Numonix Introduces Multi-media Monitoring and Recording with RECITE 3.0
Numonix, a call recording and quality management software developer based in Boca Raton, Florida, releases a new version of its flagship RECITE recording solution. The latest RECITE version 3.0 introduces multi-media recording, specifically the monitoring and recording of chat, video and screen share within a Microsoft Skype for Business (Lync) environment. V3.0 also increases scale to 500,000 concurrent recording sessions (up from 1,000 sessions), enhances the call reporting capabilities and supports storage and archiving to the cloud, among other new features (more on what’s new below).
The benefits of voice call recording are well-known and highly important to many businesses; however, Numonix recognizes that it is no longer enough to record and store voice conversations only, particularly when it comes to contact centers and 911 emergency services. The rapid advance of mobile, social, video and other collaborative forms of communication demands a “next-generation” of recording technology. By recording voice calls only, a business will miss capturing and archiving important interactions via video or chat for example that may contain key business insights or required content in the case of legal compliance matters.
It’s not hard to find recent surveys and studies that confirm the trend toward non-voice interactions. Dimension Data’s 2015 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report finds that digital forms of communication such as email, web chat, social media and self-service already account for more than 35% of all interactions and will likely surpass voice-based interactions within the next two years. No Jitter analysis discusses a growing breed of real-time team collaboration applications that combine and organize multiple technologies such as messaging, audio, video, multi-party meetings and content sharing into a single user interface. These new collaborative apps are gaining adoption in the enterprise/corporate space as a more effective way to communicate and manage projects, with the majority easily accessed as subscription-based cloud services.
With non-voice forms of communication becoming more mainstream, Numonix is timely and on-target with the new version of RECITE that captures and records content from multiple media types, including voice, but also video, chat and even screen-based communications such as application sharing and polling that often occurs during a conference. RECITE can be flexibly deployed on-site as software running on a Windows-based or virtualized server or accessed as a hosted/cloud service for a monthly subscription fee.
A Microsoft Partner
Numonix (a Microsoft partner) points to the growing adoption of Microsoft’s Skype for Business unified communications platform (formerly Lync), particularly by larger organizations. Statistics indicate that Skype for Business (Lync) is deployed in more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies, and Q2 2015 data from Infonetics shows Microsoft leading all vendors in the UC platform space. Skype for Business natively supports non-voice forms of communication, including presence, IM, Web and video conferencing, and as such has been a driving factor for Numonix’s development of a recording capability that captures voice, video and chat, but also application sharing, polling data and interactions during a Web-based meeting.
Numonix has steadily built-out the feature set for RECITE, adding support for centralized storage and more Lync user devices (including mobile devices) in 2013 and, in early 2015, announcing an integrated solution with the Sonus portfolio of Session Border Controllers (SBCs) that ensures regulatory compliance, validates transactions and protects sensitive data, while monitoring and recording customer interactions. The Sonus products, along with Plantronics (certified headsets and speakerphones), Nectar (monitoring and diagnostics) and Numonix RECITE interaction recording are part of a Better Together Alliance that ensures interoperability of these vendor’s products within Microsoft Skype for Business and Microsoft Lync Enterprise Voice deployments.
RECITE 3.0 in October 2015 is the latest advancement that introduces the monitoring and recording of multiple forms of communications within a Microsoft Skype for Business (Lync) environment along with significant voice recording enhancements. Multimedia monitoring and recording will be available for additional vendor’s UC solutions in 2016, and Numonix is currently working on future developments around the 911 emergency services space and social media interactions.
Many of the new RECITE 3.0 features introduce improvements related to voice recording such as custom reports, dashboards with real-time metrics and cloud storage. RECITE call recording software directly integrates with dozens of other leading telecommunications telephony systems, including Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, Mitel, ShoreTel and Toshiba, to name only a few. The new multi-media monitoring and recording capabilities are specific to Microsoft Skype for Business (Lync). The distinctions are noted below.
