Digium Enters the Hosted UC Market with Switchvox Cloud
Digium (www.digium.com) has a new option for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) called Switchvox Cloud, a hosted business telephony service designed as an alternative to purchasing an on-premises telephone system. Businesses simply subscribe for a monthly service fee to access telephone features and unified communications (UC) applications without having to deploy or maintain any system equipment on-site.
Per Digium, the target customer size for Switchvox Cloud is 5-30 seats (the typical buying market for this type of service), though the service can scale to support hundreds of seats. Monthly subscription pricing ranges from $29-$35 per user, depending on the contract length.
Why the Cloud?
Today’s businesses want options when it comes to choosing a telephony solution, and many are carefully looking into whether a hosted/cloud unified communications (UC) and telephony service or the purchase of an on-premises system makes more sense for their particular business requirements. There are pros and cons for either type of solution and plenty of factors to consider – costs, scalability, features and applications, resiliency and recovery, ease of administration, the level of ongoing support, and the selection of end user devices.
Many smaller businesses are seeing the benefits of a fixed-rate (pay-as-you-go), quickly deployable hosted solution that requires no management, and multi-site organizations appreciate the on-demand scalability and how quickly new locations can be up and running.
Digium joins other telephony manufacturers that are now offering their premises-based telephony solutions as a hosted/cloud UC service. Cloud services have become a strategic imperative, and a number of vendors are already reporting that their cloud division revenue is now exceeding the revenue from their premises-based business. This encouraging trend, coupled with analyst forecasts that indicate strong growth in the hosted/cloud UC market, make it certain that vendors will be investing heavily in hosted/cloud offers going forward. So, new and improved cloud services, including hybrid premises-cloud offers, are surely on the horizon. Click here to read more on this emerging trend.
Switchvox Cloud mirrors Digium’s Switchvox SMB, the company’s premises-based IP-PBX, in features and functionality. Switchvox SMB is known for its built-in UC capabilities, including unified messaging, presence, chat, smartphone applications for Android and iPhone, extension mobility features, meet-me conferencing, visual voicemail and more. The company’s Switchboard application is also included as an intuitive, customizable Web-based user interface for managing calls, viewing presence status information, directories and queues, as well as integrating with third party applications such as Salesforce.com and Google Maps.
Flat Monthly Rate
All Switchvox SMB capabilities carry over into the new Switchvox Cloud service and are included with no additional monthly fees – a differentiator from other hosted PBX services on the market that may charge extra monthly fees for UC-type capabilities such as mobile phone integration, presence and chat or meet-me conferencing. The flat monthly rate for Switchvox Cloud ranges from $29-$35 per user and is discounted based on a contract length of one, two or three years. There is also a monthly subscription with no length of time obligation. See below for pricing specifics.
Switchvox SMB is a software switch, so it is inherently cloud-ready and housed as a software application or ‘instance’ on a virtualized server in a data center. Long-time Digium partner VocalCloud has deep Asterisk and Switchvox experience and is providing the network, infrastructure and back office that powers the Switchvox Cloud offering. Currently, Digium has installations in two different data centers in Atlanta, Georgia, with a third data center planned for the west coast. There is no real-time failover capability that automatically switches to a backup system in the other data center; however, "backups" of customer systems (disk files) can be rapidly moved and restored on an alternate server during a server failure (due to the platform design, this scenario is highly unlikely according to Digium). Additionally, because of the Switchvox extension mobility feature that twins an office extension with alternate phones, users can continue to receive office calls via a designated mobile device, for example, remaining “always on” even during a location power outage.
Customers can choose from three Digium telephone models (introduced earlier in 2012) that are tightly integrated with the Switchvox system and give users direct access to Switchvox features from the phone. This includes the ability to view Switchboard information on the phone display such as caller profile information (name, number, e-mail, title, location, etc.), visual voicemail and call queuing information. Models include the entry-level D40, the mid-range D50 and the D70 for executives and administrators. Third party SIP phones will also work, but the Digium phones offer more functionality and are fully supported by Digium.
