Cloud paves way for cost-effective UC, rapid deployment
By Yoshihiko Miyamoto, NEC Corporation 26-Mar-2012
As unified communications (UC) platforms increasingly shift from on-premise to cloud-based solutions, NEC can offer more virtualized applications and deliver them as affordable, 'pay-per-use', demand-based solutions and services, especially to small and medium sized businesses (SMBs).
Examples include high-definition (HD) telepresence and room-to-room video solutions - options traditionally viewed as high-end and expensive by SMBs. More importantly, these cloud services allow businesses to monitor the cost and usage of individual UC application by user.
Before moving applications and services to the cloud, manufacturers and carriers must first focus their efforts on implementing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) with capabilities like billing and provisioning. This year, there will be more focus on platform-as-a-service (PaaS), applications development and helping end-user organizations to migrate to the cloud.
The biggest challenge is that even though platforms and applications are on the cloud, the users can be anywhere. So, the focus for NEC will be to continually improve and provide superior security for our customers. We need a secure pipe or connectivity between the cloud and the endpoint by implementing technologies like virtual private networks, unified threat management and encryption.
However, if users download all the applications and corporate information to the endpoint, data theft or leakage will be a major risk. We see a trend towards thin clients using HTML5 technology that runs within the browser. These will change the way content and functionality is delivered to mobile users so applications and information do not reside on the endpoint device.
NEC's cloud solutions
NEC has begun offering hospitality solutions in the cloud for the European market while in Japan, we already offer a wide range of solutions, including web and video conferencing. We will make these solutions as well as the NEC Hosted Collaboration Service for web conferences available to more markets globally.
The browser-based NEC Hosted Collaboration Service is a subscription solution that offers feature-rich web conferences.
Another NEC solution that will see greater availability worldwide is the UNIVERGE Sphericall pure software-based UC solution. UNIVERGE is NEC's IP architecture that unifies multimedia networks.
The full-featured, enterprise-class UC solution includes simple user-based licensing, a choice of IP desktop phones, unified messaging, advanced mobility and a general-purpose server, all seamlessly integrated within the application environment of a business. Benefits include a single point of administration, scalability and Service Oriented Architecture capabilities.
One user of the UNIVERGE Sphericall platform is the citizenM hotel in Glasgow, Scotland. NEC and Swisscom Hospitality Services (SHS), a division of leading European telco operator Swisscom, implemented it as a cloud-based communications service.
NEC hosted the platform within its local data center, providing it as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution. Swisscom used the open, web services architecture of Sphericall to integrate with its property management service and embed communications into business-critical applications and processes across the hotel.
As Swisscom undertakes all the call rating and ensures that all calls follow the optimum and most cost-effective route, the Netherlands-based citizenM do not need to engage other third parties.
The scope of UC applications is increasingly expanding towards communication-enabled business processing (CEBP) and becoming a process-oriented multi-channel communication. It leverages existing communication infrastructure and UC components like presence, instant messaging, interactive voice response and mobility to enhance collaboration and teamwork or application-to-person interactions.
Strategically, the Sphericall platform deployed in the cloud means that as citizenM expands, it could utilize the same technology at new hotel sites without incurring further set-up costs.
The bottom line is that cloud-based solutions are cost-effective, reliable and secure and they can be deployed quickly and easily. Our customers avoid all the cost and disruption of deploying their own infrastructure, significantly reducing IT capital expenditure while eliminating on-site IT maintenance costs.
Yoshihiko Miyamoto is the senior manager of NEC Corporation's UNIVERGE Support Center.