New for Voice Recording
- Scale to 500,000 simultaneous call recording sessions (up from 1,000 sessions)
- Enhanced Call Reports (now 40+ reports, plus custom reports)
- Customizable dashboard tool with widgets and real-time metrics (for insights and performance)
- Custom user role builder (previously, roles were predefined)
- Enhanced audit trail and change tracking (for all user activity and all system changes)
- Active Directory synchronization for real time user provisioning
- Centralized management for multi-site and global organizations (single Web interface)
- Storage and archiving to a cloud service (currently Amazon or Microsoft Azure)
New for Microsoft Skype for Business Interaction Recording
- Recording of chat, video and screen share
- Live Monitoring of voice, screen, chat and video
- Playback of all modalities
RECITE 3.0 is available as of October 6, 2015 throughout the Americas and the APAC and EMEA regions from authorized Numonix dealers. Scalability from five to 500,000 concurrent recording sessions makes RECITE suitable for any size business, including very large organizations in any vertical market. Multi-media monitoring and recording is expected to be available for additional vendor’s UC solutions in 2016.
Revisiting the Hybrid Cloud
About a year ago, we wrote about the hybrid cloud opportunity for traditional business telephony vendors that have added hosted unified communications (UC) services to their portfolios of IP-PBX, contact center, messaging and other on-site telephony-related solutions. These vendors see the value in offering flexible deployment options such that their customers can select on-premises equipment or hosted/cloud services according to their particular business communications needs and requirements.
Moreover, these vendors are in the perfect position to offer a hybrid solution that offers business customers (1) the flexibility in subscribing to hosted/cloud services for some applications and using on-site solutions for others and/or (2) the ability to network the two solution types (cloud and on-premises) with extension dialing and feature parity across all locations regardless of the deployment. Most of the vendors on our radar are offering some cloud-based applications, but not all have yet addressed a full hybrid networking scenario.
Recent market studies validate the shift toward hosted/cloud UC in general, but also highlight a growing preference for “hybrid cloud-premises” implementations. A 2015 IDG Enterprise survey finds the number of small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and enterprises planning to implement a hybrid UC&C model is rising, citing that 54% of enterprises and 42% of SMBs in their survey are preparing to do so in the next two years (compared to 30% and 27% using a hybrid approach today).
A hybrid cloud-premises telephony and UC solution can ease a variety of business challenges. For example, a business with an existing phone system on-site may find that subscribing to a call recording service or a hosted contact center capability is far more convenient than actually installing additional hardware and/or software for these applications. Or, perhaps a company wants to continue running a critical business application locally while taking advantage of a pay-as-you-go hosted service for telephony call control. Or, consider a larger, distributed enterprise that has significant investments in telephony equipment. Here, a staggered transition with deployments of hosted/cloud services for remote sites while continuing to use existing premises-based telephony systems at main locations will likely make the most sense.
New Hybrid Cloud Solutions in 2015
In our research last fall, we highlighted new hybrid cloud-premises solutions from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, NEC, Tadiran Telecom, ShoreTel, Toshiba and Zultys (you can read about these here). Since then, many more hybrid cloud solutions have entered the market from the vendors we track, including from 3CX, Avaya, Cisco, Digium, Microsoft, Mitel, NEC, ShoreTel, Tadiran Telecom, Toshiba, Unify and Vertical. Below are some of the 2015 entries.
3CX announced the general availability of a new software version for its software-based 3CX Phone System for Windows. Version 14 introduces a wholesale hosted/cloud offer for 3CX channel partners that can now provide both a hosted and an on-premises phone system based on the same platform, including hybrid arrangements. In addition, 3CX released a WebRTC-based version of its WebMeeting service, offering unlimited Web and video conferencing for one yearly price depending on number of participants (10-100); the solution can be deployed as an on-site server or accessed as a hosted service. See the write-up “3CX Announces Wholesale Hosted PBX Service with V14” for details.
