Managing Unified Communications for SPs

Unified Communications (UC) is the lifeblood of any organization. Any interruption in flow will cause a rapid deterioration in operational capability of the affected area. It comes as no surprise that the effective management of UC solutions remains a priority for enterprises – whether they do so in-house or outsource to a Managed Network Service (MNS) provider.

For Unified Communications service provider (SP) organizations, much has changed in the past couple of years and they have had to evolve quickly to keep pace. The pandemic changed the very nature and composition of the workspace. As the needs of the enterprise changed, MNS providers were forced to adapt too.

For instance, no one could have anticipated the exodus of the workforce to a mostly work-from-home (WFH) model. MSN providers were adept at dealing with people working in different locations and some level of support was always there for remote work. But no enterprise or MNS provider was prepared for everyone moving their Unified Communications solutions to a WFH model all at once.

UC Security Considerations

From a security perspective, WFH was difficult at the start. Not being in the office anymore and working remotely created large-scale vulnerabilities for the normally established security protocols. Security went out the window. All the precautions that had been taken to barricade and secure the enterprise from a business perspective suddenly became inadequate.

As the workforce moved away, new risks such as ransomware and other cyber-attacks targeted at people working remotely became a huge concern. The collaboration provided by UC always needs to be there, and always needs to be up and available. The challenge then becomes how to do this in a secure manner.

Managing United Communications as a Service and Hosted Unified Communications under these circumstances means MNS providers and enterprises had to develop new security protocols and implement them in a manner that could cover the needs of the remote workforce at a scale previously unheard of.

The Fluid Nature of the UC Workspace

Once MNS providers adapted to the needs of the remote workforce, things did not stay the same. Once the pandemic eased, the pendulum swung in the other direction. The trend is moving towards getting employees back in the office – if not full time, at least for a part of the workweek. This has led to a hybrid scenario, combining the office and WFH.

This is not a universal trend. As time goes on, many industries will come eventually back to a traditional working order. But that largely depends on the work environment, the vertical and the kinds of UC service they provide. Some, like financial institutions appear well on their way to fully moving back. Others, such as the travel industry, which gave up their brick-and-mortar spaces, may never go back.

From a management perspective, MNS providers need to develop UC solutions and scenarios for maintaining business continuity. This involves handling the needs of those that are going back – and what to do in case everyone comes back. It means preparing and adapting to take on the demand flush of new capacity as it happens, while rapidly addressing the change.

At the same time, MNS providers need to continue to provide UC as a service to ensure the ability for anyone to work from anywhere at any time. A successful management strategy must take into account the fluid nature of the working environment.

Managing the Chaos

The rapid move to WFH drove IT organizations to improvise with UC solutions and services that were a blend of a diverse set of assets, some legacy and some new, some on-premises, and some cloud-based. Often times, the outcome was a multi-cloud solution cobbled together to provide the needed coverage. In almost all cases, the move was done under duress with limited time to plan, design, and execute the effort.

One silver lining was that the move brought about the rapid evolution of toolsets to manage the workings of the multitude of systems that made up the infrastructure. It was perhaps the biggest challenge of all for IT operations teams to see into the entire living-breathing topology, go in, and manage all the different assets.

MNS providers and enterprises managing UC as a service need to truly understand what their users are experiencing across the spectrum of workspaces, whether remote, in the office, or mobile. The limited visibility provided by the diversity of toolsets does not make this easy. It requires the ability to analyze real time performance using technologies such as synthetic transactions and user experience management systems to build a holistic picture of the entire IT service delivery infrastructure.

The Bottom Line

It’s all about business continuity in the face of a continuously morphing work environment. It’s all about UC service assurance – to your customers, employees, and anyone else – to make sure UC services are up, viable, and capable of meeting the business goals of the entire organization.

Success stories


“The Optanix single unified platform replaced multiple point tools, reducing the TCO.”