Because the Switchvox Cloud service and Switchvox SMB premises-based appliance are based on the same Switchvox software, business customers can migrate easily from one to the other. A business that starts with a subscription to Switchvox Cloud, but later decides to deploy the hardware appliance on-site, will be able retain the Digium phones, settings and all familiar applications. Digium provides a full backup and restore of the Switchvox instance and can easily port that to the new environment. Digium refers to this hybrid premises-cloud flexibility as “Switchvox Anywhere,” a concept not yet available from too many competitors.
National Channel Support
Digium points to its expansive, national base of channel partners that includes 1,440 partners in the U.S. where the Switchvox Cloud service is offered (Digium has a total of 2,300 partners worldwide). Unlike other hosted PBX providers that may charge extra for ongoing support, Digium’s flat monthly fee includes end-user training from these partners for the initial configuration, as well as ongoing support for any issues related to the Digium components. The partners will also coordinate assistance for network-related issues (in the Service Provider or customer environment) to help solve problems as needed, charging their respective rates, but providing a convenient, single ‘touch point’ for any customer need.
Availability and Pricing
Digium Switchvox Cloud is available as of March 4, 2013 across the U.S. in 48 states (excludes Alaska and Hawaii). Subscription pricing (5-user minimum) is based on the length of the contract as follows:
- $29/user: 3-year contract
- $31/user: 2-year contract
- $33/user: 1-year contract
- $35/user: monthly subscription (no obligation)
In addition to the full Switchvox feature set, the service comes with unlimited minutes of local/long distance calling, local DID, unlimited extension dialing and number porting; fax services and toll free numbers/services are charged separately.
Enterprise Connect 2013: New Telephony/UC Offers
The Enterprise Connect Conference and Expo is the premiere forum for enterprise communications vendors to highlight their latest and greatest unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) products and services. During the recent event in Orlando, FL, more than 150 of vendors participated and showcased their equipment, software and services that address trends in mobility, video, unified communications, contact center, social networking and the cloud.
Here, we zoom in on several vendors that announced the launch of new premises-based telephony/UC platforms or new hosted/cloud UC services. Read more below on new telephony/UC offers from Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Interactive Intelligence, Microsoft (AT&T and HP partnerships), Mitel (Sprint partnership) and Siemens Enterprise Communications. Visit our Quick Takes section for more on related applications entering the market.
Alcatel-Lucent Unveils OpenTouch Suite for Cloud
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (http://enterprise.alcatel-lucent.com/) has announced a new suite of cloud-based services for business enterprises called the OpenTouch Suite for Cloud. The cloud suite will include three offers to be delivered via service providers, system integrators and channels:
- OpenTouch Enterprise Cloud (for mid-to-large enterprises; available now)
- OpenTouch Office Cloud (for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs); expected in 2Q2013)
- OpenTouch Personal Cloud (to deliver applications as a service for any size enterprise; expected 3Q2013).
First in the suite, and available now, is the OpenTouch Enterprise Cloud solution, a Unified Communication-as-a-Service (UCaaS) offer based on Alcatel-Lucent’s OpenTouch applications and the company’s OmniPCX Enterprise (OXE) IP communications system. So far, three partners have signed up to deliver the service based on a flexible RTU (right-to-use) elastic software license by which actual usage is tracked and charged per user, per month. Current partners include Icon Voice Networks in the U.S., Switch Communications in the UK and UXC Connect in Australia.
Avaya Collaborative Cloud Enables UC, CC and Video Services
Avaya (www.avaya.com) furthered its position in the cloud space with three new offers under the umbrella, the Collaborative Cloud, allowing cloud service providers (CSPs) to offer Avaya Unified Communications (UC), Contact Center (CC) and Video solutions as cloud-based services. Avaya has a pay-as-you-sell utility-based pricing model that lets CPS pay only for what customers actually use. The new cloud services include:
- Avaya Cloud Enablement for Video – Avaya’s Radvision video conferencing portfolio of room, telepresence and personal video solutions for small, medium and large enterprises is now available as cloud-based services. This Video-as-a-Service (VaaS) includes the company’s Elite Series MCUs, Scopia Mobile and Scopia Desktop solutions. Orange Business Services is one provider already offering the service, recently launching the Orange Video Meeting application (powered by Radvision Scopia Mobile technology) for access to video meetings through its cloud-based Open Videopresence service.
