Using a unified communications service provider means trusting that the provider has your best interest in mind and will provide a reliable service. But how can you protect your business and be sure your provider is practicing unified communications best practices? In this article, we'll go through several areas to investigate for both new and existing providers. In this way, you'll be doing an audit on providers and have a good idea of what is important when it comes to choosing a reliable provider.

Outsourcing your communications to a cloud-based service provider has many advantages - namely the reduction in maintenance and cost. That is all offloaded onto the service provider. The entire communications experience then boils down to simply installing a unified communications application on each desktop. Everything you need for communications is accessed through that one app.

But on the other side of that app, what is happening? Without visiting the provider's facility, which is usually not practical, there are a few areas to research and ask questions about. Much of this information can be found on the provider's website. If it isn't listed there, you can email the provider with any questions.

Areas To Research And Questions To Ask

The following is a checklist of areas that you can check on your provider's website. Your research will reveal how the provider handles critical areas of its operations and thus your operations. After all, if something negatively impacts the provider, it can also impact your business. The following is basically a list of unified communications use cases. Your service provider should be able to pass all of them.

State of the art servers. The provider's servers will be managing communications for 100s or even 1000s of customers. Its servers need to be able to maintain load and continue operating in the event of a hardware failure. Also, check what type of certifications the provider has and any auditing that is performed. For example, some of the highest levels of certifications and auditing include ISO 17799 certified or SAS 70 Type II auditing. While that isn't necessary for all providers, it gives you an idea of what to look for.

Robust facility and redundancy. Facilities housing the data center need to have service protection mechanisms in place. What is their fire prevention like? Are there cameras throughout the facility? What is access control like? How is redundancy handled in the event something catastrophic happens to the facility? The latter question falls under the provider's Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery policy.

Hacking And Virus Prevention. Since many customers will be accessing the provider's servers and they are obviously available on the Internet, what measures has the provider taken to prevent hacks? How are they handling virus prevention and detection?

Security and access control. Cameras have already been mentioned as a requirement. But how does the provider handle employee access to servers? It isn't necessary for an employee to be in the facility to access a server. In that case, cameras aren't any help. Instead, server logins should be audited and access tightly controlled. As well, all of your sensitive data should be encrypted and accessible only by you and employees you've added to a restricted group.

Administration Panel. An administration panel allows you to configure your communications software and grant access levels to employees. Does the panel do everything you need? Make a list of what is most important when it comes to configuring your software.

To summarize the main points in this article:

  • Unified communications best practices is a checklist that any service provider should be able to meet.
  • High-grade servers, redundancy, security, and access control are just a few of the areas included in these best practices.
  • You can research any provider using their website. Whatever is missing on the website that you have questions about can be emailed to the provider.

Your business needs every cog in your machine to be as productive as possible. With 8x8's Team Messaging System your business gets the unified messaging it needs without the need for multiple disparate systems. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.

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