A recent unified communications & collaboration (UC&C) study from IDG predicts a surge in enterprises adopting UC over the next three years. Primary drivers include improved employee collaboration, increased productivity and increased workforce flexibility.

UC is not one single product, however, but a complex environment with a wide range of separate components. Not surprisingly, according to NETSCOUT, 9 out of 10 first-time deployments run into problems. Failures are often related to issues in the broader environment that supports the UC&C systems.

To effectively manage such complex, multivendor environments, you need a holistic view to see the interdependencies between all components.

Quick problem-identification

At the user end, when a picture freezes or a communications session fails altogether, it may cause anything from annoyance or frustration to the loss of a customer. In other cases, company reputation may be at stake. In extreme cases, lives may be at risk.

"A single monitoring application provides real-time visibility of all services and components while providing early warnings for potential issues." 

“It’s a serious problem when a mission-critical UC&C service is impaired and you don’t know which component is the cause,” sums Paul Barrett, CTO for Enterprise at NETSCOUT. ZK Research’s report, “Time-Sensitive, Actionable Intelligence Is Key to UC Service Assurance,” shows that 90 percent of the time used for problem-solving is related to finding the problem. Reducing MTTK (mean time to knowledge) is therefore critical.

“Top-down management sees the entire environment and is the only way to effectively manage real-time communications,” argues Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research. “Continuous real-time monitoring is required for UC service assurance,” he adds. Baselines can be set for traffic flows, with deviations indicating problems. That way, “IT teams can proactively detect service degradations before they escalate and fix the issue before users complain.”

Netting results

What sets NETSCOUT’s nGeniusONE Service Assurance platform apart is their ability to see end-to-end across complex UC&C environments. A single monitoring application provides real-time visibility of all services and components while providing early warnings for potential issues. That way, IT knows where to focus problem-solving.

A 2015 survey by TechValidate showed 4 out of 5 NETSCOUT customers reducing MTTK by at least 80 percent. All experienced shorter service disruptions. A large energy and utilities company cut MTTR (mean time to resolution) by 90 percent. Fidelity Investments reduced MTTR by at least 80 percent and war room incident time from 10-20 hours’ average to a maximum of five.

In hospitals, services like electronic medical record applications and telemedicine depend on 24/7/365 hassle-free operations. Here, benefits from maintaining seamless UC&C can ultimately translate to saving patients’ lives.