- Avaya Cloud Enablement for UC and CC – Avaya Aura-based UC and CC platforms are now available as cloud-based services for small, medium and large enterprises. The UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) offer includes voice communications (SIP) via Aura Session Manager and Aura Communications Manager, UC applications for audio/Web/video conferencing and mobility, Presence, Unified Messaging and Avaya phones. The Contact Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) includes Avaya's Elite multi-channel contact center portfolio with voice (SIP), reporting, self-service, workforce optimization, agent desktop and phones. CSPs will use the Avaya Control Manager SP Edition Web-based interface to centrally manage the service offerings for multiple tenants and end users.
- Avaya Managed Private Cloud for CC – A new private cloud service, called Avaya Communications Outsourcing Solutions (COS) Express, is designed for small and medium enterprises (100-500 agents). The solution can be hosted by Avaya directly or hosted by a CSP that can sell the solution as an Avaya or as a co-branded offer.
Interactive Intelligence Launches CaaS Small Center in U.S.
Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. (www.inin.com) has a new cloud-based communications-as-a-service (CaaS) for small contact centers. CaaS Small Center is designed for small organizations with 10-50 contact center agents and is based on the company’s Customer Interaction Center (CIC) software for contact center and enterprise IP telephony. CaaS Small Center includes a subset of CIC contact center functionality with core features that are meant to keep the service affordable and simple to deploy. The base functionality includes Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Unified Communications (UC), multi-channel routing (voice, e-mail, chat) and voice, email and chat recording. Supervisory and reporting features, real-time speech analytics, post-call surveys and Salesforce integration can be added optionally.
CaaS Small Center is available now in the U.S., with Canada to follow later in 2013. Pricing starts at $99 per agent, per month, and customers can opt for month-to-month or annual contract terms. For businesses that require larger scale and more advanced features, Interactive Intelligence has CaaS solutions for mid-size and larger contact centers: the Standard Edition (25-500 agents), the Preferred Edition (25-5,000 agents) and the Premium Edition (25-5,000+ agents).
Microsoft Partners with AT&T and HP for UC-as-a-Service
AT&T (www.att.com) is enhancing its existing voice communication and collaboration offer by adding the Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) Lync unified communications portfolio of presence, instant messaging, Web and video conferencing capabilities. AT&T customers have three options in taking advantage of the Lync solution; they can run Lync in their own premises-based data center, or have Lync hosted by AT&T or run Lync as part of the Microsoft Office 365 service from AT&T. IT integration, management and ongoing support will be available from AT&T. Microsoft and AT&T will market the service globally.
HP (www.hp.com) has announced several new communications solutions, including HP Enterprise Cloud Services - Unified Communications, a UCaaS (unified communications-as-a-service) offer that combines HP Enterprise Services and Microsoft Lync UC capabilities as a subscription-based service (the infrastructure to support these capabilities is located in an HP data center). The UCaaS offer is available now in select countries, including the United States. To complement the service, HP will be introducing a new line of IP phones (HP 4120 series) this summer. HP is also developing a solution for business continuity at branch offices; the open standards-based multiservice router (MSR), expected this summer, will come with pre-installed Microsoft Lync Survivable Branch software.
Siemens Enterprise Evolves OpenScape Enterprise Express for the Mid-market
Siemens Enterprise Communications (www.siemens-enterprise.com) has rebranded and evolved its all-in-one, pre-packaged VoIP, unified communications (UC) and contact center solution for mid-size enterprise customers. OpenScape Enterprise Express (formerly called OpenScape UC Server Xpress) is designed as a single solution package for easy installation and management. The built-in functionality has been enhanced with more capabilities based on customer and partner feedback, including OpenScape UC Application user licenses, OpenScape Branch user licenses and more contact center agent licenses as part of the Base Package. Expansion License Packages can be purchased for more capacity. OpenScape Enterprise Express will support 200-1,000 users and is due out in mid-May.
Last month, Siemens Enterprise announced OpenScape Business as a next-generation, scalable platform for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) with up to 500 users. Due out in June 2013, OpenScape Business will streamline and evolve the company’s earlier HiPath 3000 and OpenScape Office products.