Avaya is addressing the hybrid cloud opportunity with new partnerships and services aimed at businesses transitioning toward a public cloud delivery model. Among these partnerships is Customer Engagement OnAvaya™ Powered by Google Cloud Platform. With this collaboration, Avaya’s IP Office Contact Center technology is now offered as-a-service for a monthly subscription fee through Google Cloud. See the write-up Avaya and Google Partner to Offer Cloud Contact Center for SMBs for more detail.
Additionally, Avaya can leverage its expertise in traditional, on-premises telephony solutions to offer hybrid cloud-premises configurations. A hosted version of Avaya’s IP Office, now available from distribution partners in several countries, will be able to support hybrid configurations in which earlier on-premises IP Office control units function as gateways to tie-in existing analog and digital equipment already owned (this capability is on the IP Office Cloud roadmap planned for the first half of 2016). For the enterprise, Avaya is partnering with cloud infrastructure provider Spoken Communications to offer a hybrid cloud Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution for the enterprise and with VMware to offer Avaya customer and team engagement applications as-a-service hosted on the VMware vCloud Air platform. The AvayaLive Video service is available to any size business and offers a conference room in the cloud for up to 25 participants per room.
Cisco announced a new name and the official availability of its cloud-based team collaboration application, Cisco Spark. Cisco had been seeking feedback on this evolving application since its introduction as Project Squared in November 2014, making it available as a free app for Apple mobile devices or through a Web browser. Now generally available, Cisco has incorporated new features, added additional device support (most features are available for iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows, Mac and Web) and is offering Spark as a free version with limited functionality (e.g. one-to-one video calling and 3-party meetings) or as a monthly subscription with additional functionality such as room moderation, directory sync and broader meeting capabilities.
Additionally, Cisco partners are reporting that the Cisco Hosted Collaboration System (HCS) can flexibly provide hybrid cloud solutions, combining the benefits of HCS licensing and per-user subscriptions with on-premises solutions. Typical HCS deployment options may include primary applications hosted in the cloud and on-premises applications deployed for failover, or Cisco Unity voicemail servers deployed on-premises and Unified Communications Manager (UCM) call control hosted in the cloud, or all applications deployed on-premises with HCS management and provisioning applications in the cloud, among other hybrid scenarios. Cisco will be announcing additional hybrid cloud solutions at next month’s Collaboration Summit. Stay tuned.
Digium introduced the Switchvox Rescue disaster recovery cloud service for customers that have deployed the on-premises Switchvox business phone system (requires the latest Release 5.11 software or higher). The service protects against unexpected downtime by providing a temporary backup system hosted at a Digium Cloud Services datacenter. A recent copy of the Switchvox configuration is maintained in the cloud, and upon notification by the customer, this system can takeover in the event of an on-site outage. Switchvox Rescue is available to order for $90 per month (an introductory price of $45 per month is available for a limited time).
Microsoft is currently previewing three Skype for Business services for inclusion in its Office 365 hosted offer: Cloud PBX (Microsoft’s Skype for Business/Lync enterprise voice features), PSTN Conferencing (a traditional dial-in capability) and Skype Meeting Broadcast (for large virtual meetings with up to 10,000 participants). A new E5 enterprise plan will be publically announced in December and will include support for these Skype for Business services, along with new analytics and security features. In terms of hybrid cloud implementations, Microsoft customers that upgrade to the latest premises-based Skype for Business Server will be able to take advantage of the subscription-based Meeting Broadcast cloud service - a hybrid server and cloud approach. Per Microsoft, hybrid models will also be possible such that customers with a Skype for Business Server deployed on-premises can use that software to connect the customer's PSTN environment with Cloud PBX; additionally, the company adds that customers can operate with some users hosted in Office 365 and other users hosted on the Server.
