Why Architecture Matters

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1 Unified Communications Why Architecture Matters A UCStrategies White Paper sponsored by ezuce October 2014 Copyright ezuce 2014, all rights reserved

2 Why Architecture Matters Unified Communications (UC) solutions come from a number of vendors and different implementations. While there are other ways of evaluating a UC solution, the architecture of the platform is a critical component to consider in the overall decision. While it may not be obvious to the uninitiated, the architecture of the platform has a huge, potentially even the most significant, impact on the platforms ability to meet needs today and into the future. In a world where business communications needs are constantly evolving, a flexible and modern architecture is even more important. Architecture defines how the elements of a solution come together, how well the solution can integrate with other systems in the IT organization, how quickly new functionality can be integrated as well as how the overall system is tested and validated. The right architecture can accelerate new functionality and capabilities. The wrong architecture can slow innovation as well increase the likelihood that new releases have a challenging roll-out. Modern Architectural Considerations With modern programming such as Java, Javascript, Ruby on Rails, etc. it is possible to write software in ways that were unheard of just 10 years ago, let alone 20 or 30 years ago. The inclusion of next generation interfaces that are Representational State Transfer (REST) based enables systems to be even more modularized and have interfaces that are easily used by other applications. This is the key to new implementations like mash-ups. The result of this evolution in programming is that modern applications are much less focused on compute resources and much more focused on having an environment where new capabilities can be rapidly developed. The modular structure of the architecture enables new functionality to be delivered on an ongoing basis. This leads to advanced development management techniques like Agile Development and rapid development sprints lasting just a few days. Impact of Architectural History Many products in the UC space are based on core platforms that were developed 15, 20 or even 30 or more years ago. These platforms, by their original design, were based on limitations and programming techniques that would not be chosen today. A key tenant of the next generation architecture is the capability to integrate new development techniques, take advantage of new delivery mechanisms like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and enable rapid innovation. Another tenant of past architectures was that each system stood alone and controlled call control. The entire premise of communications was a set of independent end nodes that controlled 2

3 communications for a set of points and integrated to other systems using traditional telephony interfaces. This has become a major challenge as we move into the current stage of the industry and will become even more problematic in the future. In most organizations, there are now multiple systems that are either designed to or need to manage communications. This creates a major issue if each system requires a stand-alone singular control of the endpoints. The challenge is to deliver an architecture that will enable multiple call control entities to both exist and to become integrated. This concept of multiplicity is being accelerated by the emergence of new systems like Lync that may be adopted for some of the users. It will be accelerated even further with new technologies like WebRTC and the webification of communications. In the coming model of communications that resemble the web model, the number of control points will explode. Traditional Communications Models in a Unified World The communications industry has been dominated by a PBX model for the last 35 years. The PBX model essentially created a micro-carrier for the enterprise with a set of telephony services. In addition, most of these systems were built at a point in time when the performance of the processor was very limited, so the design of the software reflected that point in time. As time has moved forward, these architectures have been adapted to new capabilities. For example, they often have SIP added on, and even services such as IM and presence. However, this creates an incredibly complicated system with multiple servers, multiple components, and a variety of interfaces. This is reflected in a number of ways in the complexity of the overall architecture and platforms. For example, the management systems and provisioning tend to be complex and challenging. Some platforms have been developed more recently, but they still are often challenged by being very telephony focused, and often are not easily integrated into other newer platforms and systems. A second communications model comes from the desktop productivity space. In this model, PC clients were designed to provide application level functions between productivity desktop users. This type of solution is very tightly integrated into a complete productivity set, but is less well suited to traditional telephony. In fact, in this environment, PSTN access is typically added as an afterthought at additional cost. And when an organization has a mixed need for both knowledge workers that use the PC productivity tool set as well as users that need basic telephony, these solutions begin to have a significant challenge. As the telephony service is added on to an architecture that is an extension of a highly PC oriented solution, it does not include many of the core telephony capabilities that are essential for a more telephony oriented solution. The challenge that is emerging is that, in this new world, communication systems and control are no longer a singularity as they were in the past. Many organizations have multiple systems and need to integrate those together to create the right communications and collaboration solutions for the users and business processes. The need is for deeper integrations and unifying communications across an organization vs. a simple suite of Unified Communications applications. Managing this new diversity of systems, devices and applications is a challenge and increases the complexity for both IT teams and end users. 3