Sprint Wholesale Cloud Services Adds Mitel Hosted PBX
In a wholesale agreement, Sprint (www.sprint.com) will be including Mitel’s (www.mitel.com) hosted PBX cloud service as part of the Sprint Wholesale Cloud Services. With Sprint Wholesale Cloud Services (first announced in April 2012), SMB-focused resellers can deliver (under their own brand) on-demand access to Sprint’s cloud services which include computing services and storage resources in the areas of business process, archiving, Web commerce and security without having to build their own IT environment or create their own services. Now, the resellers can also offer hosted voice and unified communications (UC) from Mitel. Additionally, Mitel will be marketing Sprint’s cloud services (computing services and storage) directly to its U.S. SMB customers, so the Sprint-Mitel partnership is extending the market reach for each company. Sprint Wholesale Cloud Services are currently available in the U.S., Canada and Mexico; other markets are expected to follow.
Microsoft Lync 2013: What's New, What's Next
Recently, Microsoft held its first Lync Conference in San Diego, CA. There were about 1,000 attendees from 40 countries, including 300 partners and 350 customers, as well as analysts, press and Microsoft employees. The company demonstrated the latest release of its unified communications (UC) software, Lync 2013, and introduced new products and solutions set to roll out over the next 18 months. Lync 2013 is the next version of Lync 2010 which added more enterprise voice capabilities to the UC features (presence, IM and Web conferencing) available with the earlier version, Office Communications Server 2007.
Microsoft’s main message is around its alignment of the Lync and Skype teams under one division (Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011). Lync is Microsoft’s unified communications platform for business users, while Skype enables real-time communications over the Internet for consumers. At the conference, Microsoft announced its intentions to introduce new Lync-Skype integrations that will transcend home and work environments and connect consumers and business users - family, friends, clients and colleagues - in new ways. Microsoft coined a new acronym, B2X, to imply that communications needs to be more than just transactions from business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). With the Lync-Skype integration, businesses will be able to communicate with clients, colleagues, family, friends and the public, hence B2X. The company highlighted its existing large-scale customer base and global reach, citing that over a billion people are currently using the Microsoft Office productivity tools and some 300 million+ are using Skype.
The Lync improvements and Skype integrations are being based around four key principles: (1) a common user experience that is people-centric, simple, consistent and ‘delightful’ (an adjective that several industry leaders have been using to describe the user experience); (2) removing the barriers of communication (simplify communications, enable global reach); (3) multi-platform device support (cannot limit endpoint choices) and (4) reliability and security (secure, reliable access over public networks is critical).
Microsoft discussed and demonstrated several new products and features at the show; some are available now and others due out in the coming months. Below we sort out what’s new for Lync 2013 on the client- and server-side, with a focus on new offers that relate to enterprise voice and video, and list the associated general availability (GA) dates, starting with the most current.
- Lync 2013 Server (GA December 1, 2012)
New Enterprise Voice features include: Group Call Pickup (to answer another line), Location-based Routing (controls routing based on the user’s physical location), Call Forward and Simultaneous Ring options, Response Group Management Roles, Site resiliency by pairing pools across datacenters and SQL database mirroring.
- Windows 8 Lync Client (GA February 22, 2013)
The Lync 2013 desktop client adds support for VoIP and video (can click to join a video or VoIP meeting).
- Lync 2013 for Windows Phone (GA March 11, 2013)
The Lync 2013 mobile client for Windows Phone adds support for VoIP and video (can click to join a video or VoIP meeting).
- Lync 2013 for iOS (GA March 12, 2013)
The Lync 2013 mobile clients for iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices add support for VoIP and video (can click to join a video or VoIP meeting); the iPad tablet will also support viewing a shared desktop or shared application.
- Lync 2013 for Android (GA April 2013)
The Lync 2013 mobile client for Android devices adds support for VoIP and video (can click to join a video or VoIP meeting).
- Lync-Skype connectivity/federation (GA June 2013)
Lync 2013 will support federation (sharing) of presence, instant messaging and voice calls between Skype clients and Lync users (video in 2014). Skype users will require the forthcoming Skype client and must sign-in to Skype with a Microsoft account.