Mitel continues to evolve its MiCloud hosted business services portfolio in 2015, enhancing features and functionality and expanding market opportunities (see Mitel MiCloud Hosted Services Offer Multiple Market Opportunities). The company’s MiVoice Business software (formerly Mitel Communications Director or MCD) is the base software for Mitel’s on-premises IP-PBX and its MiCloud hosted offer, making it possible to configure a hybrid scenario with portions of the solution implemented on-premises, and other portions deployed in the cloud. Mitel cites support for hybrid cloud deployments since 2010 when it first introduced the virtualized version of the software. Mitel's MiContact Center Live Service also creates a hybrid opportunity as the solution goes “over the top" of any existing telephone platform, allowing businesses to subscribe to a cloud-based contact center service regardless of their current on-premises IP telephony platform.
NEC’s UNIVERGE Cloud Service Contact Center is new in 2015 and delivers a suite of cloud services that includes inbound multi-channel communications, outbound dialing, intelligent routing and queuing, self-service via Interactive Voice Response (IVR), multimedia recording, quality monitoring, real-time and historical reporting and more. The subscription-based contact center service can be deployed as a public cloud offering (hosted in an NEC data center) or as a privately managed service (hosted in an organization’s own data center). It is closely integrated with NEC’s unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) cloud-based solution, but can also function with an on-site system such as NEC’s UNIVERGE 3C or with the NEC SV9000 communications server or even an IP-PBX system from another vendor via SIP trunking. The cloud solution is available as of April 9, 2015 in the United States (other regions will follow). See the write-up NEC Introduces Contact Center in the Cloud for more detail. The new hosted offer joins the previously-introduced cloud-based meet-me audio conferencing service.
ShoreTel has begun the phased rollout of its newly developed platform, ShoreTel Connect, which will function as a common platform for cloud, on-premises and hybrid deployments. Partners are now officially quoting the following: a new on-site IP-PBX (Connect ONSITE), a new cloud-based UC service (Connect CLOUD) and a new multi-channel contact center solution (Connect Contact Center), as well as cloud-based applications for customers with premises-based system deployments (Connect HYBRID Apps). A hybrid networking capability that enables the networking of cloud and premises deployments (Connect HYBRID Sites) is expected later this year. See the write-up ShoreTel Addresses the Hybrid Cloud with New Connect Platform for more detail.
Tadiran Telecom recently announced that its Aeonix software-based Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) platform is available as a multi-instance cloud-based solution running on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Tadiran Telecom customers can now opt to access their telephony and UC as a convenient subscription-based service, eliminating the expense and hassle of purchasing, deploying and maintaining a telephone system on-site. Multi-site organizations can take advantage of a hybrid cloud-premises arrangement by deploying Aeonix servers at some sites and utilizing hosted/cloud services at other locations. See the write-up Tadiran Telecom’s Aeonix UC&C Hosted on Amazon Marketplace for more detail.
Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Telecommunication Systems Division announced common management across its cloud and premises-based solutions with the latest version of its Enterprise Manager browser-based administration tool. With Release 1.6.2, customers that deploy Toshiba’s VIPedge cloud unified communications service or the IPedge IP business communication system, or a hybrid network that includes both solution types, can use the same management software (previously, these solutions used different versions of Toshiba’s Enterprise Manager for administration). Since Toshiba’s cloud and on-premises solutions are based on the same software stream, customers use the same phones and endpoints, the same functionality and now the same administration software whether the organization utilizes a cloud, on-premises or hybrid deployment.
Unify (formerly Siemens Enterprise and soon-to-be acquired by European IT service company Atos) added new capabilities to its Circuit collaboration platform, a cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform designed to improve teamwork by enabling natural, contextual collaboration that combines voice, video, screen sharing, messaging and file sharing into a single user interface. In 2015, Unify enhanced Circuit to include Android device support (already available as a native iOS app and via a Chrome Web browser), live meeting recording, connectors for Microsoft Exchange contacts and Box file storage and a Universal Telephony Connector that enables integration with any Unify or third party SIP voice platform. Per demand, Unify also unveiled new lower cost pricing packages, Free, Team and Professional, in addition to the existing Enterprise package.
