A couple of forces are conspiring to make it difficult for companies to keep up with the management of their voice over IP (VOIP) networks, and the larger unified communications infrastructure into which VOIP is inextricably entwined. These forces include the increasing complexity of the environment as additional elements are added and the need for many companies to manage them on a 24×7 basis – and with an IT workforce that has probably shrunk over the last few years.
The Changing Face of VOIP
Mark Damphousse, Director of Managed Services for Carousel Industries, has seen these forces first-hand in his dealings with customers. Until a couple of years ago, when a company implemented VOIP it typically meant just a voice network using equipment from a single vendor.
“Now with unified communications, you’ve got players like Microsoft and Polycom getting into the game with video, presence and instant messaging escalating to a voice or video call,” Damphousse says. “There’s a lot of integration work to make that happen. You can see the business value, but it leads to obstacles that need to be dealt with from an ongoing support and services delivery perspective.”
Take, for example, a seemingly simple capability like when a colleague from your company calls, his photo pops up, giving you a visual representation of who’s calling. “But that little picture pop now leads to integration with Active Directory on back end, which increases complexity” he says. “As these tools become more widely adopted and used, they become like a utility, so when they’re not available it’s a serious problem.”
Increasing Demands on IT – with Reduced Headcount
At the same time that complexity is on the rise, the pressure is on for IT to deliver service around the clock. “Almost every client from large to small is dealing with similar problems, like the world putting 24×7 demand on IT. How do you figure out how to deliver service in a 24×7 world?” Damphousse says. “And complexity is bringing additional touch points.”
Consider the bring your own device trend. That means IT must now deal with all manner of tablets, smart phones and laptops. “That’s introducing a bunch of new problems, whether the devices are allowed on the network or not,” he says. Video is a prime example, as it’s a tool employees are increasingly using in their personal lives, so they expect to be able to use it at work as well. “Clients have to figure out how to get there very quickly.”
Managed Services Provide Help for VOIP and UC Support
Carousel offers a solution to companies faced with such challenges with a series of managed services that offer various levels of support, from basic monitoring and operational tasks such as patch management to a complete managed service handling everything from changes to configuration.
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Carousel has developed its own management tools that make sense of alarms and alerts coming from various VOIP and UC components. “We have the ability to correlate a bunch of different elements and get a picture from the business level, as opposed to the box or network level,” Damphousse says. That means clients can quickly determine if a failure is a 2-minute, 2-hour or 2-day sort of problem, so IT can then consult with the business on an appropriate response. That’s a significant step up from the usual routine of opening a trouble ticket with a vendor and then simply waiting for a response, he notes.
“Part of our managed service philosophy is to be proactive with our clients, and to allow our clients to be more proactive to their end users or their constituents,” he says.
Carousel’s tools also provide visibility into areas where there previously was none. “Say I put an IP phone at someone’s house. I can see exactly how well it’s performing over the Internet,” Damphousse says. “If the user complains about voice quality, I can determine if it’s a problem we can control or if we need to come up with a better solution.”
When problems that arise that require intervention from a software or equipment manufacturer, Carousel can also act as an agent on the customer’s behalf to open trouble tickets, escalate as necessary and see the issue through to its conclusion.
No matter what size your company is, Carousel has services that can keep your VOIP and UC environments in top shape. Contact Carousel to learn more.