Forrester Research said recently that the unified communications (UC) market in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific will reach $14.5bn (£10.5bn) in 2015 as IT managers look to slash costs and boost efficiency.
VARs can sell more UC-related technologies and the performance tools to manage them and the network. UC applications must perform well without damaging the performance of other business-critical applications.
Converged IP offers benefits from real-time presence status, point-to-click calling, videoconferencing on demand and other features built into UC applications.
UC applications will place greater demands on the network from a user perspective than other networked applications to date.
IT professionals are likely to find that their current network monitoring tools, most of which are based on fault management, do not position them for success in today’s market.
Partners can differentiate their offerings by including tools with network performance management capabilities that will also safeguard business-critical applications when introducing bandwidth-heavy applications.
Availability and utilisation data are no longer enough. A performance-first approach to network management should include key performance indicators such as application response times and network traffic analysis statistics, plus UC-related metrics regarding VoIP and video quality.
This contextual view of network performance is critical for resolving UC system problems.
Such tools may also help customers decide whether other changes, such as adding bandwidth or deploying WAN optimisation technologies, are worth the investment.
Given the ever-increasing role of UC services in the business, organisations must move beyond a "separate products" mentality to focus on creating a fully integrated network infrastructure and management suite.
Done right, this provides a high-level overview of network and application performance, with the ability to drill down to problems as required and use data on historical trends to plan for change.
Paul O’Reilly is director of European sales at NetQoS
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