Erasing Hybrid UC Misconceptions
With hybrid UC, optimal solutions for each distinct group of internal and external users must co-exist with each other.
Almost any new market or product gets defined and redefined by both the innovators and the incumbents. This is certainly true for the term "hybrid" when applied to IP telephony, UC, and collaboration.
At a recent conference, no fewer than three credible presenters used the image at right to represent their views of hybrid UC.
But this is not at all a depiction of hybrid UC. Actually, this picture is more like a UC system (the car) in a data center with normal power plus a battery backup system and a gasoline-powered generator.
Sticking with transportation, a hybrid UC environment would look more like the image below.
Here we see four purpose-built options for gasoline-powered transportation that use the same gas stations and the same roads -- and this is exactly analogous to the future of business communications designed around the user's profile rather than the vendor's engineering and manufacturing process. Hybrid UC means that the optimal solutions for each distinct group of users within the enterprise and for the community of customers, prospects, partners, and suppliers will need to co-exist with each other.
You can see how this is shaping up by studying the eight usage profiles I described in my recent No Jitter post, "Usage Profiles Key to UC Success," and in this in-depth usage profile series. It becomes clear that the majority of users will not require the standard Ford Model A PBX to do their jobs. Rather, we will see very different solutions for each usage profile. For example:
- Collaboration users will be working with software designed for their collaborative jobs. This includes tools such as Jive; Slack; Workfront; Jira and Confluence from Atlassian; Microsoft Teams; G Suite from Google; IBM Connections; and perhaps even Unify's Circuit, Cisco's Spark, and other tools from the IP PBX community. All of these will include core messaging and real-time communications tools. Most will have connectors to the PSTN, either directly or via a PBX.
- Field users will likely work entirely on their cellular and Wi-Fi mobile devices using communications that is built into their mobile business applications from companies such as Salesforce.com, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Cerner, and hundreds of others offering purpose-built software packages. These users will just call from their contacts and directories, using the mobile apps and the cellular/PSTN network, without a PBX in the picture.
- Contact center agents, however, will still be driving that heavy-duty pickup truck of the PBX contact center solution, whether in the traditional on-premises configuration or in a new cloud-based format.
As you read about the other usage profiles, you will see that the future will be a hybrid of multiple types of communications solutions that connect via standardized networks and protocols (think PSTN, SIP/SIMPLE, XMPP, SIP, WebRTC, directory-enabled gateways, etc.).
Finally, let's not let the vendors tell us that hybrid means the connection of a single vendor's on-premises IP PBX connected to a hosted or cloud version of the same product. Using hybrid in these terms is just a fancy excuse for the vendor's inability to have seamless operation between its products. Terms such as distributed deployment or componentized architecture seem much more appropriate. However, so many of the IP PBX vendors are using this term that it is probably pointless to rant -- so I'll stop on this point.
The hybrid UC topic is really important. If you get it right, you can deliver UC and collaboration to your enterprise in a way that is truly optimized for business performance, user productivity, and economy. At Enterprise Connect 2017, taking place March 27 to 30 in Orlando, I will be leading an in-depth discussion on this topic in the session, "Architecting Hybrid Cloud: More Art than Science?" The session will be loaded with logic diagrams, analytic tools, and architectural designs to help you lead your enterprise into the optimal hybrid future. Hope to see you there.
Learn more about cloud communications trends and technologies at Enterprise Connect 2017, March 27 to 30, in Orlando. View the Cloud Communications track sessions; register now using the code NOJITTER to receive $300 off an Entire Event pass or a free Expo Plus pass.