Can Colleges Afford to Ignore Unified Communications?

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In our modern world, many college and university campuses operate in the same capacity as a business or company. While harnessing technology to handle advanced infrastructure, many collegiate IT departments continue to struggle with the advantages of Unified Communications. Given the ability to virtualize Unified Communication suites has made the technology more affordable. The main question these IT departments deal with is whether they can afford NOT to implement UC.

A recent article on further examined the topic of colleges and the need for Unified Communications. Essentially, the proliferation of consumer devices on campus is by far the biggest driver of UC adoption within higher education. In spite of the growing need, the complexity of a UC solution is a frequent deterrent.

The article continues by citing a 2012 Forrester Strategic ­Planning Forrsights ­Emerging ­Technology Survey, which asked 133 ­network and technology decision-makers at enterprises that have implemented UC with 1,000-plus employees to name the ­greatest ­obstacles to deployment. ­Fifty-three percent of respondents cited cost, while 44 percent said cited corporate or IT ­culture as not being conducive.

Institutions integrating VoIP need to realize the process requires a WAN and LAN upgrade to support PoE and real-time quality of service. At first glance, UC appears to be an expensive solution. But, over time, the institution will realize greater savings.

The survey further projects that utilizing centralized trunking as part of a VoIP project can save 15-20% on network overhead. UC works to reduce and even eliminate carrier costs, while driving an increase in savings related to staffing and management.

For colleges, UC also provides the benefit of affordable and virtually hosted servers. No physical gear means reduced spending on data centers. The centrally managed technology can scale easily and serve as the cornerstone of an institution's disaster recovery plan, eliminating the need for redundant hosts.

IT departments looking to persuade the provost's office or the board of trustees should do their homework when it comes to detailing the current costs of the ­functions a proposed UC suite would take over. They also should conduct a ­methodical analysis of how UC would be integrated with the ­enterprise infra­structure required to support it.

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