The Future of Unified Communications

As more businesses look to increase productivity and mobility, unified communications and collaboration will grow bigger and better to meet these technology needs. Even with individual tools such as video conferencing and presence making a difference for organisations and integration between the different technologies possible, unified communications is popping up in other areas such as personal mobile devices and the cloud.

Making mobile communications possible

Employees are using their own devices for work, which means they will eventually need access to the same unified communications tools on their mobile phones and tablets. Providers such as Cisco will soon let users access their mobile phones like a corporate desk phone, providing features such as unified inbox, call back and conferencing. Employees will be able to work from the road and still reach colleagues as they would in the office.

Cisco will also offer connection to third-party devices by the end of the year as a new feature of Cisco Unified Communications Manager. This means users can use another device as their office phone and have all calls routed to whatever phone they are using on the road.

A move to the cloud

It seems technology trends are folding into each other more and more, and unified communications and the cloud are the latest marriage. What’s so great about the two together? Well, more freedom in how and when you access your communications tools, for one. Ideally, unified communications platforms hosted in the cloud should let you instant message, video chat or call someone from whatever device and (secure) network you want. There might also be fewer infrastructure maintenance costs and tasks involved.

Datacom has seen organisations leverage both public and private cloud to lay the groundwork for their unified communications programmes. Organisations can also use a hybrid cloud approach to unified communications, the latter of which gives organisations even more flexibility to mix and match the technologies and vendors they want while better controlling costs and implementation challenges.

A vendor-neutral solution stack

In the past, organisations have often opted for a unified communications technology stack from one provider. This makes sense to a point — it can simplify licensing and make management easier. But organisations that don’t consider solutions outside a single provider can miss out on technologies that might be better-suited to their business.

The trend in years to come, according to an article from earlier this year on TMCnet, will have organisations instead looking to unify the best-of-breed technologies under an IT integrator. Not only will this help organisations take advantage of an array of technologies from different providers — it will also allow easier integration of these new technologies into existing systems.

Which communication and collaboration capabilities will your organisation look into?

Datacom Transforms Wilmar Australia’s IT Environment with a Move to the Cloud

Talk about a short deadline.

In 2010, sugar, ethanol and energy producer Wilmar Australia needed to transform its entire IT environment and rebrand its technology image as part of its divestment from parent company CSR. The catch: the project needed to be done in under a year for 1,500 employees in 31 locations to meet the divestment schedule.

The project involved leveraging the latest Microsoft technology for a desktop upgradewhile outsourcing core IT functions and moving Wilmar Australia’s IT infrastructure to Infrastructure as a Service. Wilmar Australia also wanted a brand makeover; it saw itself as developing into a more engaging, dynamic organisation and wanted its technology to reflect that.

A sweet solution

A lot of IT solutions providers might’ve balked at that lofty task. Not Datacom.

 Wilmar Australia’s new vision aligned very closely with Datacom’s approach to doing business – delivering enduring performance through fresh thinking. These shared values, along with Datacom’s technology knowledge and commitment to building strong partnerships with its customers, made choosing an IT solutions provider easier for Wilmar Australia.

The eventual solution for Wilmar Australia’s IT needs was a Microsoft stack running on Datacom’s IaaS cloud. The list of tasks involved to complete the project included:

  • Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7
  • Migrating from Office 2003 to Office 2010
  • Adding messaging with Exchange 2010
  • Establishing a new Active Directory 2008
  • Updating legacy unified communications systems using Cisco and Microsoft Lync 2010
  • Incorporating document management with SharePoint 2010
  • Establishing database management and consolidation using SQL 2010
  • Integrating with BizTalk
  • Establishing security via Threat Management Gateway
  • Creating full disaster recovery

Datacom also helped move 240 of Wilmar Australia’s servers and over 90 of their critical business applications to the cloud.

Better technology, better business

Wilmar Australia’s employees across locations are now able to leverage the latest technology to collaborate and communicate better. With the latest operating system and office and communications tools, each employee is able to complete his or her tasks and assignments with renewed efficiency and simplicity.

Brendan O’Kane, General Manager of Information Services at Wilmar Australia, says the Datacom migration has set the organisation on a course toward greater agility and innovation.

“We have given people new tools and better access to help them do their jobs more efficiently and take a lot of noise out of the business,” he says. “The IT strategy is now supporting the business.

“The solution is a much better fit to our DNA than where we came from. We needed to be able to support change and innovation in a fast-moving environment, and the Datacom cloud allows us to do that.”