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3 features to focus on when evaluating unified communications solutions - TEO Technologies - Blog

3 features to focus on when evaluating unified communications solutions

The drive toward unified communications (UC) by both enterprises and SMBs has revolutionized how their employees use devices and applications:

  • On the device side, workers have gravitated toward bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives, which are promoted at many companies as cost-saving measures (since the organization itself can avoid procuring new hardware). A personal phone, tablet or laptop can often easily be configured to run UC applications or serve as a softphone, i.e. a client capable of receiving forwarded calls, videos, etc. from office phones. In 2016, Harvard Business Review documented greater prevalence of BYOD and similar policies (e.g., using cloud computing services of choice) at high-performing companies.
  • UC has an even more obvious influence on business applications. Frost & Sullivan found that more than half (51 percent) of managers and executives in 2016 had installed company-mandated applications on their devices, an increase from only 27 percent in 2011. A Spiceworks survey revealed a majority of respondents felt collaborative chat apps were important tools within their organizations. Whether originally designed for enterprises (like most UC solutions) or startups (like Slack et al.), messaging has become an appealing alternative to email in many contexts.

These effects have taken years to emerge: Consider that VoIP, a critical component of any UC suite, dates all the way back to the 1970s, when it was pioneered in an early flight simulator supported by internet predecessor ARPANET. Like video conferencing and other components of UC, VoIP required adequate supporting infrastructure to achieve real-time performance, and such a technical base only emerged relatively recently.

Now that decision-makers at every firm from a new small business to a decades-old enterprise have access to viable UC options, what should they look for when evaluating these application bundles? The sheer number of features, infrastructures and add-ons rolled into many modern UC packages can seem overwhelming. Let's look at what you can focus on to make your selection process easier:

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1. The coherence of its architecture

UC brings together numerous functions across voice, video and messaging, in addition to its capabilities in email, fax, and call blocking and recording. To stitch all these activities together, it's common for UC architectures to require additional components such as external gateways, extra interfaces, dedicated servers for mobility and voicemail and much more. It almost goes without saying that adding so many different moving parts to the system creates substantial overhead for IT while increasing the chances of something failing, resulting in disruptions to critical applications.

In the Teo Unified Communications suite, you don't have to deal with such complexity. The underlying Teo System Architecture obviates the need for numerous add-ons. Accordingly, it exhibits better scalability and resiliency than other UC architectures that have to be assembled piecemeal with higher risk of failure and poor performance.

This design superiority is readily apparent in activities such as screen sharing from a softphone. Instead of requiring viewers to download plugins and applications to participate, the screenshare happens over HTML5 and is accessible from any mobile or desktop device with a simple link.

Encryption via TLS and SRTP helps secure unified communications data.

2. The security of its endpoints

Cyberattacks have become more sophisticated in recent years. Perpetrators had numerous options for zero-day flaws to exploit, such as the "Eternal Blue" loophole in Microsoft Windows that enabled the groundbreaking WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware campaigns. Additionally, there's significant risk from workflows and programs that are not technically compromised but nevertheless enable data leakage; unapproved (by the IT department, at least) cloud services are a prime example.

UC is a vital link in the security chain, since critical information is regularly passing over its endpoints. Moreover, the stakes for adequate protection have risen dramatically with the passage of regulations such as the General Data Protection Rule (GDPR) in the European Union, which is set to take effect in May 2018. GDPR places new liabilities on all data centers processing workloads for EU-based entities, even if those facilities aren't located in the EU proper.

In Teo UC, you get the benefit of robust endpoints that securely authenticate over HTTPS via TLS. Passwords are never sent in plaintext, and all media is shielded by the Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP). With extensive utilization of both TLS and SRTP, there's the added benefit of reduced reliance on expensive virtual private networks, which become redundant.

3. The quality of its presence features

Presence is a cornerstone of UC, allowing for location of devices connecting to individual applications and insight into whether they are currently available to receive communications. At the same time, managing it can quickly become a headache without the right application architecture or the underlying wide area network (WAN) infrastructure to support it.

Effective presence requires a UC platform that reliably synchronizes availability states, so that users don't end up calling or messaging an endpoint that isn't actually available/connected. It also needs a WAN capable of assessing network paths such as jitter, latency and packet loss and rerouting traffic as needed so that the performance of real-time apps – including presence, VoIP and video conferencing – is not degraded by congestion affecting lower-priority programs.

"Effective presence requires a UC platform that reliably synchronizes availability states."

The move toward software-defined WANs (aka SD-WANs) has addressed some of the traditional problems with supporting apps like presence. However, the network itself can only go so far in enabling seamless communications; a reliable UC platform such as Teo UC is also essential.

Get the best UC solution for your organization

UC should make your operations simpler, not more complicated. As we have seen, though, many suites produce the opposite effect, through a combination of complex infrastructure, insufficient security and poor state synchronization.

You don't have to worry about these shortcomings with Teo UC. Built on a robust and scalable architecture, our platform is your ticket to a more productive future for your organization. Learn more by visiting our UC product page or contacting us directly by phone or live chat.


Publish Date: January 30, 2018 5:00 AM

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View more from TEO Technologies

Recent Blog Posts:
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