UC 10 years on: Single Stack or Best of Breed ?
By Guillaume Privat, Director, Adobe Connect
One of the promise touted by Unified Communications vendors was that idea that organizations could suddenly get all their communication services provided by one single vendor. The benefit of this single vendor approach, beyond making it easier on the procurement department, was that the integration of all the communication services into one single Unified Communication solution would be provided out of the box. In this second post in our UC serie, we will look at whether, 10 years after, organizations have really embraced that single stack approach to UC?
When UC started to be marketed by the likes of Cisco, Microsoft or Nortel, most large organizations had already deployed all the communications services that comprised the UC stack: private branch exchange (PBX), audio conferencing, video conferencing, instant messaging & presence, web conferencing. They had done so over time, on a best of breed model, selecting different vendors for each area.
When surveying large organizations today, that picture has not changed that much. They have integrated bits and pieces of the UC offering of the different vendors, but few have gone through a very risky rip and replace strategy to go with one single vendor stack. There are multiple reasons for that.
1) Not one vendor delivered on the One Integrated Stack. Even when purchasing from one vendor, the amount of effort to integrate the different components of the UC solution was still daunting. In many instances, the marketing for UC solutions preceded what the products could truly deliver in terms of integration.
2) Various deployment options. UC was initially developed as an on-premise solution, as a replacement to old analog PBX. But many organizations, preferred to maintain certain services in the cloud, like audio conferencing, or web conferencing. This diversity of deployment models did not lend itself to a single stack approach.
3) Various degree of maturity of each technology. As soon as a technology becomes a feature in a broader stack, its innovation cycle slows. To survive in the stack it means that its feature set has become stable and has been commoditized. This is what has happened with voice, or instant messaging: both are typically the core tenets of any UC offering. Video conferencing or web conferencing have not yet achieved maturity, principally because of the rise of mobility which has pushed a need for a new innovation cycle with new player like BlueJean or Vidyo for video or Adobe Connect for web conferencing.
4) Minimizing risks. No technology can guarantee 100% uptime. When implementing any solution, you have to assume that at some point in time, something will eventually fail. If all your communication solutions run on the same stack, it means that you could be left with no way to communicate: no phone, no email, no instant messaging, etc… Having multiple vendors reduce the probability that all UC technologies fail at the same time.
5) Diversity of usage. UC solutions focus on very basic internal collaboration use case. What if a group need to reach large audience for marketing or e-learning outside of the organization? Typically these communication use cases are not covered by the UC solution and will need to come from other specialized vendors for the audio, the video or the web component.
Join the conversation. Tell us: did your organization choose a best of breed approach to UC or select only one vendor? Do you see additional reasons to go one way or another? You can comment below or reply on Twitter @gprivat.