VOSS Solutions

A look back on BCOM systems, in advance of tomorrow's panel session

Tags: BCOM, Cisco, Microsoft Permalink

Mike Frayne, CEO, VOSS Solutions

What a great show Enterprise Connect has been so far.

The VOSS booth has been buzzing with visitors who stopped by to find out more about our Microsoft UC management capability and our recently announced Single Point of Integration.

One final task of the show is the "Managing Communications in a Changing Environment" panel debate that VOSS is taking part in, on Thursday at 10.30am. During the session, the group will explore how UC management is evolving. VOSS has been supporting enterprise customers and their BCOM requirements for over 10 years, so for us, the question we always make sure we are addressing is: "what's new in UC that's changing management".

And it’s been a fascinating journey.

Phase 1 BCOM (business communications operations management) systems were in response to the "engineering syndrome" – the features in telephony systems were created by engineers and best understood by engineers, hence usability was not a strong factor. The initial BCOM systems sought to deliver greater usability by overlaying the technical features with easier to use front end systems.

Phase 2 BCOM systems were developed in the early 2000s with IP telephony and the shift from TDM. IPT voice is significantly more complex than TDM voice, so business communications management solutions evolved to reduce some of this complexity by managing many of the network infrastructure components now required to deliver telephony.

Phase 3 BCOM systems changed again in the mid 2000s as IPT became unified communications. This introduced more complexity at the application layer with more advanced voice features, new applications such as IM and Presence, video conferencing and so on and the need to integrate these as much as possible and provide a more user-centric model - one-user to many services.

From a BCOM perspective we have seen a major shift towards "service profiling" to optimize the most effective adoption of UC and of course the need for big data migration tools to handle the thousands of configuration variables with advanced UC.

Phase 4 BCOM systems changes were dictated by the Teutonic shift to smart devices due to Steve Jobs impact on the handset industry that resulted in a massive move towards multiple devices per user and the emergence of BYOD. Couple this with the emergence of video and video enabled devices. So from a BCOM perspective, we now have a new range of highly advanced soft phones in Cisco Jabber and Office Communicator (Skype-4-Business client), plus managing SIP URIs, rather than pure number management. And around the same time, we saw two major structural changes at the network level. There was a major shift away from gateways and PRIs towards central SIP trunks, which increased the complexity from a management perspective around dial plan management, and survivable remote switching.

Phase 5 BCOM systems are in response to multiple deployment models – the traditional on premise scenario has been replaced with cloud offerings and the more complex hybrid deployment model where some infrastructure and some applications could be in the cloud while others may be on premise. There has been a mass market entry of cloud providers, driven by the virtualization of the datacenter and the huge cost benefits of centralizing call control (with the heavy requirements for management around multi-tenant capabilities, scale, security and usability).

At the same time, we have seen end users gain much greater power and the power of the IT team diminish, which is really interesting for management, because it means that secure remote access to the central platforms has become really important, along with a move to end user "self-service", rather than basic self-care.

So what has happened in the last year and what's happening in the coming year?

There are three major trends that we are seeing:

  1. The emergence of WebRTC and the pure API players and how this merges with the Enterprise is very interesting. Organizations are still working out how WebRTC will integrate with the internal UC system and VOSS is very focused in this area, especially as it impacts organization workflow. In fact we are seeing a major shift in organizations linking communications with their business processes. From a management perspective, this is driving much more demand to be able to customize operational processes and modify workflow and event triggering.
  2. The integration of UC with the organization's IT systems, is the second trend; such as:
    1. HR systems
    2. Telecom Expense Management
    3. Ticketing systems
    4. AD Integration for Single Sign On
    5. And a much bigger focus on reporting and analytics

      From a management perspective, it's all about providing a single point of integration between "UC and IT".
  3. Finally, hybrid cloud services – with the emergence of Cisco Spark, Microsoft Office365, cloud-based video rooms, and a myriad of third party applications, companies are no longer going to have the option of buying a UC appliance. The ONLY way to access these new applications will be from the cloud, and so from a management perspective, VOSS is very focused on being able to not only support these new applications, but also most importantly, provide a single "service profile" management capability, regardless of whether the applications are on-premise or in the cloud and obviously, regardless of vendor.

When you look at the historic pace of change and the fact that this pace is not getting any slower, it's no wonder that the interest levels in UC management is also growing exponentially!

I hope you get the chance to attend the panel session on Thursday at 10am.