- Lync Meeting Room Systems (GA 2H2013)
Single and dual-screen HD room configurations will be available via partners SMART, Polycom, LifeSize and Crestron. More information has already become available for systems from LifeSize and SMART. LifeSize LRS 1000 for Microsoft Lync is optimized for smaller-size conference rooms of 6-8 participants, while the SMART Room System for Microsoft Lync will come in three versions for small (up to six participants), medium (up to 12 participants) and large (up to 16 participants) conferences; prices start at US$19,999.
The Lync Roadmap in next 18 months:
- Enterprise Voice in Lync Online. Microsoft plans to add enterprise voice capabilities to its hosted service, Office 365/Lync Online, within the next 18 months. Today, customers of Microsoft's hosted offering have to deploy their own Lync server on-site or use a 3rd party solution for voice capabilities.
- Lync Online Quarterly Updates. Microsoft plans to roll out new capabilities on a more regular basis for its Lync Online hosted service.
- Lync Server Update. Microsoft highlights its commitment to the Lync Server product, announcing that the next release is planned for second quarter 2014 (2Q2014).
- Structured Meetings in Lync Online and Lync Server. Microsoft has announced the discontinuation of its Live Meeting commercial subscription-based web conferencing service. The addition of structured meeting capabilities in Lync Online and Lync Server (part of the Lync Server release in 2Q2014) will enable LiveMeeting users to transition smoothly to one of the Lync offers.
8x8 (www.8x8.com) introduces the Virtual Office Desktop softphone application, a native Windows and Mac application that can be downloaded for free by customers that subscribe to the company’s Virtual Office or Virtual Office Pro cloud-based business phone services. The application offers the same functionality as the 8x8 Virtual Office Online Web application, but with better call and message notification, a simplified user interface and improved audio quality. The application combines a softphone capability with one-on-one video calling, web and video conferencing, visual voicemail, enterprise grade instant messaging, presence, fax and social media feeds.
Aastra (www.aastra.com) announces the new BluStar for Conference Room solution to become available in 2Q2013 for medium to large boardrooms or conference rooms. The multi-way video solution acts as a video-enabled SIP extension integrated with an Aastra communications server for 4-way conferencing without the need for a multi-conference unit (MCU). BluStar for Conference Room is designed to be simple to configure and intuitive for the user. Components include the BluStar for Conference Room controller, an external HD remotely controlled camera, a wireless keyboard and a wireless speaker phone. An HD TV is connected via an HDMI interface. Aastra offers a complete bundle (without TV/monitor/projector) or elements of the bundle as "a la carte." In other news, Aastra introduces the OpEasy Productivity Suite for its Clearspan hosted IP-PBX in North America; the applications are designed around the concept of user roles to simplify provisioning, reporting, monitoring.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (http://enterprise.alcatel-lucent.com/) has launched a new suite of cloud-based services for business enterprises called the OpenTouch Suite for Cloud. The cloud suite will include three offers (enterprise, SMB and personal) to be delivered via service providers, system integrators and channels. See the related write-up above for more details (Enterprise Connect 2013: New Telephony/UC Offers). In other news, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is partnering with Altitude Software (www.altitude.com) to add Altitude’s uCI (unified customer interaction) software suite as a mid-market offer within its contact center portfolio. Alcatel-Lucent will re-brand uCI as the Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Customer Service Suite, but will be adding ALUE’s management tools and feature overlays; ALUE plans to embed the suite into its OpenTouch portfolio in the future.
Avaya (www.avaya.com) announces that its Aura Unified Communications (UC) and Contact Center (CC) platforms and Radvision video solutions are now available as cloud-based services via service providers. Also, a new private, managed cloud offer for contact centers up to 500 agents can be hosted and branded by a service provider or hosted directly by Avaya. See the related write-up above for more details (Enterprise Connect 2013: New Telephony/UC Offers).
Avaya (www.avaya.com) introduces four new tools for contact centers to help businesses improve the customer experience through multimedia, speech analysis and tracking of customer interactions. Avaya Aura Call Center Elite Multichannel is an updated version of the company’s contact center software that supports customer interactions via their media of choice, including web chat, social media, SMS, IM, and email. A new Avaya Automated Chat solution lets customers utilize a live, online chat service for faster responses, and there are two new analytics solutions, Avaya Speech Analytics (mines voice-based customer interactions to obtain business intelligence) and Avaya Contact Flow Analytics (flow graphs, dashboards and tabular reports that visually illustrate the effectiveness of routing, agent performance and the customer experience).
