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ITand IP Telephony: Don’t just manage complexity; it’s time to beat it

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Your IT environment is complex enough. Although your experience with most vendors may lead you to believe that there’s no avoiding complexity, it doesn’t have to be that way—at least not when it comes …

Your IT environment is complex enough. Although your experience with most vendors may lead you to believe that there’s no avoiding complexity, it doesn’t have to be that way—at least not when it comes to your IP telephony infrastructure.

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  • 1. w h i t e pa p erIT—and IP Telephony:Don’t just manage complexity;it’s time to beat itYour IT environment is complex enough. Although yourexperience with most vendors may lead you to believe that there’s noavoiding complexity, it doesn’t have to be that way—at least not whenit comes to your IP telephony infrastructure.ExEcuTIvE SummaryMany it leaders accept the idea that complexity in their infrastructuresis inevitable and that trying to do a better job of managing it is their onlyrecourse. 57% of respondents considerwhy? So much of their experience makes them think complexity is a fact of having a strategy totheir lives—everything from hard-to-decipher software licensing schemes todifficult-to-accomplish integrations with other applications and workflows, replace legacy solutionsto a ceaseless flow of security vulnerabilities due to product bloat. with multiple less complexit’s easy to understand that they may be hesitant to add to that complexity, solutions to be the besteven as they know they must continually advance business capabilities— way to defeat IT complexity. What factors do you believe are contributing most actively to business technology complexity today? Needing to support an increasingly diverse set of technologies 55% Lack of standards across technologies 47% Conflicting proprietary technologies 44% Difficulty integrating legacy technology 43% Vendors not making enough effort to simplify their solutions 36% Vendors leveraging complexity to create codependency with customers 35% Needing to keep pace with end user expectations 34% Vendors using complexity to generate revenue from service and support 32% Vendors protecting their complex legacy technologies or acquisitions 32% Lacking the appropriate internal technology skill sets/knowledge 31% inherent complexity of technology 30% Vendors focusing too narrowly on their solutions to win market share 28% source: iDG research; base: 324 respondents
  • 2. white paper | it—aND ip teLephoNY: DoN’t juSt MaNaGe CoMpLexitY; it’S tiMe to beat itincluding accelerating collaboration functionality with new ip telephony deployments. although unifiedcommunications might not rank at the top of it professionals’ lists of complexity culprits, it can’t affordfallout from introducing operational or management strains into critical communications infrastructures.that’s especially to be avoided in it environments that are increasingly reaching outward to run applicationsin the cloud, to which business communications services must connect.Yet the truth is that many it—and ip telephony—vendors continue to benefit from fostering complexity: theydraw much of their revenue from helping customers manage it, and it leaders know it. a new iDG researchsurvey of 324 it leaders and line-of-business executives, “Navigating it Complexity,” reveals that two-thirdsof the respondents don’t think technology is in itself inherently complex.rather, it’s the circumstances of its implementation in specific solutions that often are to blame: as onesurvey respondent complained, the biggest contributors to it complexity are architectural, both technicaland design-related.Frankly, it leaders are growing tired of providers’ neither acknowledging their role in creating complexitynor devoting resources to efforts to simplify their products. Such vendor-induced complexity stands in theway of maximizing it investments, and that’s a price no one can afford. as resigned as it professionals maybe to having to deal with the consequences of complexity, they also seem intent on minimizing it wheneverthey can. the good news is that in a few areas, ip telephony among them, those opportunities do exist. ThE BIg c: complExITy crEEpS tions is a big contributor to overall it ThroughouT InfraSTrucTurE complexity and that just 12 percent 6 out of 10 Certainly, many organizational factors contribute to it complexity. although ip see moving to an ip telephony model in a similar light implies relatively minor respondents claim that telephony isn’t always a chief offender, concern. Yet we’ll see how ip telephony, its relationships to other critical busi- although not perceived as a main IT complexity poses an ness communications and collaboration complexity culprit, can still drive overall extreme or significant issues—as well as the