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As in “The Force,” darkness lurks within UCaaS offerings.

In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo visits his old friend Lando Calrissian in the Cloud City above the planet Bespin. At first, the city seems like paradise — a tremendously profitable one — for the humans and Ugnaughts residing in the clouds. However, life there has its challenges, like keeping Darth Vader of the Galactic Empire out. For Lando, life in the clouds is a careful balancing act of pros and cons.

Source: WookiepediaFor IT managers, the shift to cloud-based UC poses what I’ll call a Calrissian-like challenge. As is the case within “The Force,” a hidden dark side lurks behind each perceived benefit of adopting the cloud. IT managers need to be aware of this dichotomy. I’ll explain more in the following five examples.

Join me at Enterprise Connect 2015 in Orlando for guidance on selecting
a systems integrator for your unified communications project.

As the complexity of unified communications continues to grow, selecting a systems integrator for UC takes on increasing importance, particularly for large enterprises.

A decade or so ago, UC was challenging but not overly complex as the architecture mirrored a traditional PBX. You had a phone, an Ethernet cable, and an IP-PBX. The challenge came in running voice on the data network. This certainly caused some issues, but enterprises very quickly developed best practices and for the most part turned running converged voice and data networks into a nonissue.

UC has evolved significantly over the past 10 years, though, and the complexity level has shot up faster than Tiger Woods’ golf game has fallen apart. UC now involves the use of physical and virtual servers, softphones, Wi-Fi clients, cellular clients, video services, recording capabilities, multiple vendors, cloud-based resources, and application integration. After deployment come migration issues such as dial plan updates, user training, voice mail porting, and so on.

Polycom showed some flash and sizzle at its annual Team partner conference, but it still has plenty more work to do.

Last week Polycom held its annual partner conference, Team Polycom, under the sunny skies of Orlando, Fla. The change in venue from the dreary, overcast conditions of Vancouver, B.C., home of the previous two Team events, seems well timed with the vendor’s improved market position.

A year ago, Polycom had recently gone through a CEO change and was struggling to find its identity amid questions about its very existence as a stand-alone company. Despite having some great products, Polycom spent most of its time defending itself against Cisco and the myriad of new competitors that had emerged in the past few years. However, the Polycom I witnessed in Orlando seemed to have more swagger and a whole new identity based on a tremendous amount of success since the arrival of new CEO Peter Leav.

As contact centers leverage feature-rich communications technology, session border controllers become an important infrastructure component.

As the contact center is often the first company touchpoint for customers, we’ve all learned that a great contact center experience can leave a customer happy and ready to do more business. Conversely, a bad contact center experience can make a satisfied customer as grumpy as Patriots coach Bill Belichick when asked about Deflategate.

It’s possible for a business to offer great products yet have the experience with a product be significantly overshadowed by a subpar contact center interaction. Bad contact center experiences can hurt a company’s net promoter score, damage its reputation, and ultimately lead to revenue loss and decreased profits.

This is the primary reason why businesses have been obsessed with improving the overall contact center experience. One way to improve the experience is to shift the contact center from being driven only by voice to a more media-rich environment.

Where speed matters, new Cisco technology provides an
easy, cost-effective upgrade path to 802.11AC Wave 2.

With Ferrari-like speed coming to Wi-Fi this year in the form of 802.11AC Wave 2 and new switch technology that’ll smooth its integration into the enterprise, Italy — home of the Ferrari — was a fitting site for Cisco’s annual European user conference, Cisco Live Milan 2015.

AC Wave 2, despite the lame naming convention of the standard, is the most significant wireless standard ever, blowing the doors off current access speeds — both wired and wireless. While AC Wave 1 brought speeds comparable to Gigabit Ethernet, the current dominant standard for wired access, Wave 2 has a top speed of 6.8 Gbps.

Historically, workers needed to choose between the speed and dedicated performance of a wired connection for applications like VoIP and video and the flexibility of wireless for applications for which performance wasn’t a top priority. But now with Wave 2 workers can have the best of both worlds — speed and mobility. Want to do a video call over Wi-Fi? No problem. Heck, with 6.8 Gbps, do a telepresence session and it will work great. For the first time ever, the performance of wireless isn’t just on par with wired, it’s significantly better.

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