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Unified Communications Magazine May 2008
Volume 1 / Number 6
Unified Communications Magazine
Peter Saint-Andre

CommuniGate “Rightsizes” Unified Communications for the Normal “Everyday Business”

CommuniGate Systems (www.communigate.com) is a company famous for its powerful multi-tenant Unified Communications (UC) platform (CommuniGate Pro) enabling network operators, service providers and enterprises to provide services such as a Messaging Suite, Mobility Suite, Web 2.0 Suite, VoIP Suite, or customized applications. Another awesome innovation of theirs is the Rich Media UC dashboard called Pronto! which can be delivered through any Flash-enabled browser. Pronto! Allows you to deliver a wide range of applications such as integrated email, calendaring, contacts management, secure IM, presence, voicemail management, VoIP phone, RSS Feeds and management, plus (if that were not enough), media delivery with applications such as MyPhotos, MyVideos, MyMusic, etc.

 
By Richard “Zippy” Grigonis

CommuniGate Systems’ Jon Doyle, Vice President of Business Development, says, “Small and Medium-Sized Businesses [SMBs] need to ‘rightsize’ their technology investments and reduce complexity and UC hosted services can do that. A ten-person company can’t be expected to buy a massive UC suite or IP-PBX like a bank or 10,000 person companies can. That does not mean they are left out in the cold, or relegated to inferior technologies. So, how do they get their hands on unified communications without spending lots of money on an ‘overkill’ system? They should have access to high quality technology. How can they do this? They must look to hosted solutions where software is a service, the so-called SaaS [Software as a Service]”. “It’s just like paying $60 a month for Salesforce.com,” says Doyle. “Instead of spending half a million dollars to install Oracle servers, middleware and applications software on your premises, you can now buy good technology without making the enormous capital expenditure normally necessary to deal with the maintenance, ongoing modifications and upgrades of a big solution.”

SMBs should keep several things in mind when searching for a UC solution:

  • Much technology foisted on large enterprises is basically just regurgitated technology with an IP gateway, says Doyle. “It’s not really innovative or even new. Often it’s just repackaged software. Service providers can provide you with the latest in cutting edge, productivity-boosting applications. Plus the network operator can deliver Internet connectivity, PSTN termination, making the solution turn-key”
  • Small companies should be very careful in choosing technology and should ask very specific questions about the vendors, warns Doyle. “The vendor should have knowledge about their product’s code. Here in Silicon Valley, many companies release ‘dumbed-down’ technology, as I like to call it. Some entrepreneurs secure venture capital and then they’ll outsource the whole development project to another country - ‘off-shore’ they like to call it. The company that ends up with this product needs to support you, but they may not have any understanding of what it does internally, just brilliant! The vendor becomes something resembling a shell company. You see this not just in the world of software but with big companies that place their support centers ‘off-shore’ too. Many large hardware vendors and several airlines are bringing home their support centers because they don’t have visibility into the quality and control of such outsourced centers, and customer outrage and frustrations have lowered perceived service. So companies must pay attention to what type of technology they’re buying and how their vendor operates and supports that solution. Just because a company is small doesn’t mean that they have to settle for less - demand quality and reliability!”
  • Reliability and high availability are important, and that’s one of the key values of CommuniGate Pro’s technology, says Doyle. “When you select a unified communications platform, it’s paramount that your system is going to be absolutely solid and provide so-called dial-tone reliability. Messaging makes up a great deal of UC, and many companies out there in the world are long accustomed to using messaging systems suffering from a ton of downtime. Amazingly, the Radicati Group recently reported that, ‘Microsoft Exchange users (all versions) experience an average of 1.6 hours of unplanned downtime per month, and 2.4 hours of average <ITALICS>planned downtime<ITALICSEND> per month’! Now, if your company depends on UC for all types of services, be it voice, video, IM and email, should such a system be subject to that much downtime? I think not. CommuniGate Pro provides 99.999 percent uptime, meaning just seconds per year of potential downtime; couple that with a reliable hosting partner and you can run your business and not get the run-around on bad technology.”
  • A small company can often become confused. “Do they go downstream to engage small startup companies that provide UC?” asks Doyle. “Well, some of these are merely outsourcing their software development and so their platforms aren’t reliable. On the other hand, should an SMB simply adopt the technologies of big companies such as Microsoft? But as we’ve seen, the uptime ‘credibility’ of such things as Exchange isn’t that great. Indeed, it’s pretty atrocious, actually. Worse, what really is UC - four, five or more packages of software and several companies to deal with? How do you attain genuine reliability and good quality software? My conclusion is — you have to get the application delivered as a service. The provider has the infrastructure necessary to guarantee a higher level of uptime, and they have the financial wherewithal to buy the best technology to support small businesses.”

“Additionally, operators and ISPs should understand that providing UC software as a service is a compelling, even exciting, market for them to enter,” says Doyle. “It’s all about economies of scale and business opportunity, and our technology is one of the best out there to help rightsize UC in a multitenant environment for businesses.”

How an SMB Adopts Unified Communications

“SMBs should not be relegated to using open source or cheap, unreliable knock-offs of existing products,” says Doyle. “The SMB should have the same demands and access to quality applications as a large enterprise. Until now this has rested on economic considerations. To get good technology you had to spend tons of money.”

SMBs can today get the same quality of technology as is available to the large enterprise, and it can be done without a massive investment. You do it by paying for it as Software as a Service, which spreads the expenditure of the technology across many “tenants” of the system, often times providing better technology and reliability than on premises equipment.

Unified Communications Communications Magazine Table of Contents



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