INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL

Defining Intelligent Communication

Zenitel challenges the audio market to set an industry standard

The way people and businesses communicate is ever evolving, and with that, so are the communication products.

Now more than ever, people want a product that will allow them to hear, be heard and be understood, according to Jim Hoffpauir, the president of Zenitel North America.

It is with that sentiment that Hoffpauir and Zenitel have launched a new term that encompasses that notion: intelligent communication.

“Folks are saying, ‘What does that mean?’ and I tried to come up with a very simple definition for it,” Hoffpauir said. “It is communication between systems and within business processes, and it includes data and it also includes voice audio. Crowd control, campus messaging and identity assurance are all aspects of intelligent communications.”

Hoffpauir said the new term was needed because how people think about communication has changed in recent years.

“Intercom or communication has been so bad for so long that nobody could see it as an essential part of their business processes in security, resilience and business operations,” he said. “And that is because what they need is to hear, to be heard and to be understood every single time they need to and in every single environment. What we try and help folks understand is that not every environment is stable. As a matter of fact, a majority of environments are unstable and are filled with dynamic noise.”

With its communication products, Zenitel helps to manage those dynamic noise environments so that their customers can hear and be understood no matter what is happening in their environment.

Hoffpauir said intelligent communication products can be found essentially anywhere somebody needs to communicate.

Some of those examples include inside an elevator car where entrapments are a huge concern, inside manufacturing facilities where overhead speakers might be needed to communicate and in a parking structure where people pull up to the gate and need to communicate.

“If you’re up at the MBTA in Boston you will find us on every single train platform that’s there, where there is an emergency communication point, in a very high-noise environment so that any of the patrons that are walking through that need assistance can just push a button and be able to talk.”

The IT Mandate

Hoffpauir said one of the most understated and underserved needs of an organization is the “IT Mandate.”

“The IT mandate is a fundamental shift in the industry right now,” he said. What the IT mandate pertains to is physical servers. And for you to provide operational efficiency in a business you really need to have a robust physical audio server in place so that it can deliver these deep integrations and strong configurations that deliver capabilities that help run your business. Well, IT departments don’t want physical servers any longer. They are wanting to go virtual. Well, the one application that does not operate in virtual and has never been suited to operate well in virtual is communications.”

Hoffpauir said this is the biggest misconception in the marketplace adding that virtual servers do not support communication applications well because virtual environments are about sharing data resources not about sharing process resources.

To address the mandate, Hoffpauir said Zenitel took a step back to see how they could remove the physical server and still deliver a “rich, robust communication platform that is easy to use.”

“We wanted a platform that delivers interoperability in their business environment day in and day out and also supports the risk and resilience strategy and be secure. That’s how we came up with IC-EDGE or intelligent communication at the edge. It doesn’t require a physical server because the controllers are embedded right at the edge.”

Cyber Defensibility

In an age where everything is moving to the cloud, and physical servers seem to be a thing of the past, having a communication product that is secure is important to customers.

“Cyber defensibility is number one right now,” Hoffpauir said. “If you talk to anybody who talks about IP infrastructure, the highest threat of any IT network is a porous hole or opportunity for anyone to gain access to the network.”

Hoffpauir said one of the most common applications that people see today in communications is IP communication, which means people are sitting on open networks. “What is the new trend that you see? It’s people who want to have mobility, and when you have mobility you start to jump off secure networks; you start to jump on more open platforms,” he said.

To make sure their communication products were secure, Zenitel went out and adopted the CIS Standard. The standard lists ten items that a system should conform to in order to help safeguard public and private organizations against cyber threats.

“We are trying to deliver in our products and services those first top five items,” Hoffpauir said. “That’s the standard we want to challenge the marketplace with. We want them to get out there and start applying applications and solutions to a standard that everybody can trust. The industry is lacking a scorecard.”

Hoffpauir said he thinks more than ever consultants are realizing just because a vendor gave them a configuration catalogue, it does not mean it is the standard by which voice and audio should be integrated into the value of their client’s security program.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Security Today.

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