4 Introducing the ezuce Origin Architecture In response to the challenges in today s Unified Communications and IT environment, ezuce has delivered next generation architecture, Origin. This architecture is unique in a number of ways, not least of which is that it is based on the latest in development and software technology. More importantly, the ezuce Origin architecture is designed to be interoperable in the transforming world of a multiplicity of end points. The Basic Tenants of the Origin Architecture The ezuce Origin architecture is designed around a set of key tenants to enable the system. This concept starts with enabling all of the enterprise users and devices, regardless if they are traditional telephony devices or smart personal devices. The concepts are contained in a simple 5-tenant view of the critical components. These tenants include: Pervasive Presence and communications should be pervasive across an organization. By making communications tools available to all business applications, communications can be woven into the fabric of an organization like never before. Origin is an architecture that enables a communications platform that includes both native and third party communication and collaboration applications with extensive APIs for application integration. The system is designed to enable the inclusion of a variety of third party components and modern integration and mash-up techniques. Consistent The user should not have to worry about what device they are using to communicate and they should have a consistent experience no matter which device they are using. The Origin architecture enables high availability solutions through integration with virtualization systems and deployable software, is highly scalable from small systems of less than 20 users to thousands of users and is highly manageable using advanced interfaces. The result is that Origin provides a consistent user and administrative experience. Extensible Communications should be extensible so that they can be utilized in business processes and applications that have not been communications enabled in the past. Everything about a system should be accessible through API s so that a system can participate in the new API economy. The Origin architecture is designed from the start to integrate into existing IT application stacks and infrastructures. This simplifies deployment and operations utilizing end user preferred desktop and mobile devices. Intuitive Communications should be natural for the user to utilize and easy for the information technology professional to leverage. Origin is designed to support a variety of devices with a common easy-to-use interface that users will understand and adopt. Relevant Communications should be relevant to the business needs and have relevancy to the situation a user is experiencing, i.e., the right communications at the right time. Origin enables a range of communications modalities to be included in the communications and to integrate those into business processes as well as individual work flows to assure that communications become part of the business, not a separate activity from the business. 4

5 ezuce Origin - an Orchestration Architecture One major architectural difference between ezuce and the other Unified Communications solutions is the basic design of the integration and interoperation. The core of the ezuce architecture, Origin, was designed from the start to be capable of integration with a variety of other systems in the IT infrastructure. These include other communications platforms, IT applications and emerging new technology. The diagram shows the overall structure of the architecture and how Origin enables the orchestration. ezuce Origin Core and APIs The core platform of the Origin solution is built around a set of capabilities that are key to enabling the rich set of communications and collaboration services. These core capabilities include: REST Services The Origin architecture is built with current generation programming and software techniques, hence all of the interfaces are REST based. This allows the rapid creation of new interfaces and series through the uniform interfaces of a REST system. Database The Origin architecture includes a modern NoSQL real-time database that integrates to other corporate databases like LDAP and Active Directory. Management The Origin architecture s configuration management and diagnostics services make it easy to operate the system. Assurance The Origin architecture includes integrated system alarming to keep administrators apprised of important system level issues. Security The Origin architecture includes full firewalling capabilities, rate limiting, denial of service attack prevention mechanisms, and encryption for communications. Analytics The Origin architecture has analytics and metrics of the operation of the system that enable the monitoring and alarming that are critical in today s modern applications. One key feature of Origin is that these capabilities are built into the core rather than 5