beginning of the it complexity. For example, nearly 40 next expected Voip upgrade cycle— percent see trying to integrate current challenge to their mean that it has greater resonance than tools for communications and collabora- meets the eye. tion into business processes as adding organizations. to overall complexity. More than half of the respondents said addressing security and compliance that unified communications and ip is a leading contributor, for example, telephony still resonate as distinct issues followed closely by aligning technology has significance too: it shows awareness solutions with business objectives that the population it serves does not and addressing users’ expectations. tolerate disruptions in communications Such problems speak, at one level, services. it professionals, then, are to frustration with some vendors’ not sanguine about their next steps products. Further, they reflect the into packet-switched communications difficulties it organizations experience connections. they are contending, after in trying to cope with the general push all, with the fact that the guaranteed and pull of external requirements— “dial-tone service” of the public switched such as complying with customer data telephone network (pStN) has become protection regulations—and business code for “it infrastructures that work.” units’ internal demands to deliver how ironic it would be if complexity were new applications and processes that to hinder ip telephony efforts. enhance productivity and revenue. against that backdrop, the fact that complExITy runS In cyclES only one-fifth of the respondents stated the survey’s finding that ip telephony that implementing unified communica- per se is a relatively minor contributor
  • 3. white paper | it—aND ip teLephoNY: DoN’t juSt MaNaGe CoMpLexitY; it’S tiMe to beat it 3 to overall complexity may also reflect any kind of technology investment, that it typically deals with such issues on as is the case for some 60 percent of 30% a cyclical basis, such as when it’s time to replace legacy and proprietary pbx companies. and for ip telephony systems, much of the roi depends on the ability see Ip telephony as technologies at end of life. but the next to seamlessly flow information across cycle starts soon, and it will be defined resources and applications, on-premisesextremely or significantly by Voip implementations: although Voip or in the cloud, to speed access to complex to maintain had penetrated only 42 percent of u.S. customer records, resolve issues during businesses at the end of 2009, it should calls or track service time and billing for and manage. reach 79 percent by 2013, according client phone calls in progress. to in-Stat. infonetics research reports that the ip contact center and unified Yet nearly 40 percent of the respondents communications markets will have sales reported that integrating tools for surpassing $1 billion by 2012 and 2013, communications and collaboration a further respectively. as it leaders investigate into business processes is a major 56% their Voip options, they will be looking for solutions that make the deployment and ongoing usage and management experi- contributor to it complexity. So it’s little wonder that integrating ip telephony into business processes is a challenge that see Ip telephony as ence as seamless as possible. more than one-third of the respondents somewhat complex. have experienced or expected. unfortunately, they’re not entirely hopeful that they’re going to find what Complexity in the communications they seek as they come closer to their infrastructure can also manifest itself own upgrade cycles. once the proposi- in another arena that affects the overall only tion becomes real, complexity concerns business infrastructure: managing 2% manifest themselves in a big way. More than 40 percent of the respondents, for instance, expect they’ll need vendor remote and mobile users, cited by one-third of the respondents as an it organizational source of complexity. see Ip telephony as not assistance to implement an ip telephony that category is broad, but an important at all complex. solution or have needed it in the past. aspect is it’s facilitation of fixed/mobile with as much it complexity as they convergence. after all, smartphones are already confront—more than half of the becoming ubiquitous, raising the stakes respondents said it represents a signifi- for ip telephony efforts to seamlessly cant or extreme challenge—that’s not a hand off calls between cellular and promising start. and the picture they see wi-Fi networks and support a plethora doesn’t necessarily get much brighter of smartphone operating systems for from there: an overwhelming majority employees’ preferred devices. (the of the respondents said they perceive spread of smartphones—whether today’s ip telephony solutions as being corporate-issued or employee-owned— at least somewhat complex, with almost for business purposes was surely on the a