoIP adoption over a decade ago and UC adoption trends occurring today, it’s evident that end-user prudence in incorporating new technologies has increased. When VoIP was first introduced into the enterprise domain, monitoring and management was generally considered an afterthought. Too often we heard stories of lack of visibility to the data network, TCP versus UDP level analysis, active versus passive testing, etc… Today, the findings from Gartner shows approximately 39% of respondents recognizing that investment in management tools will be the second largest impact to UC. As we see the growing trend of investments within both the large enterprise and SMB space for UC technologies, Gartner’s findings truly shows the need for utilizing the most applicable tools to manage the UC environment. However, we must not forget the findings by Nemertes that shows a diminishing return when utilizing multiple tools to manage the same environment. Consolidation of all the metrics into a singular view also drives business benefit in reducing opex expenditures.
As telepresence, video and mobility continues to be adopted and the adoption rate grows over the coming years, it will be interesting to see the growth rate patterns in management tools investments.