Friday, July 4, 2008

Unified communication: a new link for business

The term "Unified Communications" appeared quite recently, but already evident: it is defining a new trend in the development of custom telecommunications. With regard to home users is already well known service Triple Play (data transmission services, voice and video on the same Carrier Networks, as an option - Multiple Play). In addition, a number of principles "unified communications" for private PC users are trying to realize the framers of the latest versions of the most popular Communicator - ICQ. As for corporate users, it is not all so simple and unambiguous. On the "unified communications" in the segment of corporate communications there is no common understanding - that they must include themselves in and what business functions to provide. But we do try to answer some questions. Namely: What benefits of "unified communications"? How do they put into practice now? As with these things in the U.S., Europe, Russia, Belarus? And start from the end.

Belarus: neopyt

Non-standard, "advanced" telecommunications solutions for businesses in Belarus are still rarely go beyond the western experience 10-15 - years ago. Previously, sometimes something interesting offering Internet providers, then they were joined by cellular operators, but still more isolated decisions was not the case for many… Suddenly, the situation began to change national carrier "Beltelecom". "Aligned communication" from "Beltelekoma" (already named his own "Universal Mail") announced in March this year and implemented on the basis of fixed telephony. For the monopolist is indeed very convenient (especially technologically), but as for the consumer?

Well, look that spoke of "Universal mail" journalists Head of Information Technology RUP "Beltelecom" Vladimir Ptashnik. According to him, "Universal Mail" - a combination of PCs, mobile and fixed telephone line. That is, simply, "Universal Mail" gathers together information flows from different devices/communication lines and concentrating them in one universal mailbox. Then they can be redirected at virtually any device - for example, listen to messages by phone using speech synthesis technology. Universal mailbox created on the issue of fixed phone subscribers (it is understandable that his number and address of the mail there). This box becomes a hub of electronic communications (e-mail), voice messages (voice mail), fax, SMS. And, of course, incidentally provided a number of services. As a result, for example, for small and medium businesses produced noticeable savings devices and lines of communication. And all this - for a very reasonable fee. True, yet not know what the commercial prospects of the service. Just like then, how many people or organizations have already become subscribers of "Universal Mail".

Looking from the West

In the West, "uniform communication" refers to several different. There, they are in full compliance with the laws of the market appeared at a time when the number of communications surrounding sideltsa office, has become a truly great. This stationary phone / fax, cellular (several times), Wi-Fi-device (and in the future - and WiMAX), electronic and voice mail on the desktop or notebook PC, Skype, IM-many applications… In doing so, in most cases it will start the communication and ensure the development of most business processes in the company. As specialists say, the idea of unified communications for the first time in its current understanding translated into concrete products in 2006. It was then that the market appeared platform Cisco Unified Communications, which brings together business applications, mobile solutions, IP-telephony and other communication devices. New immediately became fashionable, and the "unified communications" - mainly trend telecommunications industry. After a few months, Microsoft announced the plan to develop products in this new market segment. Already on the market later appeared platform Microsoft Unified Communications - the offspring of companies Nortel and CIFT. Initially, analysts were expecting tough competition between IT-giants. But the market was so great that industry leaders chose not to start competition, and conclude an agreement on strategic partnership. Now all the products produced by Cisco, mutually integrated with Microsoft applications and Apple Macintosh. The nearest plans of corporations - further integration of its systems "unified communications". The point is that, apart from large corporations to create platforms for "unified communications" work and other companies pomelche (among them - China's Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE). But leadership is still firmly holding the pioneers: Cisco in an alliance with IBM and Microsoft.

Savings, or much more for the same money

But why suddenly "unified communications" have become so vostrebovanny in business? The easiest (at first glance) answer: not spent easier for dial-up or posting to all available modes of communication required at this time employee or business partner. For example, a subscriber, initiating the call, calls on a single number (or from a PC appeals to intrasaytu), and intellectual communication has to choose the best way to achieve the goal. There is no principled importance, if this is a corporate telephone line, mobile phone, SMS-message, e-m ail or IM-message, call on Skype… Subscriber no need to move all these options - the system will do it for them automatically. In doing so, not least, all information including voice calls are stored in the archive system and may be available a limited number of employees depending on their level of access. Overall, just what is required large corporation or a serious state structure.