6 being bolted on as in many legacy architectures. By building analytics directly into the architecture, the availability level of Origin is enhanced as well as the simplicity of problem resolution. Gateway A key component of the Origin architecture is the gateway its services utilize to provide integration with legacy platforms. These services allow ezuce s Origin to be deeply integrated with existing systems allowing for gradual migrations or just simple system enhancements. Open APIs A major factor in any architecture is the open interfaces that the architecture provides for other systems and software to use the underlying services of the architecture. The Origin architecture includes three distinct APIs, each designed to optimize a set of services and capabilities that can be extended from the core platform to both ezuce applications and third party solutions. The APIs are based on two key tenants of open interfaces, generally approved standards for information as well as open REST interfaces for advanced capabilities. In all cases, these APIs are published and made available for use in any integration project. In fact, the same APIs are used to integrate the range of value-added ezuce applications to the underlying platform. This adherence to a strong layered architecture for all value-added applications assures that the full functionality of the Origin platform is available. The APIs fall into three categories: Manage, Communicate, and Diagnose. These three categories of APIs are designed to provide a rich set of easy-to-use services and actions that are the key to the flexibility of integration of the Origin platform and easy management and operation. The ezuce Unified Communications Applications Suite Using the APIs delivered by the underlying platform, the ezuce architecture has a complete set of Unified Communications applications. These provide the complete set of UC functions as shown in the diagram. One key feature of the modular architecture for applications is to allow selective enablement. This is done for both ezuce Unified Communications Applications ezuce APIs Manage Communicate Diagnose ezuce ORIGIN REST Srvcs Database Management Assurance Security Analytics Gateway 6

7 reduced processor load and alternative vendor enablement. This key differentiator of the ezuce suite is that the applications have been architected as a collection of elements, integrated though Object Oriented code and operation. While all of the functions are coupled, they are designed to be acquired and operated in an a la carte manner. This allows the customer to choose the specific applications and services required based on demand or on certain capabilities being provided by other vendors. This ability to pick and choose the ezuce services and easily mix with services from other vendors is a unique capability of the ezuce architecture. Within the applications suite, the services delivered span the full range of UC applications and capabilities that are normally expected. While many organizations may find these to be fully capable of all of the services for all of their employees, the market today includes a fracturing. For example, a company may have 80% of their employees as service or information workers that do not use a desktop productivity suite like Microsoft Office. However the remaining 20% have the Office suite because of the productivity tools like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. This model is typical of many organizations such as retail, transport, banking, manufacturing, etc. We see a similar fracturing of the user base with traditional telephony vendors creating a culture of the haves and have not s. The ezuce architecture enables a single underlying platform for all users, but enables the higher level UC applications to be mixed based on user needs and preference not on price or complexity. Value Add Third Party UC Applications The next major axis of integration is with the range of value added UC and collaboration applications from vendors who design their solutions to add value. These include video, social, and other services that users want to include into their UC solutions and are finding most appropriate from one of the leading vendors not offering a complete UC solution. For example, many organizations see video as primarily a way to interact with external participants. In this case, as most of the participants are located outside the company, using a cloud-based service like SeeVogh, BlueJeans or Vidyo provides the best solution. The Origin platform enables these solutions to be integrated to the ezuce architecture from a functionality and services perspective. This is an ongoing area of focus for ezuce, assuring that ezuce customers will have access to best-of-breed capabilities to add to their Origin platform. 3rd Party UCCS Integrations Collaboration tools CRM systems ERP systems systems ezuce APIs Manage Communicate Diagnose ezuce ORIGIN REST Srvcs Database Management Assurance Security Analytics Gateway 7

8 Integration to Business Applications and Processes The Origin platform architecture enables ready integration to business applications and services. For some popular applications like salesforce.com, ezuce has built a connector to the application and it is available for general use. However, the architecture of the ezuce APIs makes it easy to integrate with the APIs of applications. The use of RESTful interfaces further accelerates application integration. This makes ezuce one of the easiest architectures to integrate into business processes. Beyond the integration into a specific application, the ezuce Origin architecture enables a common user experience across multiple business apps, reducing user learning and accelerating adoption. Business Application Integration ISV / SI s ezuce APIs Manage Communicate Diagnose ezuce ORIGIN REST Srvcs Database Management Assurance Security Analytics Gateway Traditional Telecom Vendor Integration The capability to orchestrate and integrate to existing Telecom platforms is another important key aspect of the architecture. Through the Origin APIs, the Origin platform is designed to share call control and SIP signaling with other traditional telecom and UC platforms in the network. As the Origin architecture is designed around the open SIP interfaces, the architecture enables shared and sequenced control, assuring that ezuce can openly interoperate and integrate with other systems. This allows users with existing platforms and solutions to integrate those with Origin in a straightforward way. This enables Origin to share control and integrate easily. ezuce APIs Manage Communicate Diagnose ezuce ORIGIN REST Srvcs Database Management Assurance Security Analytics Gateway 8

