Unified Communications: Guts & Bolts (video) - InformationWeek
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9/28/2009
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Unified Communications: Guts & Bolts (video)

A common theme heard these days among enterprise architects is the increasing need to bring together network designers, application architects and information security teams for any sizable project, and that includes unified communications, especially because those communications often involve customers, not to mention many more parts and pieces.

A common theme heard these days among enterprise architects is the increasing need to bring together network designers, application architects and information security teams for any sizable project, and that includes unified communications, especially because those communications often involve customers, not to mention many more parts and pieces.You can see how some of this needs to come together by watching Part 3 of our Whiteboard Tutorial series on Unified Communications in the video below.

The multi-party approach to designing applications isn't new, of course, but many companies are still peeling off the bandages from projects built in silos. The problem with unified communications is that it touches an ever-growing number of software components and impacts a heftier number of people (notably, the voice group).

As our video host, Michael Healey points out, not only do you have the voice system (IP PBX), you've got e-mail, instant messaging, collaboration environments and video, just to name a few applications. With technology available to do multipoint video from a desktop, you've got to worry about managing quality of service on the network. This involves not only the capabilities of the video server, but the scalability of your VLAN architecture. Virtualization can also have an impact.

But that's just at the technology level (and we haven't even talked about the desktop -- Mike does touch on this point in his tutorial), because even though your existing architecture may support all of this in theory, it's the execution that counts (remember the bandages), and that requires some testing. Because one thing is clear: communications has never been just an internal process, and the technologies available to us today insist that we extend those communications to our partners and customers, and it had better damn well work, and work well.

This is all magnified if you move much of this to the cloud. Mike talks about a healthcare provider who decided to do all of its communication with customers in the cloud, and established WAN optimization controls and technology at each customer location, and created a failover mechanism to boot.

We'll continue this series over the course of this week. As always, if you're interested in diving head first into this topic, please check out VoiceCon, Nov 2 - 5 in San Francisco.

Fritz Nelson is an Executive Editor at InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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