The first and main buyers of "unified communications" have become a company with a geographically distributed structure. Such internal services, such as quick access to any information unit regardless of its location, the possibility of organizing a videoconference, working together with the documents - all of which combines remote offices and individual staff in a single corporate information field. Robert Eydzhi, head of Cisco Systems in Russia and CIS countries, so the situation commented: "The use of unified communications that can achieve geographical independence, to integrate communications with business processes, streamline operations and increase productivity and profitability of business. Services unified communications create the preconditions for increasing the productivity of each employee company. I get the opportunity to accelerate decision-making processes and enter new markets, and optimize work together in virtual working groups ". Many experts consider the "unified communications" as a new phase in the evolution of IP-communications. Indeed, in ongoing projects currently used technologies such as Session Initiation Protocol, monitoring presence, as well as mobile solutions to simplify and unify all forms of communication irrespective of the place, time or device. The link between users may be exercised by any means, regardless of access devices used. This can be fixed, Internet, cable, satellite, mobile networks.

For example, according to research Yankee Group, the introduction of the enterprise (if the company has branches and offices) alone IP-telephony may give up to 40% savings in TCO annually. And according to the Accenture company lowered the cost of operation by 20-40% due to cheap voice network and reduce costs related to the support of two independent data and voice networks. According to the company Cisco, in the use of corporate IP-telephony cost of internal calls can be reduced virtually to zero, and the cost of external reduced to 10% of the original. While this is certainly exaggerated - in life inevitably encounter any obstacles, entailing additional costs. An important feature of "unified communications" - function display presence (Presence). With the help of Presence all staff at any given time could know on the spot whether the other officer, and on what channels available. In addition, any subscriber can set the preferred type of connection - for example, via mobile phone or laptop. The system is the wish of the subscriber may also carry sorting incoming calls - for example, make a list of trusted subscribers (on the principle of "always available") and/or "black list". Those and other sorts as for any of the existing modes of communication. In general, imagine the imagination of developers, multiplied by fantasy users. Naturally (and this is what usually started developers), a network of technology-"unified communications" provide an opportunity to organize as ordinary voice conference or a conference with expanded opportunities ranging from communications and video-finishing joint work on documents. Multimedia meeting in real time convenient especially when dealing with branches and employees working remotely.

View from Russia

The Russian market "unified communications" are just at the beginning of its filling. So far, it did almost the only serious player of international class - the company Cisco Systems. Among the major Russian clients - different call-centres, as well as companies and banks with extensive network of branches.

The Russian representation of Cisco Systems, promoting technology "unified communications", are some examples. One such example in which the Unified Communications technology from Cisco Systems was chosen as the basis of technical solutions, became a project to build a unified information network for large industrial enterprises. As businesses become necessary to introduce advanced technological solutions for organizing the transport network and the modernization of telephone network with the subsequent merger of these structures in the overall environment. At the time of a problem the company consisted of nine individual sites. The main objectives of modernization, ozvuchennye customer, were to help manage production and business processes in general, to protect confidential data, connect mobile users and reduce transaction costs to support the information structure. The implementation of the project began with what engineers Cisco partner in Russia jointly with T-specialists I had a technical audit of the available information structure. Based on data obtained and analyzed the goals, specialists partner Cisco offered a technical solution, and then spent a full cycle of building a turnkey network. Key also became the following points. First, specially for this company has developed a mobile configuration, which allows you to quickly provide high-quality and reliable communications between the four mobile offices and headquarters.

This allows the top managers of companies to contact any of the holding company, in whatever remote location they are. Secondly, the management of all modernized network is made from the headquarters company - there is no need to tehpersonala content on sites that markedly reduces transaction costs. As the company has distributed structure, the customer has put forward tough conditions in the area informbezopasnosti. Artists had to use the equipment Cisco Systems, which can ensure the protection of confidential information transmitted on the open (leased) channels through encryption algorithms DES, 3DES or AES. Realized exchange solution allows normal traffic, to voice and video, and also supports video-link in the mode of "point-to-point". In another notable project, which was often told in the Russian representation of Cisco Systems, to all the above were added support for Wi-Fi, technology Dense Multipoint, enforcing politician quality of service (QoS) as well as VPN network infrastructure company's main office. To ensure communication officers who are "under review", the technology used SSL VPN, which allows employees to connect to the network from anywhere in the world without the use preinstalled client software. Mobile employees enjoy the same data transmission services, IP-telephony, video conferencing, as in their workplace. In addition, it was originally provided for the further expansion and modernization of the corporate network. Sam order provides for the creation of a single multiservice network for data transmission, voice and video into one large construction company. But examples introduction of the "unified communications" - is the prerogative of wealthy companies. True, there are already cases where technology Unified Communications (both in Russia and in Belarus) try to introduce a host of small and medium enterprise business. And, of course, pay as little as possible or even do their own IT-services professionals. With this goes, to provide easy. Earnings before ridiculous. But this is quite another story...

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