Unified Communications solutions have been integral to the enterprise for years, and as remote work becomes more common, the attack surface and potential for challenging performance issues increases with it. Remote workers logging in from new, unmanaged devices, shared devices, and generally using more UC services than ever will lead to more and more service issues and potential security leaks.
On top of that, as with every type of enterprise solution, on-premises products will be replaced by those based in the cloud. The move to cloud-based solutions enables agility, but, as any person in IT Operations will remind you, digital transformation rarely happens in isolation. With each migration, the operations necessary to monitor and maintain that solution must also be able to function in the cloud.
The adoption of cloud on a large scale has spurred the invention and adoption of new technologies to address new ways of communicating–including conferencing, telephony, chat, and file sharing. These solutions make up an emerging category referred to as unified communications as a service (UCaaS). While some UCaaS platforms are more established, the category is growing quickly—and so is the need to monitor these platforms for performance and risk management. Organizations will need to adopt cloud-native security and performance monitoring solutions in order to cover changing patterns in UCaaS usage.
In the recently released Market Guide for UCaaS Monitoring (access via Gartner's website here), Gartner explores UCaaS adoption, including key findings and recommendations, and the current state of the category.
Gartner sets the stage of the Market Guide with a definition of the market: "UCaaS monitoring tools measure the UCaaS user experience by providing key performance indicators (KPIs), visibility and insight based on application, session and network availability, performance, and health from multiple sources. An instantiation of digital experience monitoring, UCaaS monitoring tools combine elements of application and network performance monitoring capabilities."
The Market Guide also includes a list of Representative Vendors, of which ExtraHop is one. The vendors are broken up based on "traditional" UCaaS monitoring, "cloud-native" UCaaS monitoring, and UCaaS providers monitoring capabilities. Traditional UC monitoring providers are vendors that have expanded into also monitoring UCaaS solutions. Meanwhile, cloud-native UC monitoring providers supply monitoring capabilities as stand-alone tools and services.
While many of the vendors specialize exclusively in UCaaS monitoring, we believe that the inclusion of "traditional" vendors like ExtraHop acknowledges alternative ways to effectively monitor UCaaS systems, including leveraging network protocol analysis in multicloud and hybrid environments to ensure the availability of applications and to monitor the performance of distributed, real-time connections.
Here are some of the key findings from Gartner's Market Guide for UCaaS Monitoring:
"Premises-based UC enterprise clients are adopting unified communications as a service (UCaaS) but are finding the monitoring capabilities used for premises-based proprietary endpoints and systems are ill-suited for use in the UCaaS environment," according to the report.
UCaaS platforms enable enterprises to be more distributed while maintaining, or even improving, communication. However, the IT Operations teams responsible for making this transformation will find that the tools they previously used to monitor premise-based systems will not translate to cloud in most instances. New tools will need to be able to monitor complex communications in the cloud, across a diverse set of factors.
Cloud-native network detection and response (NDR) from ExtraHop provides complete visibility across on premises, hybrid, and cloud workloads in one unified platform.
"Selecting a UCaaS monitoring tool is difficult because there is wide variation in the UCaaS applications and endpoints monitored, data collected and reporting capabilities," according to the report.
UCaaS systems operate in highly distributed environments, across a variety of networks and endpoints. Users connect via whichever telephony systems, access types, and LAN categories are available to them. And variables like bring your own (BYO) devices, such as headsets, add additional complexities that have the potential to degrade the communication connections.
Few monitoring systems have the functionality to support visibility across all of these possible variables. Enterprises should select a vendor based on which UC they plan to use, but also the agnosticism and scale of the platform.
ExtraHop automatically discovers and groups devices, including IoT, and surfaces behavioral anomalies using advanced machine learning.
The Market Guide also outlines market developments that they anticipate over the next five years. In addition to increased adoption of UCaaS monitoring tools, Gartner predicts:
"Increased supplier reliance on machine learning for root cause analysis of troubles. Similarly, use of the same tools to rely on predictive capabilities to identify sources of possible new problems. These tools will also assess the impact of change in application usage, mix and other criteria on both UCaaS applications and supporting network and system infrastructure (see "Market Guide for AIOps Platforms")," according to the report.
We believe that AIOps platforms, of which ExtraHop is also a Representative Vendor, are adept at uncovering the root cause of issues in SaaS-based and hybrid environments thanks to their integration of observed data and behavioral analysis. Read more about Gartner's November 2019 Market Guide for AIOps Platforms here.
ExtraHop was also named a Representative Vendor in Gartner's Feburary 2019 Market Guide for Network Traffic Analysis. Read more about that guide here.
Read the full Gartner report for their step-by-step recommendations about UCaaS monitoring platforms, broad market insights, and vendor specifics.
Gartner, Market Guide for UCaaS Monitoring, Lisa Pierce, Rafael Benitez, Padraig Byrne, 6 February 2020
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.