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November 26, 2007

Communicado Helping Companies Navigate the Evolving Communications Environment

By Tim Gray, TMCnet Web Editor


I recently had the opportunity to ask Kerry Shih (News - Alert), founder and chief strategist for Communicado, about the evolution of managing converged voice/data communications networks, his User Bill of Rights document and the direction his company is taking.

Communicado (News - Alert) says it has built on the experience gained with its award-winning VXTracker product to solve the problem of guaranteeing service levels for unified communications through its Streamline Managed Services Platform.

Streamline is available as part of the first franchised service management offering that enables MSPs with the technology and services ecosystem they need to remove availability and continuity risks for real-time business communications.

To get some more background the company, read this TMCnet article.

Please outline your new corporate initiatives.

We’re getting a very positive response to Streamline, our Management as a Service platform. Crytycal Services Management is using it to power their advanced Managed Services offerings to its service providers and large carrier customers.

How does Communicado help companies deal with the ever-changing communications environment?

The idea is make sure companies enjoy all the benefits of VoIP and unified communications without the IT management pain. Instead of having to buy three kinds of specialized management tools, get up to speed on them only to find they don’t really correlate the end-to-end issues, and add hard-to-find IP telephony expertise to their staff, companies can get guaranteed service levels for an easy-to-budget-for monthly fee from one of our Streamline franchisees. These partners of ours do nothing but manage converged communications. They keep up with managing the latest innovation goodness in a way a small, fully-booked IT staff couldn’t. And our platform approach means we’re continually adding capabilities to the Streamline ecosystem. Need communications continuity? Talk to us or one of our “streamlined” partners about when they can get you set up with replication of your communications infrastructure configuration data, even establish a virtualized failover environment so you can come back very quickly should a catastrophic failure occur.

What specific pains does your company solve for customers?

We learned a lot managing more than 1000 sites for our 400 existing customers. Based on their needs, we developed everything from assessment of an infrastructure’s readiness for VoIP to something we call Granted Access. No one wants to set up an all-in VPN for service providers. Granted Access lets end-user organizations provide permission for the particular level of access needed to manage gear and fix issues without any changes to their firewall. If you look at Streamline, you’ll find dozens of similar innovations. Our mission is to make sure the people in organizations can focus on executing their business processes more efficiently, rather than defocusing as they learn how to manage ever-more-complicated IP telephony plumbing themselves.

How has SIP changed communications?

SIP has made interoperability a reality, which is a win for customers. However, this only accelerates multi-vendor, disparate environments, and this interoperability will be heavily stressed by Unified Communications (News - Alert).

What do you think the future holds for telecom managers and IT support personnel in this space?

The bottom line impact of Unified Communications is so compelling they are going to be driven to support it by the head of sales and your COO. Users will start using pieces of it whether you like it or not. Some of it is already built into Microsoft Office, and Avaya and Cisco (News - Alert) and others should see their Unified Communications ships rise too with the Microsoft tide. Once users are able to double click on an email and start a real-time video conference with everyone who’s copied, well, your IP infrastructure is either going to be up to it or your help desk phones are going to start ringing ... and thank goodness for presence and chat in case all Level 1 support can hear is white noise.

How is Communicado helping telecom managers and IT support personnel manage their converged infrastructure?

We tried to get all of that into a one-two punch: The Use Bill of Rights, and a Management as a Service platform that helps Managed Service Providers either satisfy all the needs it defines or has them taken care of in near-term roadmap.

Please tell our readers about the User Bill of Rights and how you first become involved developing it.

It was clear from taking to our customers, our partners, and analysts that there was an appetite for the benefits of unified communications that the industry was not going to be able to satisfy unless there was a clear statement of what users had a right to expect. A telephone should just work. Even if it’s a telephone that depends on processes running in your server room that link across the Carrier cloud into another IP network and server room altogether. Without making a company spend 60k on software and hiring a 100k guy to manage it.

We wrote it down, more as a road map at first of what we wanted to provide, but it became clear that it set a bar for what users absolutely needed. The industry needed it too if we were going to fulfill all the promises we were making. So we put it out there for people to help us to continue to shape it.

What’s next for managed communications?

The next 20 years of build-out of IT infrastructures is going to be driven by real-time person-to-person communications and collaboration. Our biggest challenge will be making sure it all works as well as the telephone alone did.






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