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Making interoperability work in unified communications and collaboration

As we kick off this year’s Enterprise Connect conference, one subject I am discussing a lot with customers is interoperability. This topic is always evolving, but our customers’ need for interoperability has remained the same. So what are the customers telling us about their interoperability requirements and concerns within unified communications and collaboration, and what is Cisco’s approach to addressing those?

What customers want:

At its heart, interoperability is about enabling the free flow of communication across boundaries – whether those boundaries are geographical, across firewalls between businesses and their ecosystems or customers. Customers want to be able to share information quickly and easily across different systems from multiple vendors.

Customers also stress the need for protecting their investments in existing systems and extending their capabilities to new types of work scenarios. These systems include infrastructure (such as Active Directory or Exchange or Notes), voice and video systems (such as Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager and TelePresence and competitive products from other vendors), and desktop or enterprise productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office, IBM Lotus, SAP, Salesforce.com and others). They must work within heterogeneous environments and accommodate new solutions as they come to market.

But that two systems work together is not enough. They must come together as seamlessly as possible to ensure an uncompromised user experience

Finally, this all needs to happen across platforms and devices, particularly as we move toward a post-PC era of many different devices -- from smartphones and tablets in the field to desktop computers and immersive room-based systems. These devices need to be blended into customers’ existing collaboration environments while providing a consistent and compelling user experience.

This is what customers want.

What the industry needs to do:

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VDI: Creating a Successful Virtual Desktop Architecture

During a recent Desktop Virtualization Webcast titled VDI with Unified Communications: What Architects Need to Know, one of the key takeaways was that Unified Communications (UC) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) teams need to work together and look at the larger user environment in which they are delivering the IT services.  When the audience was asked how many of them were collaborating with their UC teams, 53% said they were currently engaging with their organization’s UC teams in their desktop virtualization projects.

Of course, this may be a biased sample, since the survey is of the webcast attendees, which mainly include IT professionals who are interested in the intersection of VDI and UC.  However, I believe this is a sign of a growing trend in enterprise IT.

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Protect Data Shared Through Unified Communications

Lock down your UC system to prevent the theft or loss of sensitive business information

Companies large and small have embraced VoIP (voice over IP) and unified communications (UC), and malicious parties are there, too. In fact, some research firms estimate that targeted attacks on VoIP infrastructure account for as much as one third of all attacks around the world, in part because companies haven’t secured their VoIP and UC systems as well as other online applications like email. Unauthorized persons can use holes in UC systems to sneak onto your network, access stored business data like sensitive customer information, or commit toll fraud.

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Unified Communications on the Unified Compute System

March 6, 2012 at 9:43 am PST

What is the saying, two great tastes that taste great (better) together?  This is in essence, the best way to describe the value of putting your Cisco Unified Communications on the Cisco Unified Computing Platform.  While its certainly logical that we do something like this but and to the benefit of our customers, we have steadily increased the number of materials that help explain not just why this can be a huge cost and workflow savings, but also how one goes about doing it.

You can get a lot of written details but we of course suggest you watch one of our latest in the ‘Fundamentals’ series to get you ready.

Bonus points for the learners among you after the jump.

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Online Retailer Turns to Cisco Partner to Help Upgrade Network

February 8, 2012 at 11:44 am PST

Imagine running a call center where all of your phones rang for a single call and your operators had to roshambo to decide who would answer. Pure chaos, right? Well, that describes the situation Wayfair (formerly CSN Stores) was in before INX (recently acquired by Presidio) stepped in to upgrade and enhance their networking capabilities. (Okay, maybe without the roshambo part, but still chaotic nonetheless.)

Wayfair is the largest online retailer in the home goods space. As they grew from a two-person company to one with 800 employees, they looked to INX to provide various network solutions—from expanding their older VoIP-based telephony solution to designing and implementing a scalable Cisco Unified Communications/Collaboration Solution.

Wayfair Co-founder and Chairman Steve Conine says, “We really needed to upgrade to a system that had much more sophisticated routing and better tie-in with our call order system. Having the ability to take advantage of some of the Cisco wireless phone technology for the operators on the floor and the warehouse has been pretty neat.”

Steve also gives glowing reviews of INX. “Over the years, working with INX, they’ve really become a trusted advisor to our IT operations group.”

But INX didn’t become Wayfair’s trusted advisor overnight. Watch as Steve shares why INX continues to be a group he relies on when it comes to providing network solutions.

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