Feeds

The rocky road to UC

Is it worth the hassle?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Workshop While Unified Communications (UC) is not quite mass market, the number of organisations giving it the once-over is growing. Hype aside, UC is something that companies will find themselves adopting quite simply because fragmented communications in the workplace are increasingly common, which causes problems for the general workforce and IT staff alike. Add to this the fact that employees sitting at their desks from 9am to 5:30pm is no longer a reality for many businesses and, grudgingly perhaps, UC begins to make sense.

So, the end result of a UC implementation might offer more than a handful of benefits, but how easy is it to achieve? If we are to believe everything we read, then it is a breeze. The number of documented success stories lined up by vendors is testament to this, isn’t it? Unfortunately, if companies approach UC with this frame of mind, there is a strong possibility that their implementation will flounder, and they could find themselves in a much worse place than where they started, and with a lot less money. Based on research by Freeform Dynamics into UC, feedback from users suggests that ”eyes wide open” is a phrase well worth bearing in mind when starting off such projects.

Technical issues are a given with any migration to UC. The most common areas of difficulty cited include integration with existing systems, eliminating single points of failure and managing security issues, all of which can often prove more challenging than initially perceived. During an implementation, IT staff will find themselves dealing with issues like these, as well as providing support for users around a variety of interface issues and devices. This won’t replace the existing need for technical support, but will be in addition to it. IT departments can quickly find themselves buckling under the strain of the extra work unless adequate provisions have been made.

The challenges don’t end with the technical, however: even if the company survives the technical upheaval, unresolved business issues can be the kiss of death to UC. Probably the biggest of these is getting people to actually use it, and in the right way. A shift to UC requires cultural change which needs to be driven from the top down. Without this, there is probably little point in kicking off any kind of UC strategy. It is important to remember that, not only are employees dealing with new interfaces to technology, they will also need to change the way they do things.

For example, there is limited value in having a one-click-to-call videoconference facility to set up meetings on the spur, if you persist in trawling through calendars, calling people and sending out emails to check availability before finally settling on a meeting time and date two weeks ahead. And while there are some Reg readers out there who might think this example is laughable, there are many more who will be familiar with a company culture driven by old school staff who simply won't use “this new fangled messaging stuff”.

Embedded within both the technical and business areas is the issue of regulation, which, while impacting the financial and energy sectors the most, is beginning to seep into other business verticals. While regulatory challenges will naturally exist in non-UC environments, when real-time communications are extended, through applications such as web based meetings, social networking and instant messaging, the regulatory headache increases somewhat. This is felt most obviously around conforming with auditing requirements (for example, logging and recording communications).

Such problems are not insurmountable, of course, and solutions exist to deal with them. But they need to be on the to do list: breakdown in any of these areas is usually driven by a failure to plan properly. Planning requires the serious attention of all stakeholders from senior management to the IT department, with the involvement of all key users and groups. Given the possible areas of difficulty when moving to UC, businesses could be forgiven for asking the question, why bother? Especially when such a move does not come cheap. This is a valid question, and some companies will doubtless see UC as more trouble than it is worth, at least for now. But as our communications landscape becomes more and more fragmented, the absence of such an approach will lead to greater and greater inefficiencies. And ultimately, there will be a tipping point where the question becomes one of not “Why bother?” but “When can we begin?”

If you have any stories to share, we’d be really interested to hear them. ®

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 Healthkit gets a bug SO Apple KILLS it. That's real healthcare!
Not fit for purpose on day of launch, says Cupertino
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.