GUIDE. Unified communications (UC) is a must-have in a world in which realtime 7 KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MAKING A UC PURCHASE

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1 UBM TECH BUYER S GUIDE // NOVEMBER 2013 UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS BUYER S GUIDE 7 KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MAKING A UC PURCHASE Unified communications (UC) is a must-have in a world in which realtime collaboration and multi-channel customer service are competitive necessities. That s why choosing the right UC vendor is such a strategic decision. Organizations must take particular care with their UC choice if they want to take full advantage of the cloud and ensure that their UC implementation can accommodate both current and future needs. This guide highlights seven key questions that every UC buyer should consider when choosing a UC solution and a UC partner. (See the scorecard on page 5 for an example of how to keep track of vendor capabilities.) Assessing potential solutions and buyers according to these questions will help buyers maximize near-term returns on their UC investments while safeguarding their organization s long-term communications and collaboration road map.

2 The suitability of any UC solution is contingent on how well it fits into the company s broader technology environment. 1: Does it do what I need it to do? Features and functional capabilities are basic evaluation criteria for any technology acquisition, UC included. Every organization should have a clear sense of the capabilities it requires as part of its initial implementation and any planned stages in its near-term UC plans. Most organizations require the following capabilities: Presence awareness for detecting and communicating the status of users so that people can find each other quickly and avoid playing time-wasting tag Voice/messaging integration to streamline multichannel communications and give users a single mailbox for all their messages and associated content Multimedia conferencing, so individuals and teams can effortlessly collaborate via voice and video with ready access to documents, Web pages, live desktops, whiteboards and other relevant resources Mobility support to ensure that users can stay productive on their smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices Single-number reach combining intelligent voice routing and presence, so callers can reach users wherever they are without having to try multiple numbers Hotdesking to give users the freedom to instantly create a secure, live voice-enabled workspace for themselves wherever they are In addition to these user capabilities, UC buyers should evaluate the administrative tools offered by any prospective solution. An intuitive, full-featured Web-based management interface is a must as is the ability to flexibly distribute and delegate administrative tasks across the organization, rather than requiring all such tasks to be performed at a single, centralized console. 2: Does it fit my environment? UC does not exist in a vacuum. The suitability of any UC solution for any organization is contingent on how well it fits into the company s broader technology environment. Key factors to consider in regard to this fit include: Full ability to leverage virtualization. As IT organizations continue to expand their use of server virtualization, it s increasingly important for UC solutions to work well on their virtualization platform which is typically VMware. Some UC solutions are only capable of running certain applications (such as messaging) on VMware server instances. This undermines IT s ability to capitalize on virtualization s many advantages, such as adaptive capacity allocation and disaster recovery. That s why it s important to choose a UC solution that can leverage VMware across the board including for such critical functions as voice call control and that integrates well with VMware management tools. Vendor-agnostic LAN/WAN infrastructure. Some UC vendors specify their own network infrastructure stack as either a requirement for implementation or a preferred choice. This can be problematic in two ways. First, it can mean a forklift overhaul for organizations that currently use network and/or call control gear from another vendor. Second, it can lead to counterproductive vendor lockin in the long term. Open architecture is a much better choice when it comes to both initial implementation and long-term flexibility. Standards support. The right UC solution will provide embedded native support for communications standards such as SIP, QSIG and DPNSS. This standards support optimizes the ability of organizations to protect existing investments including legacy PBXes while also giving them optimized access to all the advantages of converged infrastructure. Application integration. Knowledge workers will typically use UC in conjunction with their other primary productivity tools. Organizations will therefore get maximum value out of their investment if their UC solution works well with popular personal productivity applications such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Lync as well as increasingly appealing alternatives such as Google Apps. 3: How much will it really cost? While the magnitude of the business value UC delivers is well documented, optimized return on investment (ROI) for any UC implementation is also contingent on keeping the I under control. So UC adopters need to factor the total cost of ownership (TCO) over some reasonable period say, five years into their buying decision. Important points to consider when evaluating TCO include: CapEx discounting. UC vendors often try to shift attention away from the true long-term TCO of their solutions by deeply discounting up-front CapEx costs. Buyers should // 2 //

