When in an office with a computer and fixed IP phone line, it’s very easy to access all the data you have at hand and share it with others who need to see it. A workforce that’s mobile, though, can be a huge headache in terms of Unified Communications (UC), though, unless the corporation as a strong UC solution in place. Otherwise, users simply end up jumping between fragments of fixed-line and mobile UC applications and voice calls, which is not the point of UC in the first place. An enterprise can boost productivity and aid how workers communicate and collaborate, simply by equipping them with smartphones that have UC clients on them.
At this time, there are many options for such clients, including lightweight SIP apps, third-party mobile convergence products, and native apps from UC vendors.
SIP based UC clients
Some enterprises have taken a do-it-yourself path to mobile UC by creating client apps based on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). These clients offer solutions to an organization in which the technology doesn’t have a native mobile client; one example would be Asterisk. The Android OS has a native SIP stack, and has since version 2.3; similarly, the Apple App Store has over 250 SIP clients and related apps. A UC manager, however, will have to be careful about the software chosen, as not all client audio codecs are compatible with those of the organization’s IP telephony system.
Mobile Unified Communications via third-party FMC products
The touchstone goal for a mobile UC client is this: Does it seamlessly provide Fixed Mobile Convergence, or FMC? This refers to the integration of communications across the UC infrastructure of the enterprise, across its fixed and mobile networks.
You don’t have to use the native mobile UC clients — there are third-party FMC solutions that offer viable alternatives.
In case you’re still using BlackBerry products, RIM has the BlackBerry Mobile Voice System (MVS), which is intended to connect IP telephony and switched circuit solutions with RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). As there is a secure linkage providing UC for the mobile devices and the BES, there is no need for a VPN. Alas, this ability is only given to BlackBerries, so organizations that have embraced a more heterogeneous approach will need to look elsewhere for a broader solution.
Functioning much like the MVS solution, however, is ShoreTel‘s Mobility Router. This option connects disparate, heterogeneous devices to a broader range of IP telephony solutions. It does not matter if those devices are coming from a 3G/4G network, WiFi hotspot, or wireless LAN.
Natively Run Apps From UC Vendors
Many UC vendors have provided free native apps that run very well on smartphones. Avaya and Cisco Systems are just two of the developers that have created such apps for Apple products, freely available for download from the App Store. Although free, these apps do require licensing and authentication to make the proper connections to your existing enterprise UC infrastructure.
The functionality of these native UC clients varies wildly, though. While some offer a fully featured solution that has the majority of the features of a desk phone, there are others that offer only basic access. This type simply enables a user to send their desk extension to their mobile.
Ensure Your Infrastructure is Mobile UC Ready
Your enterprise infrastructure will have to be robust enough in order for your mobile UC deployment to be successful. Rest assured that users that have the capability of using mobile UC will push it to its limits when they get the chance. UC managers should therefore coördinate with the network team to make sure the wireless LAN is ready for the users. Mobile VoIP users will want their devices to work wherever they are — between floors or buildings, or even in stairwells.
Michelle Patterson has learned and written about the new IP based communication technologies. She loves sharing her information so that businesses and business owners could take advantage of these technologies.