AVST (www.avst.com) introduces Atom, a next-generation user productivity application with location-based services, federated presence and multi-lingual speech capabilities. Atom will be available for the company’s CX-E/S 8.5, which will be released in 2Q2013. CX-S is an all-in-one unified messaging suite pre-installed on a Dell server with 50-, 100-, 150- and 200-user configurations. CX-E is a rebranding and repositioning of AVST’s CallXpress unified messaging platform which offers advanced features and scalability designed for medium to large enterprises.
Blue Jeans Network (www.bluejeans.com) enhances its cloud-based video conferencing offer called "Room to Remote” which connects remote workers affordably from anywhere and any device. New features include a mobile client for iOS and a video calling appliance from TelyLabs, as well as bi-directional HD content sharing.
Broadvox (www.broadvox.com) adds a new cloud-based video service for SMBs and enterprises. Customers will use plug-and-play business media phones and video cameras from Polycom, namely the VVX 500 and VVX 600 Business Media Phones and VVX Camera for high definition point-to-point video. A 720p HD video camera plugs into the USB port at the top of the phone, and no extra software is required, making the video solution is simple to deploy and cost-effective. The Polycom VVX phones have a touch-screen interface with a tap-and-swipe capability similar to today’s smartphones and tablets.
Cisco (www.cisco.com) is introducing a new line of intelligent endpoints that will incorporate high-quality video, document sharing, presence, touch-screen and access to cloud-based applications. The new series, DX600, is based on the Android operating system and, per Cisco, marks a new category of advanced collaboration endpoints, replacing the earlier E20 Video IP phone that Cisco acquired from Tandberg in 2010. First in the new series is the DX650 for information workers, shared space staff or executives which supports traditional voice functionality, but also high-definition 1080p video and features commonly associated with today’s smartphones and tablets. Cisco applications such as Cisco Jabber IM, WebEx conferencing and the AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client (VPN) are preloaded on the phone, and users can access the Google Play Store for additional third-party applications. The DX650 is due out in late March 2013.
Cisco (www.cisco.com) updates the Business Edition 6000, the company’s virtualized telephony platform designed for mid-market organizations with up to 1,000 users. Release 9.1 adds the new pre-loaded Cisco Paging Server for integrated, basic paging services included at no additional cost; for more functionality, an Advanced Notification paging application can be purchased directly from Singlewire (OEM). Also new is Cisco Prime Collaboration, an application for automating the system provisioning, administration and management that ships as standard beginning with R9.1; customers with earlier system releases and a Cisco Essential Operate Services contract can download the application from the Cisco Product Upgrade Tool. Cisco also introduces reduced-price 25-user starter license bundles for companies with smaller user requirements.
Digium (www.digium.com) has launched a new cloud UC service called Switchvox Cloud, a hosted version of the company's Switchvox phone system for SMBs. See related write-up above for more details (Digium Enters the Hosted UC Market with Switchvox Cloud).
Fonality (www.fonality.com) is working with OEM partners to expand the hardware options available to its channel partners, certifying its trixbox Pro IP-PBX software on server hardware from RockBochs Inc. (www.rockbochs.com), a provider of Linux and FreeBSD hardware appliances and consulting services. The 2U rack-mount server comes in two versions: a 4 GB unit with an Intel 2.6 GHz dual-core processor and a 6 GB unit with an Intel Xenon 3.0 GHz quad-core processor. The solution also includes telephony gateways from Sangoma (www.sangoma.com). Fonality’s trixbox Pro is a hybrid-hosted IP-PBX software solution for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) that is designed to take the burden of administration away from the customer. The server is located at the customer location (premises hardware), while a Fonality central server stores all phone configurations and call detail reports and monitors the system for errors
Genesys (www.genesyslab.com) has acquired the cloud-based self-service contact center provider Angel.com Inc. (www.angel.com) from parent company MicroStrategy. Angel’s suite of plug-and-play applications, the Customer Experience Platform, are available on-demand via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform to enterprise and mid-market businesses in any industry, including banking, healthcare, retail, pharmaceutical, technology, education and government. The Angel technology utilizes a point-and-click, graphical interface unlike traditional, script-based IVR platforms; among the applications are inbound and outbound IVR, virtual call center, business intelligence analytics, cloud CTI, voice biometrics, payment processing, workforce management, real-time transcription and GPS location services. With the acquisition, Genesys is expected to become a leading player in the cloud contact center-as-a-service market.
