Communications Blog • 8 MIN READ

Migrating UC to a Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution

Service Provider UC ecosystems are complex

Hybrid Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) environments, involving both on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure, are increasingly prevalent, so the challenges for Service Providers (SPs) are growing. In fact, in a survey of over 1,000 global enterprise IT decision-makers, Broadsoft Inc. found that cloud-based solutions will continue to expand, becoming a growth point that cannot be ignored.

So as their clients migrate to cloud-hosted UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service), while still maintaining on-premises capabilities, SPs will need to manage complicated collaboration ecosystems across multiple vendors. Troubleshooting in such an environment can prove difficult and costly if not resolved quickly.

This is why Cisco introduced its Hosted Collaboration Solution (Cisco HCS) to support SPs and their customers through the migration from on-premises to a hosted solution, using Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Cisco UCM) . Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) is a next-generation UC and collaboration platform for service providers who want to offer unique Cisco collaboration technologies using hosted and managed models. Cisco HCS delivers the advantages of Cisco’s collaboration solutions, with the financial, operational, and strategic benefits associated with cloud services.

A Cisco hosted collaboration solution offers industry-leading collaboration technologies in a secure and scalable as-a-service cloud model. Also it permits a staged migration process, allowing SPs to mitigate the risks of deployment and cost. Cisco's ongoing updates to HCS further improve flexibility, boost efficiency, and increase business agility.

What are the challenges of cloud-based solutions for Service Providers?

The challenges for SPs are many and varied. Not the least of which is the complexity of a hybrid approach. There's compatibility between on-premises and cloud solutions, there's testing across both platforms, there's capacity considerations, there's cost (more licenses), and what about scale?

Then there's change management. What does the solution provider need to support them through such a project? How about SLA compliance? What can SPs do to measure and communicate compliance performance to their clients? Then there's single-vendor ecosystems, which are fast becoming extinct. Multi-vendor infrastructure is here to stay, so your monitoring tools need to encompass your entire unified communications environment.

And, of course, what about the end user? They're why we're all here, after all. SPs have more challenges than ever, yet end users have an increasing expectation that everything will just work - and on every device.

Improving both internal and external customer experience is one of the key drivers for organizations to employ speciality performance management tools. A Cisco UC performance management tool is designed to offer solutions for Cisco products. But what if your UC architecture consists of Cisco, Microsoft and Avaya systems for example? Third party monitoring tools can see inside the workings of an entire UC ecosystem, including Cisco and other vendors. With the complex nature of unified communications, it's more important than ever to have monitoring tools in place that can step up to the plate within a hybrid, on-premises, cloud hosted and/or multi-vendor environment.

No large organization can operate efficiently without unified communications. With the high level adoption of video conferencing and remote working, cloud-based services are creating dramatic and exciting developments in UC technologies and capabilities

In today’s increasingly hyper-connected and hyper-competitive world, businesses need to excel at communications and collaboration — otherwise they risk missing out on potential growth opportunities and fall behind their competition. An efficient UC solution means that your organization can not only communicate better, but worker productivity and customer service is increased. Think about the logistics of being based in North America for example, and needing to hold an important meeting with a partner or client in Asia Pacific. A video conference saves time and money but the call needs to work faultlessly. IR's solutions offer third party monitoring tools that can keep track of call quality, and identify any problems that might occur.

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Multi-vendor visibility

The need to devote more resources and time to UC monitoring is catching many IT organizations by surprise. As a result, IT groups struggle to achieve a high level of visibility into the use and performance of these complex and interdependent UC applications.

An online poll of SPs who use Cisco HCS revealed the top three challenges to delivering hybrid services to clients are:

  1. Identifying the precise location of voice and video performance issues
  2. Poor visibility across UC services operated by multiple vendors
  3. Poor workload visibility across hybrid set-ups

Operating effectively in a hybrid, multi-vendor world is an ongoing challenge for SPs; interoperable solutions are going to be increasingly important. SPs implementing hybrid ecosystems for their clients need a single view across all of their on-premise, hybrid, UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, right down to the individual device endpoint.

Just to be clear, we're talking software that enables complete visibility of a SP's interoperable UC environment across all third-party solutions providers, be they Cisco HCS, Microsoft Skype for Business, Avaya, or anyone else. It's called “service assurance,” and such a solution permits an administrator to drill right down to the root cause of an endpoint problem.

A recent study by Nemertes found that organizations who employ speciality performance management tools found a number of benefits associated with their use, including:

  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • A reduction in UCC operational costs by an average of 43% for companies with more than 1,000 licenses, driven in part by spending less time troubleshooting problems.
  • Improved employee productivity from 16% without performance management tools to 21% with them, driven in part by detecting the root cause of problems to reduce the time internal and external customers are affected.
  • Avoidance of downtime and outages by proactively analyzing when conditions are right for problems and taking steps to avoid them.

Service assurance in Cisco HCS environments

The most recent update to Cisco HCS boosts end-user operational capabilities, with expanded cloud services, enhanced collaboration apps, improved license management, and better monitoring and diagnostics within its own service assurance product.

However, in all likelihood, SPs are trying to manage a UC ecosystem comprised of multiple technologies from multiple vendors. In-built Cisco monitoring and troubleshooting tools work well for Cisco products and devices, but might not have all the information required for a rapid resolution to client issues. This lack of interoperability can be costly, as determining root cause without visibility across all products represents 80% of the industry-accepted time-to-resolution.

This is why many SPs look to other multi-vendor tools to monitor and troubleshoot complex UC ecosystems.

IR has been a Cisco preferred partner for over a decade. IR's Solutions offer service assurance software, that offers visibility across hybrid, multi-vendor environments, improving troubleshooting capabilities for SPs, with the aim of improving end-user experience. This means faster time-to-identification, reduces time-to-resolution, boosts Service Level Agreement (SLA) compliance, and speeds up time-to-revenue.

Most readers would be familiar with the situation where higher-level engineers are called to resolve unidentified issues, which can often turn out to be something as simple as a lack of power. But by using IR's solutions lower-level engineers can visualize and troubleshoot their entire vendor ecosystem, enabling them to resolve the problem and allowing more senior engineers to focus on higher-value-creation activities.

The UC landscape is getting more and more complicated, meaning SPs must deliver customer solutions across on-premise, cloud, and hybrid networks involving multiple-vendors. But with a good service assurance product in place which can proactively identify disruptions, SPs can drill down to pinpoint an issue's location (no matter the vendor) and troubleshoot the root cause in far less time. It means SPs can better manage their UC ecosystem, increase operational efficiencies, improve customer satisfaction, maintain SLA compliance, and ultimately, improve the end user experience.

Do Unified Communication and Collaboration applications solve the problems they promise?

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Topics: Communications Service Provider Cisco

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