Voice and Data Convergence - Both Friend and Foe for MSPs
February 26, 2009
By Jessica Kostek
, TMCnet Channel Editor
Managed service providers (MSPs) are currently at a critical turning point. Service offerings built to remotely manage clients' converging voice and data systems present an enormous business opportunity—however significant challenges are appearing.
In the last few years, the transition from analog phone systems to IP voice technologies has created a more pivitol role for modern MSPs. Business customers now look to MSPs to manage the complex, multi-vendor environments common when deploying converged voice systems. As a result, MSPs must provide broader services that manage multiple IP voice platforms, including unified messaging and Web conferencing.
By 2010, 95 percent of enterprises will commingle voice and data services, according to Gartner (News
For MSPs, this convergence will result in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Already traditional managed services—including basic network design, implementation, and monitoring—face intense competition and increasing price pressure.
Gartner advises, "Telecom service providers in mature markets must optimize the performance of their business models to mitigate declining traditional services revenue and profit margins."
MSPs must find cost effective ways to offer newer, higher-value services to their customers. Confronted by an evolving multi-vendor infrastructure that poses "unprecedented service management challenges," explained Accenture's (News
) Larry Socher, a senior executive in their Communication & High-Tech practice, delivering innovative MSP service solutions is complicated in converging environments.
Challenges facing MSPs are:
- Difficulty Pursuing New Clients with mixed IP Voice environments
- Problems Meeting Service Level Expectations and Agreements (SLAs)
- Issues Ensuring Call Reliability and Quality across complex voice networks
- Competing with other MSPs and winning
Tone Software’s (News
) solution to help MSPs tackle these challenges is their ReliaTel Converged Communications Management Software.
ReliaTel is a platform-agnostic solution for monitoring and managing multi-vendor converged voice and data infrastructures. Benefits of the converged communications management software for MSPs include:
- Monitors and manages all TDM and IP based equipment, and analyzes health, performance, fault, and quality metrics needed to ensure clients’ voice service levels.
- Unifies all management within a single application, eliminating the need for multiple proprietary tools, and thereby greatly reducing MSP overhead costs.
- Provides cost-effective support for multi-vendor environments, allowing MSPs to compete for new business regardless of the prospect's mix of equipment.
- Enables faster and easier response to issues by presenting faults and performance issues in easy-to-understand messages with recommended resolution procedures, if desired.
- Reveals SLAs at risk, helping MSPs prioritize resources and ensure commitments are met.
- Reduces the costs for training support personnel, because only a single management application is required to service and support all clients.
- Reveals traffic and capacity statistics for improved performance, quality, and service levels.
- Aids with capacity analysis and trending that can trigger new equipment recommendations for expanded capacity.
- Reduces finger pointing when problems occur by quickly identifying the root causes, and documents response windows and Mean Time to Repair statistics.
- Builds value with clients by documenting ongoing service performance, and mitigates disputes with clients by ensuring accurate accountability.
- Provides visibility into the effectiveness of support personnel.
Prior to converged communication management software such as ReliaTel, it was difficult if not impossible to monitor and manage devices from multiple vendors in a single application. As a result, MSPs attempting to manage numerous clients’ technology mix faced skyrocketing costs, significant technical hurdles, and inefficient business processes.
Now, MSPs using robust converged communication management software are well positioned to offer comprehensive converged voice management services, while containing overhead costs. The more cost effectively an MSP can equip its NOC (News
) to meet all clients’ needs, the more profitable it can be. This creates the lucrative opportunity to up sell expanded service offerings to cover broader technologies from more manufacturers, including Web conferencing, unified messaging, and unified communications.
To grow their business, MSPs can now pursue new clients with the assurance that they will be able to cost effectively support many clients' converged voice systems, regardless of the manufacturer and configuration that each client uses. And, because overhead costs can be contained, MSPs can be more aggressive and competitive when pursuing these new clients.Jessica Kostek is a channel editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Jessica’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jessica Kostek