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What To Look For In A Unified Communications System

By Tom Minifie, AVST


When looking for a UC system, here are some things to consider:

• Even if you’re not deploying IP-telephony today, be sure that your UC solutions can work with IP-telephony when you eventually go there. Look for a UC system that can support both IP and TDM, particularly in a mixed environment. You shouldn’t have to change your switching fabric when moving to a UC system. You will want to move from your current voice mail system to UM/UC while being able to migrate to SIP when you’re ready.

• Make sure that the system lets you start with voice mail and “turn on” UC capabilities on a user-by-user basis. There is no reason for you to have to deploy all UC capabilities to your entire user community. Not every user has the same need for UC so you shouldn’t have to pay for or support UC for every user.

• The ability to support multiple switches will ensure that you don’t get locked in to a single vendor as you move forward with your UC and VoIP deployments. Look for a UC system that can work on a variety of switches, and even support both TDM and IP switches on the same server.

• Flexibility is a key so support for multiple e-mail or groupware systems, including Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes, and others, is a must.

• If migrating from a legacy voice mail system, look for a UC system that lets you use the same or similar user interface (both GUI and TUI) to what you’re used to. Some UC systems can replicate the user interfaces of legacy voice mail systems, eliminating the need for users to learn new commands to navigate the system. IT


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