9 Flexible Deployment Options A strong differentiator of the ezuce architecture is flexible deployment. The platform architecture enables deployment in a variety of environments, ranging from dedicated servers to cloud infrastructure environments such as Amazon, Rackspace and HP Cloud. In-between these two environments, the architecture is designed to deploy into popular Enterprise virtualization systems like VMware and OpenStack. The capability to deploy across a variety of environments allows the ezuce administrator a flexible deployment and adoption model. For example, ezuce can be introduced for a small group of high value users with advanced UC capabilities, while integrated to an existing legacy telephony platform. In this deployment, a cloud model may be best to reduce initial deployment costs. As the needs of the organization change and the ezuce solution is extended to a larger set of users, it may be a more economical solution to move the deployment to a virtualized environment on the enterprise premise or even in a private cloud. The flexible deployment architecture enables these options to be quickly integrated and adopted. ezuce APIs Manage Communicate Diagnose ezuce ORIGIN REST Srvcs Database Management Assurance Security Analytics Gateway INFRASTRUCTURE OPTIONS Physical Servers Enterprise Cloud Public Cloud User Services and the Unite Client The ezuce architecture is designed to optimize the user experience. This is possible because the user experience can now be integrated across all of the user devices in a common way. For example, the ezuce user experience can be made available on a desktop device, in a PC, a tablet, or a smartphone. In addition, the experience can be integrated into a business application such as salesforce.com or a special implementation. The ability of the core platform to orchestrate these integrations, combined with the next generation development environment enables mash-ups and other rapid development to incorporate the value of communications into business applications. USERS 9

10 For the end user is the ezuce Unite client offers ease of use across different platforms. The Unite client provides a single communications Activity Stream and a uniform user experience across devices. Unite is built with HTML5 and is a zero-install client which means that network administrators don t need to install or update applications across their infrastructure. This is a hugely important value to IT organizations. In an upcoming release, WebRTC capabilities will be included so that Unite will also function as the user s softphone. The Activity Stream is a differentiated Unite feature. It is a time-based list of all communications interactions that a user has. The Origin provides an API for developers to build custom notifications into the Activity Stream. As the Unite client moves to all devices, the user gets a common ongoing view of all communications events and activities. Unite is built using many of the Origin architecture API s available in the system and stands as an excellent example of what can be done with the powerful API s. It is relatively easy to incorporate similar capabilities into other business applications through the RESTful APIs and capabilities. The ezuce Architectural Impacts The ezuce Origin architecture uses all of the advantages described above to deliver a superior solution, with a better user experience, lower costs for operation and administration, as well as optimized cost for deployment in the modern IT infrastructure. The ezuce solution has differentiated value in a number of areas. Open Integration The ezuce Origin solution has open integration through simple REST APIs to a variety of both existing and new business applications. This API environment, combined with the orchestration capabilities has been demonstrated as one of the fastest integration solutions in the industry. This allows ezuce, third party software vendors, channel partners and even end users to use the ezuce platform as the core of an advanced business communications system delivering the huge values of Communications Enabled Business Processes (CEBP). CEBP infuses formal business processes with communications and collaboration to reduce the time to completion of process steps. UCStrategies Experts have shown that CEBP can have dramatic business impacts, often many times greater than the productivity and cost impacts of UC for user collaboration. Analysis has shown that CEBP has 5-10 times the value of productivity of UC in most organizations. The ezuce solution enables unlocking that business value. SIP Standards Adherence (Open SIP) The ezuce architecture is a true SIP architecture from the core out. Unlike many telephony number based architectures that simply bolt-on or translate SIP to phone numbers for the call management engine, ezuce uses SIP structures for all of the call processing and session management. In fact, the ezuce architecture is fundamentally domain/handle-based, enabling direct extension to new technologies like WebRTC that may not be as defined as SIP. The adherence to SIP standards and a pure SIP structure delivers easy integration into other SIP systems and vendors. This allows the orchestration that ezuce enables without the addition of translation boxes or additional servers as the core platform can be interoperable with any SIP platform or device. This enables an ezuce solution to scale through SIP devises and systems as well as to utilize existing components in many 10