Vertical Communications released two cloud services for its premises-based Wave IP telephony system for the small and mid-sized business (SMB) market and larger distributed organizations. Vertical Updates is a cloud-based service that automates software updates, ensuring that Wave IP customers keep up-to-date on the most recent security and feature releases. The Vertical Updates cloud service (available at no charge) is a significant improvement over the previous process to update Wave IP which involved a lengthier, more delayed roll-out of new features. Vertical also offers a subscription service called CRMlink that integrates Wave IP with Web-based CRM platforms such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NetSuite. Wave IP users simply sign up and purchase user licenses as needed; no additional software or hardware is required. See the write-up Vertical Releases Wave IP 5.0, Adds New Cloud Service for Software Updates for more detail.
Tadiran Telecom's Aeonix UC&C Hosted on Amazon Marketplace
Tadiran Telecom is broadening the deployment options for its Aeonix software-based Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) platform, announcing that Aeonix is available as a multi-instance cloud-based solution running on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Tadiran Telecom customers can now opt to access their telephony and UC as a convenient subscription-based service, eliminating the expense and hassle of purchasing, deploying and maintaining a telephone system on-site. Multi-site organizations can also take advantage of a hybrid cloud-premises arrangement by deploying Aeonix servers at some sites and utilizing hosted/cloud services at other locations.
Aeonix (a variation of the word aeonic which means “everlasting” and reflects the system’s open, flexible architecture) is Linux-based software that runs on industry standard servers and virtualized platforms. It is particularly well suited to large, distributed organizations since the solution is highly scalable and highly resilient due to a clustered, fault-tolerant, active-active architecture. However, Aeonix can also serve smaller businesses since the capacity range actually starts at 25 users, then scales to support up to 25,000 users with as many as eight servers or instances connected as one unified cluster.
UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions like the new Aeonix UC&C cloud service are appealing to businesses of all sizes that are looking to bypass the typical business phone system purchase. There are obvious budgetary advantages to selecting a subscription-based service (a recurring, operational expenditure or OPEX model) such as reduced capital expenses, fewer IT personnel and predictable per-user monthly fees, to name a few. And, there are strategic advantages in terms of scale, consistency across a network of locations and the ease of adding innovations and technologies that emerge in the future.
Bring Your Own Cloud SP
Tadiran’s partnership with Amazon is not completely new. In 2014, Tadiran Telecom began offering a hybrid cloud approach by which customers with a distributed network could utilize Aeonix hosted on AWS as a disaster recovery option for locally-deployed Aeonix servers. This latest announcement extends the relationship to make Aeonix available as a full UCaaS solution available on the Amazon Marketplace.
Tadiran refers to the Amazon partnership as a 'Bring Your Own Cloud' approach since partners will eventually be able to select the public Cloud Service Provider (CSP) they prefer to host the Aeonix solution, unlike competing cloud solutions that are restricted to the provider’s own cloud infrastructure. Since Aeonix software can be virtualized to run in any VMware, Hyper-V or KVM environment, the software can be easily ported to AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud or another public cloud platform that supports virtualization technology.
AWS is the first CSP to host Aeonix, but other CSPs are set to follow. In fact, Tadiran is now testing Microsoft Azure within its own corporate network, an Aeonix cluster that includes on-site servers in the U.S. and Israel and Aeonix UCaaS running on AWS at its locations in Ireland, China and India. Aeonix licensing is propagated and shared across all five servers/services, and all five nodes provide back-up in real-time for each of the other nodes - an active-active hot standby configuration and a good example of a working hybrid network arrangement.
Recent market studies validate the shift toward subscription-based services for telephony and UC, but also for hybrid cloud-premises models like that possible with the Aeonix UC&C software. A 2015 IDG Enterprise survey finds the number of small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and enterprises planning to implement a hybrid UC&C model is rising, citing 54% of enterprises and 42% of SMBs in their survey are preparing to do so in the next two years (compared to 30% and 27% using a hybrid approach today).
