60 Seconds with Empirix
Service Quality Assurance Vendor Empirix Talks UC
Empirix (News - Alert) is a leading provider of service quality assurance solutions for new IP communications. The world's largest service providers, enterprise contact centers and equipment manufacturers depend on Empirix's solutions to maintain the quality of the user experience for business-critical voice, data, video and mobile services. Unified Communications (News - Alert) Magazine recently spoke with Bob Hockman, director of product marketing at Empirix, about how the company is addressing UC.
How does what Empirix do around service quality assurance tie into the theme of unified communications?
Hockman: Unified communications is an evolving strategy that entails the integration of technology from multiple vendors. These complex unified communications systems require the enterprise to plan for proper validation of correct operation and ongoing monitoring and management as an essential piece of its quality service assurance programs. With the increasing importance of quality of real-time channels (voice and video) through multi-channel communication, Empirix relies on its long history and in-depth expertise in voice testing and monitoring, along with its 10 years of experience in multimedia, to deliver confidence with unified communication quality service assurance.
What is the key driver of UC implementations today?
Hockman: As the economy rebounds, companies are re-examining the way they do business as part of an attempt to increase efficiency, contain costs and improve their bottom lines. They are extending the life of existing resources, taking advantage of under-utilized IP-based networks to solve important business problems and working to improve their existing structures and cultures. One key way to accomplish these goals is to improve the internal and external user experience by utilizing multiple channels of communication.
What are the security issues that users and their suppliers need to consider for UC implementations?
Hockman: It might be more about vulnerability - in the UC environment it becomes more complicated. With a traditional voice only system, there is a dedicated circuit for communication. However, with data and voice sharing the same IP infrastructure, the number of places where possible vulnerabilities may reside increases drastically. For instance, a denial of service attack or oversubscribed data services can ultimately result in voice and video quality issues. Understanding traffic variances, as well as vulnerabilities, helps organizations reduce the chances of encountering issues that can affect customer satisfaction.
What quality assurance steps should those implementing UC be sure to take?
Hockman: The simple answer is: Get it right and keep it right. The proper way to get it right is accomplished by comprehensive testing in a methodical way, using a holistic approach. For instance, start by testing voice systems and use them as a baseline. Then add data and other systems, one at a time, testing each one on its own and as part of the whole. Finally, try attacking the system to ensure that security is complete. With a phased approach to end-to-end testing, as described here, organizations can identify the source of any issue in a matter of hours or days, instead of weeks, and most importantly, the issues will be discovered before they affect customers. Once all issues have been discovered and resolved, a unified communication system is ready to be taken live. It is important to remember that over time, customer needs may change and traffic may migrate to a different source (e.g., over time, a system may experience more data traffic than voice traffic). This in mind, it is critical to keep it right â€” to monitor the system continuously to ensure that no issues are experienced, as well as to understand changing customer needs. As a final note, each time an upgrade or other change is made to the system, it must again be tested to ensure that the network remains problem-free.
Call centers were early adopters of UC. What's happening with UC in the call center today?
Hockman: Unified communications is truly strengthening contact centers as they are a direct connection, and sometimes the only connection, companies have to their customers. Contact centers are quickly becoming more strategic to corporations instead of a necessary evil cost center.
How, if at all, is that trickling into the enterprise as whole?
Hockman: The contact center is an important part of the enterprise, and throughout other parts of the organization, presence and conferencing (voice, video, and Web) have more of an emphasis - and we all know how good voice conferencing is these days.
Empirix merged two business units to focus specifically on the IP contact center within the enterprise. Why?
Hockman: Our traditional contact center business is the leader when it comes to voice testing, monitoring and managed services in the contact center space. Our traditional network assurance business is strong in testing voice in the overall operational network in general and has significant expertise in the non-voice channels of communication of video, Web, chat, e-mail and other data communication. UC