Oct 17 2012

The “Cumulus Benefits” of CDW Cloud Collaboration

Feature-rich collaboration tools are now available through the cloud.

All organizations roll out ­ambitious, often costly, ­technology initiatives with the aim of optimizing operations and boosting productivity. But in the end, the success of these efforts typically comes down to one thing: everyday human interactions.

Two emerging technologies for improving collabo­ration and ­optimizing infra­structure are unified communications and cloud computing. Collaboration encompasses a variety of communication tools, including voice and voicemail, mobility, video conferencing, instant messaging and presence. The cloud provides a mechanism for delivering an integrated mix of these capabilities while ­addressing drawbacks that are ­common to ­traditional UC rollouts.

Highway to Heaven

The cloud's pay-as-you-go model eliminates the need for the substantial initial capital outlays associated with UC rollouts, says Andy Dignan, ­director of collaboration solutions for CDW. Implementation also can occur faster because procuring UC services entails little more than ordering them from the provider.

"Speed to market is valuable in today's work environments," Dignan says. "Rather than a longer, drawn-out on-premises rollout, UC in the cloud offers a quick jump to new, valuable features."

Contracting with a third-party provider also offloads the operational and troubleshooting responsibilities for these tools, reducing the day-to-day management burden on the IT team. With a cloud delivery of UC, "you don't need a large staff to ­manage the UC system," Dignan says.

Team Effort

CDW recently introduced the CDW Cloud Collaboration ­solution, which bundles UC and collaboration tools from Cisco Systems with CDW's managed services. "These are ­collaboration tools, managed for you, in the cloud," Dignan says.

Although this is a new solution, CDW isn't new to UC or to hosting collaboration tools. "CDW has ­completed more than 4,000 Cisco UC deployments over the past decade," he adds. "Our staff is quite familiar with this technology."

CDW hosts the service at its own Tier III-IV facility, which runs 8.2 megawatts of power to support world-class virtualization, storage and optimization services. The components are fully redundant, offering four nines of uptime.

"We offer customers their own secure private network core built on VMware products," Dignan says. "Their data never mixes or touches other tenants' data." With this security and expertise backing its UC-in-the-cloud service, CDW can deliver peace of mind to organizations. And that's what matters, Dignan adds, because it ­allows staff to ­focus on what really drives their mission — those human ­interactions.

Avoiding the Bundle Blues

Many traditional telecommunications carriers offer a lot of ­features in their unified communications offerings. But is bundling all of these features always the best fit for an organization?

"CDW's experience has been that customers don't typically want to be locked into a single carrier" for all of their UC needs, says Andy Dignan, director of collaboration solutions for CDW. "With the CDW Cloud Collaboration solution, we're not bundling in everything. We can be carrier-neutral."

Additionally, the new CDW offering isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. If an IT department already has contracts, it doesn't have to rip out everything onsite and create a new ­infrastructure to accommodate a change in service provider or to add services.

"We can integrate our solution with other providers," Dignan says. "Customers like this kind of flexibility."