Collaboration Service Management in the Cloud Era

Guest Blog by Tim Armstrong, Vice President, Product Marketing, Nectar

Collaboration Service Management in the Cloud Era

Whenever a major technology shift starts transforming an entire industry, there are those who are for it and those that are against it. Most often, the dissenting opinions tend to come from those that stand to lose the most in the transition. These are the organisations or people that have deeply established business models or investments in the technology approach that is perceived to be in decline as the industry moves to something new. Many personal and corporate fortunes have been created by those that take bold, well-timed risks around one of these shifts, but the opposite is true as well when organisations are left on the losing side. In the UC and Collaboration industry, the most significant technology shift of our time is undoubtedly the move to the cloud.

Tim Armstrong

Tim Armstrong

There are several reasons why the UC industry has been something of a laggard when compared to other workloads in the broader IT industry. Decades of infrastructure investments specific to telephony combined with a widespread belief that voice doesn’t do well over the internet have resulted in a slowly melting glacier of resistance. While the industry may be slow to move, the momentum is clearly in favour of this shift. If for no other reason the consumer technology experiences that we have all become familiar with in our personal lives will push enterprise IT to embrace the functionality and uniquely enabled scenarios offered by cloud-bases solutions.

It hopefully feels like ancient history, but it was only a few years ago that some of the most significant naysayers resisting the shift to cloud-based UC were the UC Managed Service Providers. This makes sense; on the surface, it feels like much of the value offered by managed service providers would be replaced by the cloud provider themselves. To this day, I still find quite a lot of confusion and misunderstanding in our industry around the role that UC Managed Service Providers can play in this modern era of collaboration.

In my experience, one of the most misunderstood and, frankly, dangerous assumptions that many enterprise IT leaders make when it comes to considering a transition to cloud-based UC is a belief that moving to the cloud will solve all (or most) of an organisations user experience issues. There is a sense that voice and video are complicated so let’s just move this thing to the cloud and all our issues will go away or, more accurately, be somebody else’s problem.  In the context of this assumption, I think it’s very helpful to look at the health of a collaboration environment holistically.

When considering the many technology factors that could contribute positively or negatively to user’s experience with any voice and/or video-based collaboration, it’s helpful to segment them into three distinct UC Health Domains:

  • Platform
  • Network
  • Endpoint

The three UC Health Domains provide a framework for thinking about service management in both traditional and modern UC environments. This framework also helps explain the easy-to-comprehend reason why enterprises should continue to invest in Service Management when moving to the cloud and why the assumption of all their problems will be fixed by moving to the cloud is a dangerous one. In short, when UC is moved to the cloud, it is only the platform domain that moves and that is only 1/3 of the entire solution. Frankly, the platform has never been the leading source of user-experience issues anyway. The remaining 2/3’s of the health domains, (network and endpoint) remain squarely in the responsibility zone of the enterprise. The real value of a strong service management approach for voice and video collaboration is the ability to deliver great user experiences. You simply cannot do that without paying attention to the network and endpoint environments because these are where the issues tend to come from.

Now, before we go any further on the health domains, there is another major consequence of this industry transition to the cloud that needs to be addressed: multiple vendors. Real-world enterprise implementations in this modern era of collaboration are almost always, multi-vendor. Even when they’re not (which is very rare), they are certainly multi-platform and will be for many years of migration.

For enterprises and service providers alike, the opportunity to get the most out of our industry’s transition to the cloud will be a continued focus on delivering great user experiences and an understanding that an effective service management approach needs to acknowledge the reality of today’s multi-vendor, multi-platform, multi-network and multi-device world.

As UC professionals, it’s our job to become the experts and identify the tools that can help tame the mounting complexity of this modern era of collaboration. Everyone wants their collaboration technology to be easy to use and highly reliable in an era when it’s actually getting more complex. Therein lies the opportunity.

Gone are the days of living in a single-vendor, single health domain mindset. The future of this opportunity will fall to those with the tools and services that are purpose-built for maintaining multi-vendor, hybrid voice and video environments with a focus on delivering great user experiences.


Guest Blog by Tim Armstrong, Vice President, Product Marketing, Nectar
A 20-year veteran of the communications and collaboration industry, Tim is responsible for Nectar’s product marketing including product positioning, messaging and supporting business development efforts. Tim has held positions in all major categories of the UC industry including consulting, carriers and vendors, including a ten-year career at Microsoft. Tim’s responsibilities at Microsoft spanned business development, marketing leadership and executive operations roles. Prior to Microsoft, Tim worked in a variety of sales and technical roles in the IT and telecommunications industries.  Based in Seattle, Tim and his wife, Jennifer are proud parents of two young daughters.  On the weekends, the Armstrong family can often be found at their small family-owned winery, hosting guests and working to produce wines from the finest vineyards in the Columbia Valley of Washington State.


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