Copyright © 2007 Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
October 26, 2007
Feedback From A Large Enterprise on The Role of Hosted UC Services
Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View
As you can tell from all the press that is being generated by Microsoft’s entry into the world of unified communications, which includes IP telephony, SIP, and VoIP networking, there are many perspectives being thrown at enterprise IT organizations as to how and why they should move forward in migrating to UC. For the smaller business enterprises, the pressure is also starting to build for the VAR channels to jump on the moving UC train. But, the old CPE VAR game may have to change; because it is no longer a matter of selling just CPE-based TDM telephone applications and wired desktop phones, but also device-independent, hosted/managed IP-based UC service options as well.
What About Large Enterprises?
The new complexity of UC, coupled with personalized mobile devices, is bringing the migration challenge to medium and large enterprise organizations as well, and hosted/managed services can play a useful role for them in “crossing the chasm” to UC. One of the highlights of Microsoft’s OCS Launch in San Francisco on October 16th, was the participation of large end users who were trialing the new technology. I not only had the opportunity to hear the presentation given by Rolf Hansmann, Head of Common Services Architecture and New Technologies, for Sanofi Aventis, one of the world’s largest global pharmaceutical companies, but also discussed practical UC implementation issues with him.
As already reported, Hansmann made a clear case for both collaborative interaction speed and flexibility, as well as for complete security, in his company’s development cycle for new pharmaceutical products, the value of which is enormous to their bottom line. However, in a personal conversation following his talk, he acknowledged the potential need and value of using secure, hosted services, while at this time relying on complete control through premise-based technology,
Here is an email exchange that followed up on my conversation with him at the Microsoft OCS Launch.
From: Arthur M. Rosenberg [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 4:08 AM
To: Hansmann, Rolf PH/DE
Subject: Good meeting you
I enjoyed hearing your presentation at the Microsoft Launch in San Francisco, as well talking with you afterwards.
I have long been focused on the end users' needs as a prerequisite for what the enterprise must supply in the way of technology services. I certainly appreciate your concerns for information security and I think that can be done by managing information access and limiting personal storage of such data. However, once a person knows the information, how can you possibly prevent them from giving it to someone else in some form or another? There obviously has to some amount of "trust," as well as tracking of individual communication activities.
In addition to security concerns, I think making business contacts more efficient, simplified, and flexible is a general need that UC will help make possible. Given that UC technology will provide such improvements, the next big question is how the enterprise should "migrate" to that future.
I am providing a link to my Microsoft UC white paper that was published back in July. While I certainly appreciate your concerns for having premise-based control over all information and communication activity, I think we are heading towards a hosted/managed service environment that will facilitate the migration to new communication applications, regardless of where the server and client software end up residing.
I am also providing a link to my latest article in BCR magazine that addresses the need for hosted/managed services because of the greater complexity of the UC technologies. Of course it will be most applicable to the SMB market, which doesn't have much in-house IT expertise at all, but I think even larger organizations will find it difficult to create or maintain all that constantly evolving software that gets tied into UC. On the other hand, who will you trust to do that in the future? (You have already mentioned your disappointment with some “UC” software offerings so far, along with high hopes for Microsoft’s OCS.)
I welcome your comments as a "hands-on," real-world enterprise user, and was glad to hear that in your environment, there is beginning to be a "viral" acceptance of UC capabilities from end users. Are you collecting any metrics of productivity yet?
Hope you had a safe trip home.
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 4:08 AM
To: Arthur M. Rosenberg [mailto:email@example.com]
Subject: RE: Good meeting You
For me, it was also a pleasure to meet you. I see from all your comments that great minds are thinking very similarly. This is true for almost all areas we talked about and the ones you mention in the eMail. The discussion about the combination of technical security measures and personal trust is one of my favourite discussions with security departments.
I already told them that for total technical security, we can block the network, but for keeping all the secrets a large organization has, we would need to kill all the employees knowing the secrets! (Social hacking is still the easiest way to get information.) So you are absolutely right! In the real world there are two different kinds of boys: one sort puts the nice marbles into the pocket, looks at them at home, and does not show them to anyone else. The other kind of boys take their marbles to the schoolyard and play with the other boys. Yes, this includes the risk of losing marbles, but it is the only way to win more as well.
So, for me security in the confidentiality area is a balance you always need to work on. Do not make it too easy for the competition (and the Chinese) to get your secrets, but do not stop the flow of creative juices within your own organisation. I think Microsoft OCS (MOCS) found a perfect balance for doing this with its Transport Layer Security. It is hard for the IT people to install it, but there are zero additional hurdles for end users to use it.
This leads me to the other part of your eMail and thinking - the external service idea for UC and other services. I am with Dilbert. He said that what we can count on for the next decade is inexperience and ignorance - and that is what will make your ideas useful. IT personnel, mainly the higher levels, often have no clue these days about new technology details and architecture. They are able to address budgets and they are able to reorganize their staffs. Then, IT middle management follows and often do not even try to innovate, but also focus on reducing operational budgets. If organizations would stop concentrating of saving operational cost and concentrate on understanding how IT technology is changing, almost every implementation project could be done for a minimum savings of 10 times less up to a maximum factor of some thousand times cheaper.
In Germany there is the Hercules project claiming to provide non-military communication for the Bundeswehr, our army personnel. They already spent 8 billion € on that for 100,000 people in Germany and claim that they need more money. Comparable projects in the business world do the same thing for 100,000 people worldwide for 5 million €. So my take is, that if IT management would be able to understand the new, “smart” infrastructures and consultants would head in the same direction, they would save tremendous amounts of money in implementations.
Under those circumstances, I would bet on using an internal smart infrastructure as we are doing (and proving with this that we are a good IT managers). But, under the current reality in many organizations, I would agree with you in your BCR article and say, “Given the inexperience of most IT organizations in implementing large but smart and cheap infrastructures, it might be better to start with an external service for commodity functions.”
Regarding productivity metrics, I need to say it is too early to have them for Microsoft OCS. We can speak about Exchange Conferencing here and we do have some of those activity statistics, which can be the baseline to calculate ROI savings from usage of that application.
I need to repeat: I enjoyed the discussion with you and I enjoy continuing that by eMail.