Grandstream Networks (www.grandstream.com) has new high density, high performance, analog-VoIP gateways for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) with large voice call volumes. The SIP-based VoIP gateways, with advanced security protection and remote provisioning, help SMBs preserve their investments in analog phones, fax machines and legacy PBX systems, while taking advantage of VoIP communications. The GXW42xx Series of FXS VoIP Gateways supports Gigabit Ethernet for increased speed and comes in four model sizes: GXW4216 (16 port), GXW4224 (24 port) and GXW4232 (32 port) andGXW4248 (48 port) which are commercially available through Grandstream’s worldwide distribution channels in March and April 2013.
Interactive Intelligence (www.inin.com) introduces CaaS Small Center, a new cloud-based contact center offer for small contact centers (10-50 agents). See related write-up above for more details (Enterprise Connect 2013: New Telephony/UC Offers).
Interactive Intelligence (www.inin.com) updates the Bay Bridge Decisions contact center product suite, an agent capacity planning and analysis platform that the company acquired in 2012. A new version 3.9 adds multichannel features, namely e-mail, chat and casework features and multichannel sensitivity analysis graphs that allow managers to evaluate and improve staffing. New customer feedback metrics include net promoter scores that help match staffing needs with interaction quality trends. The full Bay Bridge Decisions 3.9 feature set is now optionally available via a cloud-based model for businesses looking for lower initial costs, faster deployment and reduced IT requirements. V3.9 is available worldwide (English only) and can be purchased through the Interactive Intelligence global sales team.
Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) has begun to roll out Lync 2013 capabilities. See related write-up for more details (Microsoft Lync 2013: What’s New, What’s Next).
Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) is partnering with AT&T (www.att.com) and HP (www.hp.com) for a UC-as-a-Service offer. AT&T adds Microsoft Lync to its Unified Communications (UC) portfolio for business customers, and HP adds interoperability with Microsoft Lync as an enterprise cloud service and for a new survivable branch module. See the related write-up above for more details (Enterprise Connect 2013: New Telephony/UC Offers).
Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) updates its Office 365 cloud service, announcing three new Office 365 offerings, including Office 365 ProPlus ($144 per user annually) which includes the complete set of Office applications - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, InfoPath and Access — delivered as a service to as many as five end-user devices. Office 365 Midsize Business ($180 per user annually) includes Office 365 ProPlus, but is designed for mid-sized businesses with 10-250 employees and adds Exchange Online, Lync Online and SharePoint Online, plus a Web-based administration console and phone support. Office 365 Small Business Premium ($150 per user annually), designed for small businesses with 1-10 employees, includes Office applications, plus business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD videoconferencing. In other news, Microsoft acquired cloud automation startup MetricsHub (www.metricshub.com) and its cloud performance management automation product called Active Cloud Monitoring.
Mitel (www.mitel.com) hosted PBX cloud service is now available as part of Sprint Wholesale Cloud Services. See the related write-up above for more details (Enterprise Connect 2013: New Telephony/UC Offers).
NEC (www.necam.com) UNIVERGE Cloud Services UcaaS is now generally available in North America. The service is based on the company’s UNIVERGE 3C open, call control software (formerly known as Sphericall) that scales to meet the capacity requirements of small to large organizations (to 30,000 endpoints) and supports NEC’s UC for Business contact center solution and NEC’s Business Mobility, as well as video solutions from partner Polycom. Initially, three UNIVERGE Cloud Services packages (Basic, UC Standard and UC Premium) will be offered by NEC’s authorized dealer network and directly from NEC’s enterprise sales group. There are a number of add-ons for any of the packages, and additional options for contact center, Fixed Mobile Convergence, disaster recovery and more.