The new Aeonix cloud-based UC&C option opens up multiple opportunities: (1) for Tadiran Telecom in terms of new markets and new sales channels, (2) for Tadiran’s channel partners that can now offer flexible cloud, premises and hybrid arrangements and (3) for end customers that can choose from several deployment options depending on their particular business needs. The new cloud model also enables a migration path forward for Tadiran customers with legacy systems.
- Aeonix UCaaS enables Tadiran Telecom to enter the hosted/cloud-based telephony and UC market which is rapidly gaining in popularity as businesses of all sizes realize the benefits of a hosted solution. Tadiran channel partners can now compete for business against other hosted UCaaS providers, with the added advantage of using the Amazon infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and thereby avoiding the cost and resources involved in maintaining their own data center operations. Partners and end customers will also benefit from ‘economies of scale’ (i.e. lower pricing) due to the hundreds of thousands of customers aggregated on the Amazon cloud.
- Additionally, while the Aeonix solution is particularly suitable for larger, distributed organizations due to its scalability and high level of fault tolerance and failover (typical sweet spot for optimal cost-effectiveness for on-premises installations is above 50 users), the UCaaS offer on AWS makes Aeonix more cost-effective for the very small business since they can eliminate the upfront capital expense of purchasing telephone system equipment and pay only a monthly subscription fee to access their telephony and UC functionality via the cloud. Furthermore, partners can offer these smaller businesses a full application suite, including Aeonix UC client applications, Web and video conferencing and contact center with analytics and reporting among other more advanced applications.
New Sales Channel
- Tadiran is opening up a new channel opportunity as the company looks to bring Amazon System Integrators into the Tadiran partner program (Tadiran Telecom typically sells exclusively through partners, except for government business and some direct sales in Israel). AWS System Integrators that complete the Aeonix certifications will be able to offer UC&C along with other Amazon services they are already selling. Many of the Amazon System Integrators work with large enterprise organizations which will help Tadiran Telecom in its quest to move further upmarket with the Aeonix platform.
- Aeonix UCaaS on AWS is a new deployment option. Tadiran channel partners can now offer the telephony and UC deployment (hosted/cloud or on-site) that best meets their customer’s particular business challenges. This includes hybrid arrangements for multi-site customers, with on-site systems deployed at some locations and utilization of hosted/cloud services at others. Hybrid cloud-premises solutions are rapidly entering the market as the traditional telecom vendors like Tadiran Telecom recognize the value in offering customers (1) the flexibility in subscribing to hosted/cloud services for some applications and using on-site solutions for others (i.e. Aeonix hosted on AWS as a disaster recovery option for locally-deployed Aeonix servers) and/or (2) the ability to network the two solution types (cloud and on-premises) for feature parity across all locations regardless of the deployment.
- Tadiran Telecom has a large, existing customer base with earlier digital PBXs that are looking to upgrade to the newer technology that Aeonix UC&C can provide. Tadiran has been offering various promotional incentives to encourage migration. For example, legacy Tadiran Coral and IPx customers may qualify for free licensing for the first 70% of the user licensing, while existing customers with Tadiran’s Coral Sea softswitch can replace the software and all software licenses at no cost with Tadiran’s one-year Annual Support Agreement.
- Additionally, Coral and IPx systems can be converted to gateways to interface the legacy phone system with Aeonix in order to connect and reuse existing investments in analog and digital phones and trunking. Longtime Tadiran Telecom partner, Adept Communications and Data Company (ACDC), is a case in point. ACDC transitioned from a legacy Tadiran IPx system to the Aeonix UC&C cloud solution for its own in-house communications, moving from a combination of IP phones and digital phones to a complete IP solution via the Aeonix cloud. Since the transition was easily accomplished from within the Amazon services, they had a working system ready within hours. ACDC is also reusing its IPx as a gateway for some of the analog phones still required at their office.