third regarding them as extremely or minds of the more than 40 percent of the very complex, which has post deploy- respondents who pointed out that user ment operations implications. More expectations and demands are organi- than a third said they were ready to ante zational contributors to it complexity.) up for expensive service and support Many ip telephony providers have yet to options to carry them through or have tackle tight integration of smartphones done so in the past: good news for with business pbx systems in a vendor- providers whose strategies are tied to agnostic style. increased service and support revenue but not so good for their customers. complExITy: a STEalTh paTh To vEndor lock-In complExITy vErSuS innovations in communications, from SEamlESSnESS the dawn of ip telephony to the rise of Complex ip telephony deployments smartphones, clearly bring benefits as can really hurt the overall infrastructure well as challenges, some of them natural where it—and the business—most need consequences of the evolution—and them to succeed. both groups suffer some of them given a nudge by those when complexity undermines maximizing looking to profit from them. this can lead
  • 4. white paper | it—aND ip teLephoNY: DoN’t juSt MaNaGe CoMpLexitY; it’S tiMe to beat it 4 bringing cutting-edge capabilities than they are about forcing lock-in. In your organization, which areas of IT are the biggest after all, when a unified communica- contributors to IT complexity? tions vendor doesn’t have a commit- ment to open standards and an open addressing it security and compliance 51% ecosystem, for example, its customers don’t have much choice about where to aligning technology solutions with business objectives 47% turn for hardware or other accompani- ments to an ip telephony platform. So addressing the expectations and demands of users 41% they frequently have to pay more for innovative, productivity-enhancing tech- integrating information into business processes 39% nologies, from advanced Voip gateways integrating communications/collaboration tools into business processes 37% to sophisticated switching and routing network infrastructures. integration of technology in general 36% Managing remote and mobile users 35% ThE coSTS of vEndor lock-In once locked in, users find they’re implementing unified communications successfully 19% paying a lot more than a higher up-front price for a product. they’re also adding ongoing networking-related issues 17% complexity to their infrastructures, in Moving to an ip telephony model 12% many forms. Not only do buyers have to support an increasingly diverse set of source: iDG research; base: 324 respondents technologies and deal with the lack of standards across them and conflicting proprietary technologies—the survey respondents’ topmost active culprits in business technology complexity—but they have additionally given the vendors to problems for customers that want to the power to leverage the complexity. benefit from advances but, depending these closed systems lock them into a 60% on how vendors implement these capa- bilities, wind up facing higher costs, codependent relationship. More than a third of the respondents see a locked-in of respondents claim forfeiting access to external options relationship in itself as an active contrib- and dealing with increasingly byzantine utor to business technology complexity. vendors are not doing systems as a result. enough to reduce Ip it’s not surprising that 35 percent recog- one survey respondent sadly summed nize that vendors across the technologytelephony complexity, and up the dilemma many it pros face: they spectrum aren’t making a sufficient look forward to innovations that should effort to simplify their solutions. why 58% claim that vendors alleviate issues—which should enable would they, when they can use that built- are driven by other them to push the envelope in terms of in complexity to generate revenue from where they can take the business. but services and support (a cause of busi-interests preventing them the products so often born of those ness technology complexity identified byfrom reducing complexity. innovations ultimately only generate 32 percent of the respondents) and win greater complexity. market share with a very narrow focus on their own solutions (according to 28 why does it leadership often view percent of the survey takers)? complexity, wherever it turns up, as a vendor-created—or at least vendor- in the ip telephony arena, intentional abetted—problem? on the surface, it’s complexity will surely take its toll in about issues such as vendors’ pushing many areas, including roi. about a ahead with their own proprietary tech- third of the respondents said they nology, often in the guise of having expected to see or have seen that it is to meet users’ pressing demands for hard for users to take full advantage new capabilities far sooner than the of such solutions—unsurprising, given standards committees would allow. that a quarter of them complained increasingly, it leaders suspect that about a lengthy user learning curve. it’s those choices may be less about clear that until users are fully familiar