3 Organizations don t remain static. As a result, their UC environment has to grow and evolve accordingly. use caution when considering these front-end discounts because they rarely make up for the higher ownership costs that will be incurred during the useful lifetime of the solution components. Licensing complexity and redundancy. Because UC deployments entail the implementation of multiple types of functionality, vendor licensing schemes can quickly become complex. This complexity can significantly add to TCO directly (by resulting in the costly purchase of multiple redundant/overlapping licenses) and indirectly (by adding to administrative burdens). Buyers should carefully examine UC vendor licensing schemes to make sure that they won t generate excessive expense as users, capabilities, capacity, sites and other factors change. Independent validation. UC buyers often struggle to accurately project TCO for different vendors solutions because so many factors affect TCO calculations. That s why it s useful to refer to an independent resource such as UCStrategies, which offers expert insight into UC TCO at 4: Will it scale? Organizations don t remain static. They add employees and contractors. They gain customers. They add locations and acquire other businesses. They handle more projects and share more content with a growing ecosystem of partners and suppliers. As a result, their UC environment has to grow and evolve accordingly. Key considerations in evaluating the scalability of a UC implementation include: Scalability, or in some cases overselling. Some vendors provide what they call scalability by simply selling customers more solution than they really need. This practice adds cost to UC implementations prematurely. True UC scalability allows an implementation to be right-sized for present needs while providing an incremental and nondisruptive growth path to any future capacity requirements. Hardware sprawl. Inefficiencies in the design of some UC architectures result in the need to add an inordinate amount of hardware to support expanding implementations. This hardware sprawl can also drive up ancillary data center costs, including power, cooling and floor space. 5: What about the cloud? Regardless of what position an organization may take on it today, cloud computing will inevitably play a major role in IT operations. Cloud computing offers on-demand access to resources under an attractive subscription model and enables IT to better focus its limited resources on particularly strategic projects and initiatives. Several factors determine how well a UC solution aligns with an organization s cloud strategy: Flexibility regarding cloud models. Cloud computing is actually a set of several provisioning models, including private on-premises, private hosted, public and hybrid options, that organizations use in different cases for different reasons. The right UC solution will offer the flexibility to mix and match these models as necessary to fulfill changing cost, capacity and compliance requirements. A common solution across all models. Some UC vendors claim to support multiple UC provisioning models but each model is actually supported by an entirely different product. To gain the flexibility to move between models as requirements change over time, choose a UC solution that uses a single, common code base across both conventional and cloud provisioning models. This commonality avoids the costs and disruptions associated with reconfiguration, retraining and other issues that arise when switching between different UC products from the same vendor. Migration support. No organization can afford an interruption in its critical collaboration and communications capabilities during a migration to the cloud. That s why it s important to choose a UC solution that facilitates migration for example, by allowing conventional and cloud resources to run in parallel and by automating replication of administrative parameters. 6: Can I optimize my contact center? Contact centers are a particularly high-value component of UC environments. Customer experience is a key competitive differentiator and plays a pivotal role in business performance by helping optimize customer satisfaction and retention. Contact center attributes to consider when evaluating a UC solution include: // 3 //

4 UC adopters need to factor the total cost of ownership (TCO) over a reasonable period say, five years into their buying decision. Routing, reporting and other functionality. While contact center technology has much in common with UC, it also has its own specialized requirements. Not all UC vendors deliver equally on those requirements. Evaluating how well a UC solution addresses important contact center issues such as skills-based routing, real-time and historical reporting and multi-channel interactions is particularly important. Upgrade options. Some UC vendors contact center solutions require massive infrastructure overhauls ( forklift upgrades) that can be prohibitively expensive. A solution that doesn t require such overhauls will be less costly in the short run and offer more flexibility in the long run. UC/contact center integration. Remarkably, some vendors offer UC and contact center solutions that do not work together but are completely separate products. One vendor, for example, does not support its contact center solution in its virtualized UC environment. Avoiding this kind of fragmented approach to enterprise communication simplifies the infrastructure. Thin client/vdi support. Contact centers are turning to thin-client and VDI architectures to ensure their ability to flexibly add agent seats where and when they re needed. Support for these architectures is essential for delivering requisite UC functionality to agents in these kinds of on-demand environments. UC buyers should also ensure that the contact center solution they are considering can scale to an appropriate number of users. Some vendors solutions are limited to 100 seats or less. 7: Whose long-term strategy can I trust? One item that organizations sometimes fail to consider is the industry leadership and vision of the vendor. This factor is easy to overlook in the midst of an intensive effort to ensure that the product does the right job for the right price. But vision matters when it comes to UC. The nature of enterprise collaboration and IP/Web-based communication continues to evolve; companies that pick the wrong partner are likely to get left behind in the coming years. A solution from a vendor with an established track record of innovation and commitment to ongoing investment in R&D especially in areas such as virtualization, cloud and multimedia collaboration will be most likely to handle your changing needs capably over time. Use the weighted scorecard on page 5 to evaluate UC vendors. ABOUT MITEL: Mitel (Nasdaq:MITL) (TSX:MNW) is a global provider of unified communications and collaboration (UCC) software, solutions and services that enable organizations to conduct business anywhere, over any medium, with the device of their choice. Through a single cloud-ready software stream, Mitel s Freedom architecture provides customers in over 100 countries the flexibility and simplicity needed to support today s dynamic work environment. For more information, visit UBM LLC. All rights reserved. // 4 //

5 UC Buyer s Guide: Weighted Scorecard Multiply the score for each category (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest) by the weight to fill in the extension column. Add the values in the extension column to determine the total score. Fill out a scorecard (or customize a version to reflect your priorities) for each solution under consideration. Use Cases CRITERIA SCORE WEIGHT EXTENSION FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS Presence Voice/messaging integration Multimedia conferencing Mobility support Single-number reach Hotdesking ENVIRONMENTAL FIT Leverages VMware (incl. mgmt. tools) Vendor-agnostic infrastructure Standards support Application integration TCO Lifetime CapEx/OpEx Licensing Independent validation SCALABILITY Overselling Hardware sprawl CLOUD-READINESS Support for multiple models Common solution Migration support CONTACT CENTER Features and functions UC integration Thin-client/VDI support No forklift upgrades VENDOR VISION/LEADERSHIP TOTAL SCORE: // 5 //

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