Unified communications monitoring – 8 tips for monitoring unified communications and video conferencing systems
Over the last year there’s been a huge need for companies of all sizes to adopt a unified communications system. Here are some top tips for MSPs wanting to develop managed services around unified communications systems.
As COVID-19 hit the globe in 2020, remote work was forced on the entire world. Businesses of all shapes, sizes and industries have had to cope with remote working whether they wanted to or not.
A major factor in a successful remote workforce is a unified communications system with solid, easy to use video conferencing capabilities.
Although video conferencing is really common and popular, not all companies are equipped to manage these systems on their own. Many organizations lack the internal technical resources to manage their own video conferencing needs, thus requiring more support.
IT Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are perfectly positioned to meet these needs.
Here are some of the top things to consider when getting started with managing video conferencing systems.
1) Recognize monitoring unified communications systems as a *huge* opportunity for MSPs
Before the pandemic hit, many organizations still resisted adopting any kind of remote working.
Fast forward to 2020 and all businesses of all sizes have had to learn to cope with it.
The difference right now is that (UC) unified communications systems are no longer an add-on, or nice-to-have. These systems are imperative for business continuity and daily operations.
With companies relying so heavily on unified communications there is a new opportunity for MSPs to provide new monitoring services for these systems.
2) Check home office hardware
The hardware being used at a home office is a big factor in how a unified communications system performs especially in terms of video conferencing.
Remote employees usually don’t have their typical workplace set-ups at home. At home they could have a strung together system including a mix of both their own and corporate hardware.
This means you are likely to find outdated PCs, laptops, and cameras that are definitely not high resolution.
In addition, typical homes use Internet Service Provider networking hardware, which may not be as efficient as the network equipment used at the office. When multiple home users are on the network at the same time, this can significantly reduce expected performance.
Tip for checking home office hardware: A network monitoring system like Domotz is designed for identifying all devices on a remote network. Use a network monitoring system to analyze all devices to ensure that home office hardware and software specs are up-to-date for optimal unified communications system and video conferencing performance. Ensure that PCs, laptops, routers and webcams are up-to-date and if they are not, recommend the required hardware upgrades to ensure optimal video conferencing performance.
3) Manage deployments and updates as part of your managed video conferencing service
The hardware codecs of unified communications systems are often difficult to deploy and require a fair amount of network configuration. The soft codecs on PCs and laptops often need configuration and ongoing maintenance.
This means there is a new opportunity for MSPs to manage the deployments and upkeep of these systems.
Tip for managing network configurations: Use a tool for network configuration management to ensure employees are running the right software.
4) Be aware of software limitations in unified communications systems
There are many unified communications systems and they all have different features and strengths like any other software category. Be up to speed on which systems have which limitations.
Unified Communications Systems:
- Microsoft Teams
- LogMeIn (GoToMeeting / GoToWebinar)
- Blue Jeans
Video Conferencing Specific Systems:
- Google Hangouts
Many of your customers likely use Microsoft Teams for internal communication and are pretty satisfied with it. The big issue with Teams is that you can only see 4 video screens at the same time. For companies that want more than 4 people in a meeting (mostly every company with more than 4 employees nowadays), this is a huge limitation.
This is why a lot of companies have also added Zoom to their stack in addition to Teams.
As an MSP it’s important to be aware of the different available software and which features can best meet your customers’ needs for different online contexts.
5) Be aware of security, zoombombers and privacy issues
Although many organizations are using Zoom as a piece of their unified communications system, the software has been increasingly under fire for its security and privacy concerns. In addition, zoombombers are on the rise. While some zoombombers are just pranksters others are fraudsters with malicious intent that are trying to get confidential information to use for their own benefit, which can pose a serious security risk to a business.
Yet companies love Zoom because it is seamless and cheap. It always performs well, it is super easy to use and 100 people can join a meeting for free.
MSPs are definitely an important part of ensuring that Zoom meeting protocol and security best practices are followed to mitigate security, privacy and zoombombing concerns.
Tip to mitigate zoombombers, privacy and security concerns: Develop a security protocol for using video conferencing systems. Ensure remote employees are using the right settings and following the best practices when using unified communications tools.
6) Check WiFi speeds for better unified communications system performance
The quality of a video is critically important in the context of an online meeting. We all know what it is like being on a video call with someone who’s WiFi connection is not strong enough.
We’ve all seen “your connection is unstable,” more than we want to on Zoom calls.
When someone’s WiFi connection is not strong enough, the video doesn’t work, the sound is muffled and they may repeatedly ask “can you hear me?” etc.)
For others on the call this is frustrating, calls take longer and sometimes another meeting has to be scheduled which wastes everyone’s time.
Insufficient WiFi speed is a major factor in unified communications performance especially when it comes to video conferencing. As an MSP you need to be able to identify remote employees with less than optimal WiFi performance.
Tip for checking WiFi / ISP speeds: A network monitoring system like Domotz includes WiFi speed tests and reports over time. This can help you identify which employees have network connections that need improvement. The purpose of this is two-fold. 1) you’ll have data to show which connections are not good enough and thus mitigate being blamed for things that are not your fault 2) you’ll be able to identify which employees need improved WiFi speeds in their home office.
7) Unified Communication Systems need layered security solutions
It’s critical that remote work setups offer the same level of security that an office does.
The most powerful defense against cyberthreats when building a secure remote workforce is end users themselves.
You can help end users act with security in mind by administering cyber security awareness training. In addition, develop security protocols for your unified communication and video conferencing tools that encourage the use of unique meeting IDs, unique passwords and notifications to keep track of who is entering a meeting room.
These steps should be part of a larger security strategy which may include multiple authentication levels, encryption, firewalls, fraud analytics and other stuff.
8) Develop new services for unified communications that cater to remote workforces
This year has changed the way that people work in a lot of ways which are better for both employees and companies. Many employees are happier and more productive working from home and companies are saving a lot of money.
Travelling to an office takes time. And many employees are finding a better work life balance working remotely.
Many companies have realized they can save a lot of money when their employees can meet internally and externally online. Office space costs a lot. Attending events cost a lot. Meeting other people in person costs a lot.
The expenses required for in-person meetings (airfare, hotel bills, gas mileage, meals) add up quickly and if employees can meet efficiently online, the need for in-person meetings will continue to decrease moving forward.
Unified communications systems that perform well, are essential to today’s businesses.
If MSPs can help unified communications systems perform well, companies will want these services.
If you’ve not started working on services around unified communications systems, now is the right time.
Having a solid managed offer around these services will help your MSP continue to be relevant for all the companies with remote workforces and distributed employees. (Which right now is almost all of them!).
- What is SNMP and how does it work?
- Top reasons to add a network monitoring tool to your MSP tech stack
- MSP IoT: Top IoT devices MSPs are monitoring