Service Provider UC ecosystems are complex
Hybrid Unified Communications (UC) 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 74% plan to implement cloud UC within the next 24 months.
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 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 using Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Cisco UCM) and their customers through the migration from on-premises to a hosted solution.
Cisco HCS offers industry-leading collaboration technologies in a secure and scalable as-a-service cloud model and 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 for Service Providers?
There must be a lot of IT managers suffering sleepless nights. 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. They're as extinct as the dodo. Multi-vendor infrastructure is here to stay.
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. On every device too, thank you very much. Improving both internal and external customer experience is one of the key drivers for organizations to employ speciality Cisco UC performance management tools.
An online poll of SPs who use Cisco HCS revealed the top three challenges to delivering hybrid services to clients are:
- Identifying the precise location of voice and video performance issues
- Poor visibility across UC services operated by multiple vendors
- 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 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. Service assurance software, like IR Prognosis, offers visibility across hybrid, multi-vendor environments, improving troubleshooting capabilities for SPs, with the aim of improving end-user experience, hastening time-to-identification, reducing time-to-resolution, boosting Service Level Agreement (SLA) compliance, and speeding 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 a solution like Prognosis, 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.
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