DevOps happened before DevOps. That is, we had operations teams working with developers on relatively sophisticated workflow methodologies long before the technology industry decided to formalise this ‘workplace culture approach’ and give it a name.

As we know, DevOps has now extended to become DevSecOps with its meat-based security sandwich filling… and we can further stack the deal if we add AI and ML into the mix, typically right before the Ops factor to make sure operations is fed with the right data pipeline, pre-cleaned with Machine Learning to ensure we build our Ops layer with the most relevant data at all times.

What’s next for Ops in the possibly-post-pandemic world of working from home/anywhere? It may have to be UCaaS administration, or Unified Communication-as-a-Service label it in full. Logically part of wider Ops, nobody has quite used the term UCaaSOps (pronounced ooh-kah-sops) yet, but it can only be a matter of time.   

The tall stick company

If there is one firm likely to start using this term, then it might just be Palo Alto Networks.

Because we’re not in the 1980s and more and people no longer worry about routers, switches and token ring adapters in the age of the web and the cloud, no vendor actually refers to itself as a ‘networking specialist’ anymore. Instead, despite the name, we’re encouraged to think of Palo Alto Networks as a cybersecurity leader.

This quarter has seen the firm forge a new working relationship with Zoom Video Communications, Inc. to create joint solutions.

The rationale behind this new marriage is simple enough i.e. today when users report issues, IT admins (‘normal’ sysadmins) and Unified Communication-as-a-Service administrators do not have a single place to see end-to-end data quality information relating to an entire meeting lifecycle. 

“Network and UCaaS admins are responsible for the end-user application experience, but no product currently offers all the information necessary to troubleshoot, report and improve the application experience of remote workers,” said Pamela Cyr, vice president of technical partnerships, Palo Alto Networks.

Root causes, sticky calls

Cyr says that her team has worked with Zoom to create an integrated software service that offers ‘complete visibility’ into the root causes impacting meeting and call quality for end users.

Zoom’s communications platform has of course become very popular. Users expect a fast, high-quality and seamless meeting experience to maintain collaboration and high productivity. But in reality, hardware issues, poor Wi-Fi quality or Internet Service Provider (ISP) network challenges can potentially impact call or meeting quality. 

This diversity of issues makes it next to tough to identify problems, troubleshoot the root cause and resolve them quickly. 

“The new joint solution from Palo Alto Networks and Zoom integrates Palo Alto Networks Autonomous Digital Experience Management (ADEM) with Zoom’s Quality of Service Subscription (QSS) to provide all the relevant data across endpoints, meetings and the network in a single dashboard, providing insights that quickly identify and address the root cause of meeting and call issues,” notes the company, in a press statement. 

The integration of QSS with ADEM is said to enable IT teams to provide better user experiences and reduce the burden and cost of support tickets.

Beyond company walls

“Our mission is to make video communications frictionless and secure, while continuing to deliver the best possible user experience. The key to this is making sure that IT departments have the right tools to quickly tell them what is causing quality and service disruptions so they can fix them quickly,” said Brendan Ittelson, chief technology officer, Zoom. “Palo Alto Networks ADEM and Zoom’s Quality of Service Subscription together provide IT observability beyond the company walls to help ensure distributed workforces are fully enabled while optimising IT workflows.”

Palo Alto Networks and Zoom offer a joint solution to help IT: see the relevant data from endpoints, meetings and the network in a single dashboard; identify root causes rapidly; get ahead of potential organisation-wide issues and bottlenecks; and improve MTTR for hardware, network or environmental factors.

Palo Alto Networks ADEM is a real-time monitoring tool that helps IT operations teams ensure user issues are mitigated and the network is not disrupted. ADEM is part of Palo Alto Networks Prisma Access, which protects application traffic with best-in-class capabilities while securing both access and data to dramatically reduce the risk of a data breach.

Whether or not we start talking about UCaaSOps, or indeed DevUCaaSOps (dev-ooh-kah-sops) remains to be seen. Most likely we’ll only see specialist comms and network-related vendors (like these two) get anywhere near any casual use of the term as UCaaS becomes subsumed into a now more connected notion of Ops in general.

If the whole effort makes online video comms even 1% better, then that can’t be bad, but it still won’t replace the less-than-human nature of the staccato conversation flow that all video comms platforms suffer from. 

Let’s just all be on time for the calls please people, yeah?

Oh, you’re still on mute.