The latest release of Aeonix (V2.4) added a new suite of hospitality features and integration with Microsoft Skype for Business (Lync). Aeonix V3.0, due out in January 2016, will continue to evolve hospitality features, as well as introduce a new management platform based on HTML5 to replace the current proprietary solution. In the future, Tadiran will also announce Microsoft Azure and other CSPs as certified hosting platforms for Aeonix UCaaS.
Zultys MX R11 Adds Features for Premises and Cloud
Unified Communications (UC) solution provider Zultys announces the general availability of a new software version for its MX telephony and UC solution. Release 11.0 introduces a number of enhancements related to customer service, including a new Web chat capability and improved Salesforce integration, plus a new disaster recovery capability and diagnostics tool.
Unlike some competitors that stagger new releases, often making these available for their premises-based equipment before rolling the new features out to their cloud service, the new R11 software is available immediately for Zultys’ MX-SE and MX250 IP-PBX hardware appliances, as well as for the MXvirtual virtualized software which is deployable on-premises or available from Zultys partners as a hosted/cloud subscription-based service.
During past two years, Zultys has steadily evolved the MX solution per discussions with its channel partners and evaluation of market trends. In early 2014 with R9.0, Zultys introduced a virtualized software-only version of the company’s MX IP phone system that larger corporations can run on their existing VMware infrastructure (MXvirtual). Additionally, authorized Zultys channel partners can act as managed service providers, hosting the virtualized software in their own facility and offering the solution as a subscription-based service to end customers (a wholesale managed services offer). Later in 2014 with R10.0, the company introduced Zultys Cloud Services Hosted Phone System and Unified Communications as a new Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) “retail” offer whereby the channel partner acts as the reseller, making the sale and providing support to the customer, while Zultys is responsible for the hosting and billing and provides SIP trunking and carrier services.
Having multiple pricing and deployment models differentiates Zultys from many of its competitors in the business communications space. First, channel partners can choose the sales model that best suits their go-to-market strategy. Zultys offers its premises-based MX IP phone system or the MXvirtual VMware-ready virtual appliance as a standard, one-time purchase (the traditional capital expenditure or CAPEX model). Alternatively, partners can offer a managed (hosted) subscription-based service (a recurring, operational expenditure or OPEX model) which also has flexible options, either a wholesale managed services model or the retail UCaaS model (more on the flexible Zultys deployment options here).
What’s New with R11.0?
Zultys MX is known for “all-in-one” functionality that embeds capabilities like voicemail and call center (basic ACD) as standard features, with other collaborative functions built-in and easily license-activated as needed, including unified messaging, meet-me conferencing and the company’s MXIE UC client application for desktops and mobile devices. Additional applications can be added optionally. With the cloud offer, customers can choose from three subscription feature bundles for standard, premium or contact center functionality.
Zultys offers an identical user and administrator experience whether the solution is deployed at a customer premises, as a managed/hosted service or in a hybrid environment with both types of deployments. Below are some of the new R11 features:
- A new Web chat capability (called Multi-Media Queue) allows a customer to start an instant messaging session with a contact center agent by simply clicking on a website button (a Web Chat link is integrated into a company’s website). When agents use the Zultys MXIE unified communication client, they will be able to process both voice calls and Web chat requests using this single interface. Supervisors will be able to monitor chat conversations, coach agents and interact directly with the customer for both Web chat and voice calls. Multi-Media Queue is included with the Advanced ACD software license or the Contact Center Agent hosted/cloud user package.
- The Zultys Salesforce Communicator interface is redesigned for improved functionality and now works with any Web browser and operating system (previously, only Internet Explorer, Chrome and the Windows OS were supported). Contact center agents can view screen pops for incoming calls with details of previous customer interactions, as well as make calls directly from the Salesforce application. Agents can also view a record of all recent calls without the need to exit the Salesforce window.
