The global unified communications (UC) market is moving fast – for some, too fast – with high adoption rates. According to recent research from Grand View Research, for example, the market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of nearly 17% in the coming years, reaching just over $143 million by 2024.

Much of this growth is expected to come from larger, early-adopter enterprises that are pushing forward on their journey, but as UC vendors expand their cloud offerings in the space ­– and moving from a CAPEX to an OPEX model – it means that even SMBs now have rich UC capabilities at their fingertips.

Key for the modern digital workplace is the ability to work with a familiar toolset for day-to-day activities for as much as possible; utilising common interfaces and simplified work flows to perform daily tasks.

What does UC mean today?

 Today’s UC can be spun into various packaged offerings depending on the requirement of the customer and what the vendor offers. However, the fundamental capabilities comprise instant messaging (IM), presence, voice, conferencing (voice, video and web) and data sharing.

It’s also important to understand that you don’t just buy “some UC” – something that Westcon-Comstor is regularly asked for! Rather, it’s important to understand that it depends on what the organisation needs and that a complete UC solution is typically addressed by multiple products from any given vendor, and is almost always supplied by multiple vendors.

One of the most important aspects of choosing the right UC tools, therefore, is interoperability, whether during potential migration periods – as customers slowly retire older legacy platforms and move to new cloud-based offerings – or implementing specific services and functions to serve the needs of different users.

There is also a significant shift away from on-premise deployments towards cloud-based UC solutions, or UCaaS. Again, the benefits are multiple: sometimes limited or zero upfront investment required, regular payments, on-going updates to the latest technologies, flexibility to add and remove users and/or services, economies of scale within the provider’s infrastructure, no maintenance or upgrades, mobility, flexibility, self-service, scale… the list goes on. 

Addressing ‘pain’ points

Many early UC deployments relied on augmenting existing technology with additional services as they became available – by deploying new equipment and/or software. This created additional interoperability concerns, increased support costs and an increased skillset and resource requirement.

Today, the move to cloud-based UC offerings has removed these burdens, reducing the IT manpower required and allowing greater focus on maintaining and improving the solution itself. The expertise burden now also lies with the vendor rather than solely with the customer, and ensures high availability, backup, upgrade and disaster recovery/mirroring, reducing workload, complexity and risk.

One of the aspects that partners need to be aware of when it comes to helping their customers is the impact that changing architectures and migrating to other vendors might have on any existing equipment or legacy estates.

Furthermore, it’s important to assess the potential reuse and/or associated solutions and offerings from the existing deployment that can complement the intended customer strategy. There are many vendors in the Westcon-Comstor portfolio that offer these migratory products, as well helping to enable cross-platform interoperability for voice and video.

How we help partners to help customers

 We understand the variety and complexity of UC technologies and the different vendor approaches adopted in the market. For organisations, finding their way through this maze of options can be baffling, so understanding the migration routes from existing deployments is crucial.

The vendors within our portfolio help us to understand each key link in the chain and ensure that the customer applies the required focus on each area, while being conscious of the ramifications and outcomes should these elements be overlooked.

That’s why we are aligned with multiple UCC vendors, including Avaya, Mitel, Polycom, RingCentral, AudioCodes and Ribbon. We also ensure the highest levels of security on top, working with leading security vendors such as Palo Alto Networks, Checkpoint and F5.

Furthermore, vendors such as Extreme Networks and Silver Peak provide underlying network capabilities and application optimisation over the WAN, again focusing on the all-important user quality of experience, which is of course key to the success of any collaboration deployment.

To find out more about delivering the right UC solution to your end customers, contact your Westcon-Comstor team today.