11 organizations at initial install. One result is potential reduction in the cost of both UC for productivity users, but especially for the CEBP integration. Single Next Generation Code Base Unlike many solutions that have multiple code streams for different markets based on size or complexity and cloud versus premise, the architecture of ezuce Origin enables a single code stream to be implemented across a wide range of deployment options. For example, the same code includes all of the potential options, from simple session management and control through all of the advanced UC suite capabilities. These are all modularized in the software and enabled by key codes. This assures that a deployment not using those capabilities does not have a licensing cost or a deployment cost, but enabling them is simple. The code uses the latest in software techniques to enable deployment in a range of options, but in all cases, it is the same code base. Having a single code base that is partitioned with modern object techniques as well as using the latest in software technologies enables ezuce to rapidly innovate across the solution. For example, a customer need can be quickly implemented in a module and that module released without impacting the other modules in the system. Using object structures and modern programming allows the kind of rapid Agile delivery that has led to innovation in other areas like web hosting and social applications in the ezuce solutions. While ezuce follows a regular major release stream philosophy, this rapid innovating cycle is critical in the fast-changing world of communications. Easier Initial Deployment and Administration The ezuce architecture uses modern data structures as well as web-based interfaces and configuration interfaces, which make the initial deployment and administration take dramatically less effort than systems based on a PSTN type telephony solution. With integration to corporate directories like LDAP and Active Directory, the average programming time for a new user in ezuce is less than 2 minutes. After a system is up and installed, typical ezuce installations require less than 70% of the administration time of other options. In fact a large customer of ezuce administers a system of 40,000 users with only 6 employees. The modular software design of the architecture is enabling ezuce to innovate in user self-service, reducing these costs by even more. As many organizations have found that 30-50% of the cost of a typical traditional telephony system is in the complex Bell derived telephony management and administration, this architectural advantage can generate significant reductions in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Scalable Deployment The ezuce architecture enables the unique scalability that ezuce customers are using. The platform can be deployed on a single small server class machine for a small group or initial deployment. The software can be deployed on an enterprise server for larger deployments. As an organization grows, the deployment can grow, to multiple servers forming a highly available cluster that can span multiple data centers. In all cases, the software is a single release set. If virtualization is deployed, the ezuce architecture is designed to deploy in the major virtualization systems and to be a good citizen, enabling the virtualization system to manage scaling. The ezuce architecture lends itself well to cloud delivery in contrast to many solutions that force cloud deployments to choose between dedicated hosted type deployments that have high inefficiency and multi-tenant hosting where all of the data from multiple organizations is interleaved, the ezuce architecture is designed to support user-based size scaling, with a minimal footprint for small numbers of users and footprint growth based on the number of active users. This enables scaling to match the customer needs and cost points, while maintaining privacy and operational integrity. 11

12 User Experience All of the capabilities of the EZuce Origin architecture come down to delivering the best user experience, whether in a telephony, Unified Communications, collaboration, or business application integration mode. The ezuce architecture is designed to deliver these experiences across the widest variety of endpoints, but also is designed to enable tracking and integration of the ever-changing IT landscape into the system. From BYOD to WebRTC, the ezuce Origin architecture is designed to ensure that companies can integrate, interoperate and deliver the best possible future services at the lowest overall cost. Conclusion Architecture is a critical element in defining platforms and products in the communications space. It defines the capabilities, as well as the velocity of innovation. The ezuce Origin architecture is built as a modern solution and has been designed from the start to enable open operations and interactions with a wide variety of other communications systems, business applications and value-added services. The modular and standards-based design enables the integration of external components and the ability to orchestrate services and applications enables an ezuce Origin solution to add significant value to any business. The use of standards combined with modern programming and operational techniques results in lower operational costs. In the case of ezuce, Architecture Does Matter, and the result is a better communications system, user experience, and overall cost of ownership. 12

13 ezuce, Inc. 300 Brickstone Square, Suite 104 Andover, MA (978)

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