  • 5. white paper | it—aND ip teLephoNY: DoN’t juSt MaNaGe CoMpLexitY; it’S tiMe to beat it 5 with the ins and outs of particularly several things into account. answers complex ip telephony solutions, they from survey participants who have faced 65% won’t be able to completely leverage unified communications—not on or are in the process of confronting these issues point to the following practical desktop phones and certainly not on guidelines about what to avoid and what believe that smartphones. however, it’s not just end to embrace in an ip telephony solution: bolted-together users who have to get over that hump. among the respondents, 32 percent said 4 Ip telephony complexity occurs technologies are a the learning curve for administrators is chiefly when some leading vendors major contributor to also steep. bolt together many different tech- nologies, hoping they will add up to a Ip telephony cohesive whole, said 65 percent of the complexity today. forEWarnEd IS forEarmEd: respondents. they’re right: that’s usually complExITy IS avoIdaBlE an approach that just doesn’t work, not it leaders have legitimate concerns about for ip telephony—or for any other it complexity that impedes administration, solution, for that matter. instead, look to 57% raises costs (due to factors such as labor- intensive integrations) and limits the systems purpose-built from the ground up as native ip telephony solutions toof respondents claim that usefulness of ip telephony and unified avoid the difficulties that arise when communications solutions. everything vendors patch together an array of prod-complexity is responsible from mashed-up combinations of organic ucts, usually from different acquisitions. and acquired technology to closedfor most of the operating solutions plays a role in such fiascoes. 4 Modifying cumbersome legacy tech-and maintenance cost of nology to support modern ip telephony but there are ways to avoid complexity in demands is not a route to success. Ip telephony today. the process and aftermath of deploying Nearly 60 percent of the respondents a Voip infrastructure if it buyers take blamed complexity in ip telephony on Which of the following have you experienced or do you expect to experience with Ip telephony solutions? inability to implement without vendor assistance 41% expensive vendor service and support 38% business process integration challenges 37% Lengthy learning curve for administrators 32% Need for significant support resources 30% Difficulty for users to get the most out of the solution 28% expensive operating and maintenance costs 26% Lengthy learning curve for users 24% Downtime during installation 23% Complex management and administration protocols 22% problems stemming from not being a truly native ip solution 22% Difficulty of scaling a given solution up or down 15% Cumbersomeness of doing MaCs (moves, adds and changes) 14% source: iDG research; base: 324 respondents
  • 6. white paper | it—aND ip teLephoNY: DoN’t juSt MaNaGe CoMpLexitY; it’S tiMe to beat it 6 point of failure. automatic pickup of call please rate your level of agreement with the processing loads as a backup can lend a following statements. hand too. Nearly 60 percent of the survey respon- Some of the leading ip telephony solutions today are complex because they consist of many different technologies bolted together 65% dents said native Ip, appliance-based solutions that enable reliability as ip telephony vendors are not doing enough to reduce the complexity well as scalability features would be 60% very or extremely relevant to their that characterizes many of their solutions organizations. Complexity could be eliminated from ip telephony solutions, but 58% vendors are driven by other interests that discourage this 4 Given the concerns evident in the survey about long ip telephony learning Some of the ip telephony solutions today are complex because curves for administrators and users alike, they are older traditional tDM solutions that have only been 58% complex management and administration enabled for an ip platform protocols (a factor for almost a quarter of Complexity is responsible for many of the overall operating and the respondents), business process inte- maintenance costs of ip telephony 57% gration challenges and difficulty in real- izing the most value from a deployment, Complexity is unavoidable in ip telephony solutions, because it is solutions that smash complexity on all inherent in the technology/process 39% these fronts will be critical. Solving the problem of complexity in ip telephony solutions is likely what’s important for enabling ease of to come from a new provider rather than from one of the leading 37% use in ip telephony and unified commu- vendors today nications deployments? For