Using Open Source Unified Communications in the Enterprise Requires Commercial Support

Global-bgRecently, one of our global enterprise clients was looking to unify their communications platform in their North American locations. They were contemplating transitioning from the open source sipXcom unified communications software to eZuce’s commercial Uniteme UC software. The enterprise account, a global organization, is one of the largest suppliers to the printing and packaging industry worldwide. With over 7,000 employees worldwide and 120 locations, the business has grown organically over the years and has made multiple acquisitions. Both growth and acquisitions contributed to a heterogeneous voice infrastructure comprised of multiple vendor solutions.The IT staff working within the North American region contacted eZuce about options for replacing their aging voice platforms and moving to a singular unified communications platform. They mentioned that they had implemented the sipXcom open source code at a number of their European locations and were very satisfied with the results. The solution had been deployed and was managed by an eZuce partner out of Germany and included level 1-2 technical support, proactive system monitoring and schedule administrative changes. The North America team was looking to deploy the same approach throughout their North American locations.

The next step was to connect the NA team with a local partner that could support their project and be available to provide Day 2 support for up to 40 locations across the US and Canada. The NA team wanted to learn more about the benefits of eZuce’s Uniteme commercial software as compared to the open source sipXcom used in Europe. As with most commercial open source models, Uniteme includes features and capabilities not available in the open source version. With Uniteme you also benefit from the commercial grade Service Level Agreement (SLA) and software maintenance available from eZuce. Lastly, the cost of the commercial licenses would not be an issue due to eZuce’s policy that benefits existing sipXcom users should they wish to switch to the commercial version.

After identifying a qualified partner in the US, eZuce began working with their European partner to understand the design and service delivery model already implemented by the account. Working together with the European partner and a local US partner, we drafted a design and service delivery model. We left the door open for the account, and they could choose the sipXcom open source software or the eZuce Uniteme version. The first phase within the US locations was to check for VoIP readiness at the pilot site. As a manufacturer and services provider, the IP infrastructure in each setting might vary depending on the type of site and therefore assuming the location is ready for VoIP was not an option.

In designing to the North American requirement, it was decided that the end goal would be to have the same unified communications capabilities across all four regions (North America, Latin America, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific) where possible. The service delivery model would need to be consistent as well. The objective was to define a multi-year plan to migrate the remaining sites to Uniteme and upgrade the installed sipXcom sites at a later time. Each site will have a combination of pro-active monitoring and remote administration services. This will provide preemptive support to minimize service degradation's and outages while offloading local IT staff of administrative tasks associated with the day-to-day management of users and system resources. eZuce coordinated the support roles between multiple partners and regions to create a single service umbrella capable of supporting the enterprise on a worldwide basis. Each partner will implement similar and consistent service delivery capabilities in support of the account.

Given the similarities between sipXcom and Uniteme, the service delivery model and the ability to support both open source and commercial installations is basically the same. eZuce’s Level 3 technical support and engineering resources are capable of providing services for both implementations of the software. This is possible due to the proximity of the resources to the open source code at sipXcom. The vast majority of this code is developed by eZuce and put out to sipXcom making eZuce the resident expert and development resource for the project.
Our partners provide level 1-2 support within open source and commercial software implementations while eZuce provides level 3 support and software development. This is a model that works very well and has been successful in giving enterprises confidence in using sipXcom. This synergistic relationship between partners, customers, and eZuce, has been the basis for the growth of sipXcom and eZuce.

If your organization is contemplating an open source based unified communications solution on an enterprise-wide basis, consider a solution that has commercial level 3 technical support and software maintenance available from experts who develop the open source code. A key question to ask a partner providing an open source based solution is can you provide timely, tested software fixes and enhancements. Partners may be very good at level 1-2 support, monitoring and managed services, however, if they have to post to the open source forum when a real problem occurs they do not have the ability to provide software maintenance and a service level agreement with guaranteed response and resolution times. The best scenario is working with an expert partner and overlaying a level 3 and software maintenance service over the level 1-2 support provided by the partner.

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Written by Jerry Stabile

Jerry Stabile

A thought leader and innovator, Jerry leads the team at eZuce as they change the way the enterprise interacts and collaborates. An industry veteran, he is committed to changing the status quo and has a proven track of success in the unified communications and collaboration industry. Jerry is also an outspoken advocate for open source software and works diligently to support projects such as sipXcom and many others.

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