Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a generic term to describe the integration of real-time, enterprise communication services that encompasses various products to optimise business processes [1]. This market is expected to grow from $17.35bn in 2016 to $28.69bn by 2021 [2] and this growth will be boosted by rapid adoption solutions in cloud computing. This evolution of Unified Communication, shifting to the Cloud, provides several benefits [3] that allow companies to enhance their efficiency and agility. 

Currently one of the main challenges for this service is how to adapt the deployments to meet fluctuating demand. The rationale for research on this subject area is to figure out how providers and customers can best consume the appropriate resources, as and when needed.

Usually the user pays fees for the service used (pay-per-use), therefore if the service is able to adapt itself to the real necessities of the company that hires the service, the customer only pays for resources used according to demand. Moreover, if the service cannot be adapted to the traffic requirements, an increase in the number of calls (or video sessions, number of users at chat rooms, etc.) may cause a reduction of the quality of the service (QoS) leading to interruption of cloud-based business processes for clients - this is one undesirable outcome we hope that ENTICE’s findings will help us to avoid.

One possibility is to reserve resources in advance, but in this case the extra resources have to be paid in anticipation of demand, even when this demand is low for a considerable length of time. This is the classic problem when dimensioning circuit-based voice networks, for example. Another solution is to try to forecast the traffic patterns for the company which can be used by the service to save resources. These patterns are difficult to foresee, even if an algorithm can be used to extract them, learning by experience (artificial intelligence algorithms) - these can be fooled by changes in the company premises, user habits and business processes which may cause continuous changing models making it quite difficult adapt the service this way.

Improving performance in communication services usually involves the deployment of new instances. Deploying a new virtual machine with new resources means time during which new calls will be rejected or the application QoS will be reduced. In this context, ENTICE (#EntICE) can help applications that need vertical scaling (new virtual machines) improving the speed of deployment of new instances.

ENTICE speeds up deployment of new instances in two ways;

(1) VMIs can be distributed following an algorithm that improves the deployment speed and

(2) reducing VMI size enables service providers to decrease the time spent downloading the images and creating the VM.

Therefore ENTICE makes it possible to adapt the Unified Communication services on demand and to pay only for resources needed at all times.

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[1] http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/essentialguide/Guide-to-Unified-Communications-as-a-Service-Making-sense-of-it-all

[2] http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/unified-communication-as-a-service-ucaas-market-893.html.

[3] https://www.nec-enterprise.com/Newsroom/7-Reasons-to-Consider-Cloud-based-Unified-Communications-Services-825