Software Assurance for Unified Communications | Busting Myths

2 min read

Javier Garcia-Plata

Javier Garcia-Plata | January 12, 2023

I had the opportunity to hold eye-opening conversations with Melissa Swartz, Founder of Swartz Consulting, and Rick Hathaway, Principal Consultant and Owner of RLH Telecom Solutions. They are reputed independent consultants who know the business communications industry inside-out and have customers in almost every business area.

Our conversation centered on software assurance (SWA) and support contracts for unified communications (UC). They unveiled some standard practices in the industry, clarified several widespread misunderstandings, and explained the value of SWA for any organization relying on UC to succeed.

Listen to the conversation above or read through it below.

Melissa Swartz: I'm Melissa Swartz. I am an independent consultant. I work in the unified communications, contact center, and wide area networking space. 

Rick Hathaway: My name is Rick Hathaway. I'm an independent consultant and member of the Society of Communication Technology Consultants.

Melissa Swartz: Software Assurance can be a confusing term. There's no standard definition within the industry. When I write an RFP, I try to break it down, and I think there are three parts to it. So, one is a hardware brake fix. And then, there are two components on the software side. So, one is a software break-fix. You need patches, security updates - those types of things. The other component is, I would call it, upgrades - new features and capabilities. 

Rick Hathaway: The term software assurance is probably a little fuzzy for many people to grasp initially because they're so used to working with server software and application software, and they consider the term software assurance to be just the regular updates, security patches, and minor bug fixes as opposed to something that adds value and adds feature functionality, as a product, goes through its lifecycle. 

Melissa Swartz: You need a comprehensive maintenance and software assurance solution for all three components. Some assume that software assurance is only software maintenance and security patches. And they don't know that in some cases, the definition of software assurance can include software updates and even hardware maintenance. So, it's worth asking the question, “what is included when you say software assurance?” because everybody categorizes it differently, and it's worth asking the question.

Rick Hathaway: The entry into a new engagement is usually through the technology division through a telecommunication director or a CIO, but once you get in the door, the other C-level people in the organization - the chief financial officer, chief operations officer, and even in many cases the marketing officer - get involved in the process. 

Melissa Swartz: Certainly, the CIO is a key and often the CFO because it's money-related and ensuring your communication ability is essential. If you ask a chief marketing officer what the perception and impact of having no communications for who knows how long are, it would be significant and hurt the corporate image. That can be an ugly situation. So, when there's a problem, if you do not have software assurance, then you’ll call your partner, your vendor, or your manufacturer, and you’ll say, “I have a problem. You know this isn't working.”

And the first question that they will ask, especially at the manufacturer level if you need manufacturer support, is, “what release are you on? There is a perception in the world that because communication technology is reliable, it must therefore be simple, and it is not simple. The other perception I think that is pretty common, and people just don't even think about, is that communication is like air - always there, and you always have it. And when you don't, it's critical. 

Rick Hathaway: When we recommend software assurance or ongoing maintenance programs, it offers them instant vendor support when needed. 

Melissa Swartz:
The CFO may look at it and say, well, you know, how many times have we used this, and is it worth paying for this service? You have to look at the bigger picture and say, would you not have business insurance? Would you not have fire coverage? Would you not have other types of insurance because this is essentially a type of insurance? 

Rick Hathaway: Having software insurance, and having those ongoing established maintenance programs, basically puts you at the front of the line.

Javier Garcia-Plata

Javier Garcia-PlataSenior Product Marketing Manager

Javier Garcia-Plata joined Mitel in 2022 as Senior Product Marketing Manager, bringing rich experience in customer strategy, business digitalization, and strategic new business development, leveraged in global companies including Canon, SunChemical, and Pearson. In his role as a product marketer, Javier helps to improve the experience of partners and users worldwide working with Mitel.

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