Got Skype? Here's One Simple Way to Save Big on Operational Costs

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If you're thinking about adopting Microsoft Skype for Business, or your organization already uses it, this article is for you. Skype for Business is a remarkable communications tool, but rolling it out touches every part of your infrastructure, from networks to endpoints.

And don't forget that choppy communications is likely your number one source for user complaints. To ensure a smooth rollout and to keep on top of troubleshooting, you need a tool like Riverbed SteelCentral™ UCExpert, which offers total visibility into Skype's effects on your network.

But don't take our word for it: A recent study from Nemertes Research shows that organizations that use third-party tools like SteelCentral UCExpert to monitor Skype for Business can save up to 63% on operational costs. Let's check out the details.

Skype: Great benefits, but more impactful than it looks

More and more organizations are looking to consolidate their unified communications environments on a single vendor — and Skype for Business is a strong contender for that role.

"Many organizations already have the Microsoft Skype for Business client on the desktop," says Irwin Lazar, Vice President and Service Director at Nemertes Research. "They're using it for messaging, and they might be using it for voice and video chat. Now they can make phone calls through it. That’s a pretty powerful solution."

But, as Nemertes Research found in its study, a Skype for Business implementation can give rise to unexpected operational costs. That isn't Microsoft's fault: rather, organizations aren't going in with their eyes open about the complexities of a Skype rollout. There are two main factors can add eat up IT's time and resources:

  • Network contention. If you're currently using a plain old telephone system or VoIP running on a dedicated virtual LAN, you're likely accustomed to communications data being isolated on its own network. With Skype, in contrast, that data will now be competing with other packets for network resources, making it hard to predict traffic loads, maintain call quality, and troubleshoot problems.
  • Endpoint trouble. In a Skype for Business implementation, users' smartphones and PCs serve as their connection to the Skype unified communications network — indeed, that's part of the appeal. But that means that there are a whole host of factors at the endpoints that can degrade call quality, from CPU oversaturation to misconnected headsets. And these aren't the sorts of problems network teams are used to tackling.

Get the right tools for the job

To spot these problems early and fix them quickly, or nip them in the bud, organizations need a suite of tools to monitor the health of their unified communications infrastructure, including both networks and endpoints. Unfortunately, Nemertes Research's survey of more than 700 organizations found that most muddled through with some combination of their existing network tools and free tools from their UC vendors.

The survey also showed that when organizations did invest in third-party tools to help manage their UC rollout, the benefits were stunning. Those Skype customers invested a bit more up front in capital expenditures, but paid dramatically less for operational costs over time, as shown in Figure 1.

Chart of Microsoft Customers Use of Managment Tools

Figure 1. Chart courtesy of Nemertes Research.

Riverbed to the rescue

Riverbed's deep expertise in network and infrastructure monitoring makes us the perfect partner for organizations looking to keep Skype for Business operational costs down over time.

At the center of any toolset will be Riverbed SteelCentral UCExpert, a complete solution to manage your Skype for Business environment. UCExpert can integrate information from other Riverbed tools, including:

This ensemble of solutions gives you total visibility into every part of your infrastructure, meaning that you'll be able to track down the source of trouble — whether it's in the network or on user devices. And with network- and infrastructure-quality metrics integrated into hop-by-hop media path views, you get a graphical illustration of the media path taken for a single call that lets you quickly isolate the source of network-based Skype for Business problems.

With these tools in hand, you can make your Skype for Business implementation a smooth and less costly one. That'll help your employees be more productive, cut down on complaints, and help your organization's bottom line.

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