Polycom (www.polycom.com) extends its VVX Business Media Phone portfolio with two new business phones, the entry-level VVX 300 (US$179) and the mid-range VVX 400 ($US259) designed for office and cubicle work environments. The new VVX models have large screens, an intuitive UI and programmable line keys for easy call/contact management. VVX Expansion Modules and VVX Color Expansion Modules (up to three) can be attached for handling high incoming call volumes. Dual-port Gigabit Ethernet versions are also available. The new phones will ship in select countries in April. In other news, Polycom introduces a new SoundStation Connect HD audio conference unit (US$299) for small group meetings that works with any UC softphone client and plugs directly into any laptop or desktop USB port; general availability is expected in 2Q2013.
ShoreTel (www.shoretel.com) Communicator for IBM Sametime is now generally available and combines ShoreTel IP telephony and UM with Sametime UC capabilities. IBM Sametime and Lotus Notes users can manage their instant messaging, telephony and e-mail functions within a familiar application interface. In other news, ShoreTel continues to address the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend as ShoreTel Mobility 6 now supports a native iPad user interface, allowing users to place and receive calls with their desk phone caller ID, exchange instant messages, listen to voicemail messages, create conference calls and more. ShoreTel Conferencing for iOS is a new application for hosting/attending web conferences via an iOS-based mobile device.
Siemens Enterprise Communications (www.siemens-enterprise.com) announces two new telephony platforms, OpenScape Business for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and OpenScape Enterprise for the mid-size enterprise. See the related write-up above for more details (Enterprise Connect 2013: New Telephony/UC Offers). In other news, Siemens Enterprise is introducing a new line of energy-efficient IP telephones, the OpenScape Desk Phone IP family. The first two models in the portfolio are the OpenScape Desk Phone IP 35G for standard users (due out April 30) and the OpenScape Desk Phone IP 55G for mid-range and power users (due out June 30).
Siemens Enterprise Communications (www.siemens-enterprise.com) introduces a new version of its OpenScape Mobile application that supports a range of UC capabilities (presence, conferencing, directory access, one number service, VoIP, point-to-point video and Siemens’ Call Swipe capability) on smartphones and tablets and now comes optimized for the Apple iPad tablet. OpenScape Mobile users make calls from the mobile client over the 3G network using Siemens’ one-number service instead of their mobile cellular number. This release of OpenScape Mobile is available now for Apple iOS and Android devices. In other news, Siemens Enterprise recently certified its OpenScape Mobile and OpenScape Web Collaboration solutions on select HTC consumer Android smartphones.
Star2Star Communications (www.star2star.com) announces the new StarPhone IP softphone client for the Apple iPhone that combines call management with color-coded presence and voicemail capabilities. Users appear as standard extensions on the Star2Star system and can access Star2Star system features, including call transfer, conferencing and Star2Star’s Find Me / Follow Me call routing to automatically send calls to their softphone after a pre-determined number of rings. Calls are made and received over an IP network, including public WiFi hotspots or a 3G or 4G data connection.
Thinking Phone Networks (www.thinkingphone.com), a UCaaS company, has introduced a new mobile application called ThinkLink that gives the company’s cloud channel partners a heads-up on the latest Thinking Phone Networks news and provides a forum for partners to interact and access information on product updates, events and seminars. ThinkLink can be downloaded to iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad mobile devices. Thinking Phone Networks has added several new channel partners so far in 2013, including Intelisys, Telecom Brokerage Inc. and X4 Solutions.
Zultys (www.zultys.com) has updated its Mobile Communicator for Android mobile devices, adding an integrated SIP softphone capability that leverages a corporate Wi-Fi network. With the Mobile Communicator application downloaded to a smartphone or tablet device, users can access real-time IM and presence, single number reach, corporate directory search, call hold, transfer and call logs, and now, with the integrated SIP softphone, users can also make and receive calls through their Zultys IP-PBX/UC system over a Wi-Fi connection; this means that calls are handled over a low-cost Wi-Fi network instead of the cellular network, reducing communications costs since minutes from the cellular calling plan are not being used. The softphone capability was already added for Apple iOS devices.
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