Beyond email, technologies like telephony, voice mail, video conferencing, and messaging promote collaboration between employees and teams. Unfortunately, managing and integrating multiple collaboration applications on a day-to-day basis is often cumbersome and unwieldy.
To this end, Cisco provides Cisco Collaboration, a suite of unified communications (UC) applications that helps organizations bring people together from anywhere and via any device. Cisco Collaboration bundles different products, such as Cisco Unified Communications Manager (phone system), Unity Connection (voice mail), Webex Meetings (video conferencing), Webex Teams/Jabber (messaging), call center products and others, under one umbrella to simplify the end-user experience across diverse applications. However, this unique solution brings with it another complexity.
IT teams often struggle to onboard new employees onto the Cisco UC platform, requiring them to go into every single application to create numerous configuration settings for individual workers and devices, a process that is time-consuming, repetitive, and prone to human error. The complexity of this onboarding process demands a significant amount of time, drawing resources away from other important IT initiatives. Furthermore, misconfigurations can cause disruptions in services or system outages, which may impact the entire organization.
Akkadian Labs, a Cisco Preferred Solution Partner with a comprehensive understanding of the Cisco Collaboration suite of applications, has automated the complicated process of employee onboarding with its flagship product—Akkadian Provisioning Manager. The solution sits on top of Cisco Collaboration and can work across clusters, locations, and servers. It provides Cisco UC admins with a single pane of glass, integrating all Cisco UC applications. Simply put, admins need only to input the employee information into Akkadian Provisioning Manager once to automatically build accounts across all the intended Cisco UC applications and devices.
“By automating moves, adds, changes and deletes (MACD), Akkadian Provisioning Manager allows collaboration managers and infrastructure engineers to concentrate on strategic initiatives, instead of wasting time on repetitive manual tasks,” says Tom Bamert, the Chief Product Officer at Akkadian Labs.
The bulk provisioning feature of Akkadian Provisioning Manager is particularly valuable for corporate mergers/acquisitions, onboarding, and offboarding employees, or enabling work from home capabilities. The solution allows admins to create accounts for a large number of workers at the same time.
For instance, Meredith Corporation—a national print and digital media company—was struggling to onboard 2,400 new users to the Cisco UC platform after its acquisition of Time Inc. “Leveraging the bulk provisioning feature, they created accounts for all the new employees over a single weekend. This allowed them to save a lot of time and complications in terms of migrating people,” Bamert elucidates. This feature has also been a game-changer during the current COVID-19 lockdown, where employers have had to quickly provision a huge number of workers with remote collaboration applications.
By automating moves, adds, changes and deletes (MACD), Akkadian Provisioning Manager allows collaboration managers and infrastructure engineers to concentrate on strategic initiatives, instead of wasting time on repetitive manual tasks
Akkadian Labs also supports “zero-touch onboarding” for Cisco UC. Leveraging a native integration with Microsoft Active Directory (AD), it finds the details of new employees from AD and creates their accounts in different Cisco UC applications directly, without any manual work. Additionally, with its RESTful API, the solution also allows direct connectivity with third-party ITSM, HR, and identity management software applications like ServiceNow, PeopleSoft, and Workday. “This is the next level of automation where even the least human intervention is not needed,” says Bamert. Akkadian Provisioning Manager also has a self-service portal that enables employees to resolve simple issues, like PIN resets, without reaching out to the Service Desk, saving IT teams a considerable amount of time and effort.
All this automation also comes with high levels of security. Akkadian Provisioning Manager allows admins to set role-based administrative privileges for Service Desk employees, limits unnecessary access to the Cisco UC back-end, tracks user activity, and minimizes data input errors with its “single pane of glass” approach.
Thanks to these unique capabilities, which save enormous time and effort, Akkadian Provisioning Manager has garnered enormous customer satisfaction and market traction. And this is just one product they have created for simplifying the management of Cisco Collaboration. Their other products include Akkadian Console, which simplifies call handling; Akkadian Contact Manager, which streamlines data management for company directories; and Akkadian Site Builder, which helps to set up CUCM for new locations. All told, Akkadian Labs has Cisco Collaboration covered.
With a zeal for innovation, Akkadian Labs is in a constant process of improving the user experience and making the solution as customer-centric as possible. In fact, they have recently launched version 5.0 of Akkadian Provisioning Manager, which includes a more modern user interface, and boasts even greater performance and tighter security. “Akkadian Provisioning Manager 5.0 is a big leap in terms of streamlining the user experience. We have significantly reduced the provisioning time, improved its security, and made the product more flexible,” concludes Bamert.