Removing the Obstacles to Unified CommunicationsBy Michael Vizard | Print
Reducing unified communications complexity is the first step towards market expansion
Unified communications has always been a space that offered a lot of promise to the channel. But given all the complexities and components involved in actually creating a solution, customers have been moving to embrace unified communications at a modest pace.
Hewlett-Packard wants to change the pace of adoption of unified communications with a new set of offerings launched today at the Enterprise Connect conference that combine the company’s networking technology with software from Microsoft and Polycom to create a modular approach to building turnkey unified communications systems in the form of HP AppSystem for Microsoft Lync and HP Polycom Rich Media Communications (RMC) solution.
According to Dragana Beara, worldwide virtual workplace solutions lead, for HP Technology Consulting, the idea behind these offerings is to create frictionless approach to deploying unified communications solutions based on Microsoft and Polycom software. In fact, Beara says it’s fairly common to see Microsoft Lync and Polycom offering being deployed within the same organization.
Unlike offerings from rivals such as Cisco, Beara says Microsoft Lync and Polycom video conferencing software are essentially software applications that need to be deployed on networking and server components. In some instances customers already have some of this gear in place, so they need vendors to work together to give them a modular set of options for deploying unified communications solutions.
Ever since HP sold its Halo offerings to Polycom, the company has been striving to be seen as a more software neutral player in the unified communications space. In terms of networking, unified communications is expected to drive a large number of upgrades. In fact, HP says that unified communications should double bandwidth consumption across wide area networks, while at the same time increasing network consumption by a factor of four to seven on local area networks.
The important thing to remember, says Beara, is that unified communications is more of a journey than an event. Each customer will over time deploy different elements of unified communications at different rate of adoption. In addition, interoperability when it comes to unified communications is still very much a work in progress. That means each customer will need a lot of hand holding from solution providers, which should create the opportunity for solution providers to deliver a lot of high-margin services.
In particular, most customers have little understanding of how unified communications will transform their internal workflow systems, which creates an opportunity to deliver both business and technology consulting services.
The good news is that not only are business executives interested in taking advantage of unified communications to increase productivity, the internal IT staff views these offerings as a way to lighten their workload. Of course, it remains to be seem to what degree unified communications solutions will be delivered via the cloud, but it’s safe to assume that whatever the final outcome customers will be managing hybrid unified communications environments for years to come.
In the meantime, most customers typically don’t have the expertise on hand to successfully implement unified communications, which, of course, is exactly why unified communications should prove to eventually be a more significant opportunity for solution providers in the channel.