A hybrid unified communications (UC) environment offers enticing business benefits. It allows you to deploy new services and applications in the cloud without undermining your onsite technology investments. It also allows you to select different procurement models for different functional requirements, and helps you shift from CapEx to OpEx spending.
There are challenges with a hybrid environment, however. Integration issues, in particular, can make it difficult to manage UC across on-premises, public cloud and private cloud environments.
It’s important to remember that UC isn’t a single, isolated technology. It’s a suite of standalone applications that are tightly integrated to provide a unified user experience through a common interface. A UC solution is only effective if users can access the services and applications they need through a single interface from the device of their choice.
Such integration and interoperability is fairly straightforward when your UC platform comes from a single vendor such as ShoreTel, which has on-premises infrastructure that is supported in the cloud. The deployment options work easily together because they’re all built on the same software.
However, many hybrid environments have grown organically over time, with services and apps added as needed. In many cases, a hybrid environment can wind up involving multiple vendors or cloud providers delivering distinct components, which makes integration becomes much more difficult. You may have to deploy third-party overlay applications and a variety of APIs to integrate everything.
Disparate Quality of Service (QoS) configurations can also complicate management. QoS mechanisms are used to prioritize network traffic, with real-time traffic such as voice and video getting the highest priority because it suffers most if there are any delays. However, QoS configurations must be consistent at all touchpoints across the hybrid environment or there will be communications breakdowns.
Another management challenge is the integration of communication apps with business apps. Creating such integration can require someone with specific expertise in communication protocols and application interfaces. While standards for such integration have been developed, they aren’t applied uniformly by vendors. Compatibility isn’t guaranteed. Organizations often have to develop special middleware or APIs.
Custom development projects obviously drive up costs along with adding to complexity. However, there are ways to experience all the benefits of hybrid UC while eliminating much of the pain and cost of complex management.
ShoreTel Connect is a unique communications platform with a single code base that runs as a managed service from the cloud or as a self-managed hardware system on-premises. This innovative approach eliminates the need to piece together complex solutions, providing a consistent user experience across any deployment model.
With the ShoreTel Connect Hybrid option, a single, browser-based interface allows seamless collaboration without the need for plug-ins, multiple application windows, passwords or complex setup. Call handling and collaboration tools are integrated with the interface, making it simple to access all communication options, whether you’re using a smartphone, an office phone, a laptop or a desktop computer.
Management complexity is effectively eliminated when you work with IPC. With our managed communication solution, we can handle the deployment, management and maintenance of all the onsite and cloud elements of ShoreTel Connect Hybrid environment. Additionally, our engineers have deep experience using ShoreTel’s open APIs to weave Connect into business applications and workflows.
A hybrid UC environment delivers significant operational benefits such as increased collaboration, reduced infrastructure overhead and improved customer relations. However, management challenges can undermine your best efforts. ShoreTel’s single-platform hybrid solution managed by the experts at IPC can resolve those issues.