Why Scalability Must Be Part of the UC Conversation


When organizations choose a unified communications (UC) system to increase collaboration and improve communication efficiency, they often forget to consider scalability. They choose a system based upon current need rather than looking ahead to the communications landscape five years down the road. They may be able to hum along for a short time, but as the company grows, the UC solution will often fail to meet expectations at some point.

Scalability is the ability of an organization to increase in size or expand its services without disrupting business operations. Every IT investment must be made with scalability in mind, and UC is no exception. When investing in UC, it’s important to build a communications foundation that is capable of supporting new users, new devices and new services. It’s important to consider how a UC solution will be supported by your network and maintained as your business grows. Investing in UC with scalability in mind makes it possible to better control costs and maintain high levels of employee productivity as communications needs evolve.

If you choose a UC platform with fixed limits and a lack of flexibility in services, you’ll have to invest in a new solution to scale beyond those limits. While some products only support up to 2,000 users, ShoreTel allows organizations to quickly and cost-effectively scale to up to 20,000 users and 500 sites within the same image. While some products require expensive new hardware and specialized technical expertise to implement, ShoreTel has a single architecture with components that are simple to upgrade. This makes it easier to take advantage of new services while extending the lifespan of the product.

As we discussed in a previous post, virtualization improves scalability by dramatically improving resource utilization rates and server maintenance, accelerating deployment times for new applications, and reducing capital and operational costs. ShoreTel offers a virtualization option in its UC platform with a customizable deployment model so customers can fully leverage their investments in virtualization.

What about cloud-based UC solutions? In theory, the cloud should allow for virtually unlimited scalability. The elastic, pay-as-you-go model of the cloud implies that you can simply add more users, more functionality, more storage and more of whatever you need, when you need it. And you’ll always be using the latest and best technology available. However, this is when theory sometimes clashes with reality. In reality, the emergence of cloud-based UC has resulted in the emergence in a number of cloud-based UC vendors, many of which struggle to scale with the organizations they’ve agreed to support.

With an increasingly remote workforce and dispersed office branches, cloud-based UC is often the only viable option. But it must be seamlessly scalable to support continued growth. ShoreTel’s cloud-based UC solution is responsive, flexible and scalable enough to adapt to changing market conditions and deliver the functionality that employees and customers demand.

IPC can help you design, implement and maintain a ShoreTel UC solution that can grow with your organization in terms of both size and capabilities. Let’s sit down and assess your needs, now and five years from now, and develop a UC strategy that is aligned with your business processes and objectives.