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FCW : April 30, 2016
cal resources are trained on new tech- nologies, and parts are more expen- sive to source. Those fiscal pressures necessitate network consolidation, which translates into organizational consolidation. At the same time, a greater need for mobile collaborative applications emerges because fewer resources span a larger spectrum of responsibil- ity and enhanced secu- rity becomes more dif- ficult as infrastructure ages. Agencies attempt to address those challenges with budget-neutral tran- sition plans or different consumption models. For the most part, capi- tal funding is scarce due to presidential agenda items, which set priorities for spending. And achieving a budget-neutral plan for moderniza- tion is nearly impossible through on- premises systems that require heavy upfront and ongoing capital expenses. An increasingly appealing alternative is cloud-based unified communications, which can extend the life of legacy IT infrastructure by modernizing enter- prisewide communications and col- laboration — without incurring the additional cost burden. Defining unified communications “Unified communications” is an elu- sive term to pin down because it can relate to platforms, services, appli- cations and products. For these pur- poses, it is a methodology that uni- fies separate modes of communication into a single, combined user experi- ence. Email, text and voice messaging work seamlessly with live voice, audio and video conferencing and web col- laboration. Everything occurs in one interface, with “presence” notifica- tion to indicate a user’s availability to participate. Agencies increasingly view cloud- based unified communications as a way to have a positive impact on a broad range of operations, including citizen engagement, costs, workforce mobility, productivity, and secure com- munications and data via any device and network. Just as important, cloud unified communications services can be eas- ily and cost-effectively layered onto an agency’s existing infrastructure, pre- cluding the need to replace or signifi- cantly upend current systems in a way that is not financially feasible. Reaping cloud benefits Most agencies require four things in any new platform. The first is scalabil- ity, due to the size of agencies’ user communities. Platforms must be able to support existing users and accom- modate the potential for large com- munities of new users to be added as time progresses. A scalable solution should mean lower cost of ownership and fewer moving parts. Second — and an inherent part of scale — are reliability and resiliency. The risk would be substantial if a mas- sively scalable solution didn’t have a high degree of reliability. We talk about reliability in terms of statistics such as 5 minutes of downtime per year (99.999 percent uptime). We speak of resiliency in terms of having no single point of failure. Interoperability is also crucial. Any platform must have the ability to work with existing infrastructure and appli- cations, as well as adapt to and inte- grate newer technolo- gies that propel user productivity. And lastly, every new solution should have security built in. Once a set of security standards is defined, developers must ensure that new prod- ucts meet or exceed them and are validated as such. Cloud-based unified communications effectively address each of these agency platform require- ments. They lower the costs associ- ated with legacy IT by consolidating infrastructure and staff. They deliver new functionality to existing assets by enabling features such as telepho- ny presence. They give agencies the flexibility to scale legacy IT infrastruc- ture as current and future requirements demand. And they are open in order to be interoperable with existing IT infra- structure and accommodate new secu- rity requirements over time. Unified communications can deliver greater flexibility, efficiency, automation and security. The tech- nologies allow agencies to be more agile, remain innovative, align costs to actual use and ultimately better focus efforts on their core mission objectives. n Russell Brodsky is director of federal government sales at Unify. Extending the life of legacy IT April 30, 2016 FCW.COM 31 SHUTTERSTOCK DrillDown Achieving a budget-neutral plan for modernization is nearly impossible through on-premises systems. Continued from page 20 0430fcw_020-031.indd 31 4/5/16 2:18 PM
April 15, 2016
May 15, 2016