There is a lot of talk in the communications industry about "unified communications", or "UC" for short, and "UCE" for the enterprise connected organization.
There is not a lot of talk about the infrastructure necessary to be able to make this a reliable reality.
We coined our own term, "The 4C's". This stands for "Cloud Computing, Communications and Connectivity". It has become apparent to those of us in the business of technology consulting that it is in the customer's best interest to migrate as many mundane chores as possible to the cloud. This includes everything from VPN connections and back-ups to the entire file server. The reality for most small-to-medium sized businesses is there is no longer a need to connect through layers of network connections, whether accessing files or applications, regardless of the location of the user.
We did a brief non-technical write up as a favor for a firm recently, and came to a conclusion. We were trying to nudge them to a really good hybrid sweet spot, where their main accounting and manufacturing LOB application could reside no longer in their office, but on our Citrix farm. Then they could make local file access and key PC's backups via a local appliance. At that point their other applications, which are sales and email, are already hosted elsewhere, they would end up with a flexible, fast and easy to maintain and support network by any sense of comparison. Here is a look at how this can be done by stripping away out-moded network layers.
Layer 1: By moving their one in-house LOB (line of business) application, which is database driven, to a cloud environment, layers of complexity are stripped away for everyone involved. It removes the need for a VPN. It removes the responsibility of on-site backup and server systems to be properly running. It removes the need for internal hardware server upgrades. You get the idea. It becomes simple to connect and use from anywhere, without the bloat of internal servers and dependent equipment.
Layer 2: By moving their local files to an appliance which also syncs with the cloud and provides remote access to the cloud sync'ed version without the remote user having to connect to the network, for this also provides an instant online backup, with versioning (an automatic, unique copy of the file is made every time the file is saved), with no software to install. Their local users will have access at whatever Ethernet speed they have. This provides all of the benefits of a central file storage system, without the bloat of a traditional Network Operating System. This method also integrates directly with their sales CRM system, which is hosted. In the same way, they can also set their PC's to backup local files to their appliance, mitigating the need for a local PC backup solution.
Layer 3: By putting in multiple internet connections and a disk-less based internet routing and security appliance the entire network can now fit in a wall mounted cabinet and all the old servers can be turned off.
What's gone? All of the old servers. What's left? A firewall appliance and disk storage appliance, the Ethernet network, the need for a limited number of battery backup systems and the existing PC's with some printer connectivity. The phone system, although this might also be better if replaced with something smarter, leaner and greener. A very uncomplicated network with distributed support staff with extensive experience. Say goodbye to the more complicated task of budgeting, since all these subscription-based services can be changed month-to-month as you staffing changes. No more capital expenses up front to completely remodel the network every time there is a new software upgrade must be added.
Networks are like onions, they're complicated. To get inside and understand them, you have to peel back the layers. Once you do so, you'll find an easier, more cost-effective system that will grow as you need it to,and if this sounds like something you would like to explore for your firm, call us .