administra- source: iDG research; base: 324 respondents tors, how about providing the ability to manage an entire phone system centrally from a single browser- based interface, from anywhere on vendors’ attempts to enable older, tradi- the network? For end users, there’s tional tDM solutions for an ip platform. huge value in seamlessly enabling an 58% a voIp/unified communications solution that started out with a clean integrated environment for multimedia communications, enterprise applica-claim that traditional Tdm slate has the advantage of being tions and personal information to designed to support ease of use for accelerate collaboration. and prebuilt solutions that are only IT and the business, not the vendor’s tight integration with core CrM andIp-enabled (instead of real desire to continue growing revenue from accounting business processes helps outdated technology. too—as does support for open applica-purpose-built Ip solutions) tion programming interfaces that enable are a main reason for Ip 4 Server-based solutions don’t seam- customers to create their own connec- lessly address modular scalability tions between applications and business telephony complexity. concerns of companies, especially those communications systems. positioning themselves for rapid growth. what will reduce complexity for scale- 4 just as a lack of standards across up requirements is a switch-based technologies is perceived as one of appliance platform and a distributed the foremost contributors to busi- software architecture that makes ness technology complexity, standards each switch and site an independent adherence has a large lead among the call processor capable of supporting steps companies are taking to reduce thousands of ports. it complexity in general, according to the survey. open Voip architectures that 4 appliances also rule over server-based account for industry-supported open solutions when it comes to that vaunted standards such as Sip (for multimedia dial-tone reliability so characteristic of communication session setup and termi- pStN. Not only do you avoid the moving- nation) support ease of integration with parts peril of server-based solutions that ip-standard phones. Standards support can complicate uptime requirements is equally important for no-complications but completely distributed intelligence integration with networking switches across voice switches avoids any single and routers from many leading vendors,
  • 7. white paper | it—aND ip teLephoNY: DoN’t juSt MaNaGe CoMpLexitY; it’S tiMe to beat it 7 avoiding costs attributable to proprietary solutions that demand network infra-know the signs of high total cost of ownership and a structure upgrades.highly complex Ip telephony system, and avoid them: 4 these days complexity—and costs— can bedevil efforts to integrate ip-based high low unified communications across cellular complexity/ complexity/ and wi-Fi wireless networks. both can high Tco low Tco be avoided if the Voip vendor offers a way to accommodate smartphonesServer-based system 3 in a business’s heterogeneous ip pbxAppliance-based system 3 systems. clearing that hurdle means that roaming employees can takePurpose-built, native IP solution 3 advantage of features such as pres- ence and location on their mobileIP-enabled traditional TDM solution 3 phones when they need to contact colleagues. More importantly, it meansInclusion of disparate technologies 3 that clients don’t have to dial three different numbers before they can reachOpen architecture for seamless integrationof all business applications and processes 3 an employee who’s away from the desk.Proprietary platform 3 alIgnIng communIcaTIonS WITh BuSInESS procESSESPure IP telephony focus 3 ip telephony offerings that provide these qualities promise to take a big biteVendor-agnostic integration withsmartphones 3 out of users’ concerns about investing in expensive support and serviceDistributed software architecture 3 options to deal with the complexities of deploying and operating these systems.No single point of failure: N+1 reliability 3 as one survey respondent said of appliance-based, purpose-built, native ip telephony solutions, benefits should alsoSingle intuitive Web-based managementinterface 3 include fewer system outages and easier troubleshooting—both important forMultiple management interfaces andprotocols 3 minimizing service and support costs. rather than paying dearly for service andModular scalability 3 support, it can invest those dollars and staff time in making their Voip invest-Forklift upgrades to scale 3 ments pay off by strategically aligning communications with business processes.High reliance on vendor support 3 that must happen if employees—whether onsite or mobile—are to realize the fullsource: Shoretel inc., 2010 potential of ip telephony. n To find out more about how ShoreTel can support your Ip telephony needs, please visit www.shoretel.com.

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