- Hunt group calls can now be delivered to an agent with an external telephone number such as a non-IP home phone or a mobile phone; this expands the call coverage options to improve customer service.
- A new option helps to balance call distribution among agents who are assigned to multiple groups. After ending a call, agents can now reset their idle time to “0” for all groups which prevents them from receiving another call immediately and ensures a more even distribution of calls among all agents. Previously, idle time was only reset for the specific call group in use, thus making it possible for a call from another call group to be presented to this agent immediately.
- Voice mailbox messages are now replicated across all nodes in a multi-site network. This is particularly important during outages since it allows users to continue to access their mailbox content even when the “home” server or instance is not available. This is a standard feature in the Zultys hosted/cloud offering and is part of MXnetwork redundancy and network licenses for the Zultys on-premises solution.
- The MX Administrator interface includes a new built-in diagnostic tool with access to several Real-time Transport (RTP) Quality of Service (QoS) statistics, including system-level Packet Loss, Jitter and Round Trip Timeout. This information will aid administrators with troubleshooting and identification of voice quality issues.
In recent news:
8x8 selects CallidusCloud to automate the paying of commissions to 8x8’s direct sales force and channel sales partners. CallidusCloud solutions will replace earlier manual commission management processes and also provide 8x8 with additional cloud-based solutions for territory and quota management, sales coaching, gamification and other sales and marketing activities. In other news, 8x8 has been awarded its 112th patent; this one relates to its global reach technology for the contact center to reduce audio latency when connecting calls across long distances and geographically-dispersed agents.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise adds a second application to its OpenTouch Personal Cloud portfolio of business applications delivered as-a-service (an overlay approach for any vendor’s on-premises or cloud-based solution). The new TeamShare file sharing tool facilitates teamwork activities such as sharing large files securely, accessing files remotely, calendar sharing, task management and private chat. TeamShare is now generally available globally and joins the OpenTouch Conference audio conferencing and screen sharing application (a third cloud app called OpenTouch Video Store was discontinued earlier this year).
Avaya introduces the new Midmarket Select Program for its Connect Channel Partners to help them more aggressively target mid-sized businesses which Avaya defines as those with 250-2,000 seats. Channel partners that meet specific criteria will have access to new Avaya Select Engagement Packages that bundle the IP Office telephony and UC platform, contact center, video and mobility solutions, along with Avaya’s Professional, Support and Networking Managed Services. The tailored packages are designed to provide a complete or “full stack” solution that simplifies provisioning, speeds up deployment time and lowers operational costs. Per Avaya, more than 12 channel partners in the U.S., Canada and Europe have signed up so far; additional partners (the target is 40) and additional regions will follow.
Blue Jeans Network introduces a new version of its videoconferencing service. Blue Jeans 3.0 includes updated user interfaces for desktop (Windows and Mac) and mobile (iOS and Android) devices, adds WebRTC support for Google Chrome and new third party integrations (added Slack and Canvas to already supported integrations with Salesforce, Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar and several others). R3.0 also introduces new reporting and analytics capabilities, including an ROI calculator to measure the travel savings and carbon reduction when conducting meetings with the Blue Jeans videoconferencing service. Blue Jeans 3.0 features are included standard with the service; a free 14-day trial is available.
BroadSoft announces a new BroadCloud software release that adds more enterprise-level unified communications services that will appeal to larger businesses. Specifically, the new release adds the full capabilities of BroadSoft’s UC-One portfolio of Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) and SIP Trunking services to the BroadCloud managed service, as well as new user device options from AudioCodes, Polycom and Yealink, Service Provider management and reseller provisioning enhancements and the UC-One Hospitality solution. BroadSoft also introduced its vision for next generation unified communications (dubbed Project Tempo) which includes a centralized user experience called UC-One Hub with contextual intelligence, enterprise messaging, unified directory services and tools for enabling third-party integration and customization. A beta version of the UC-One Hub cloud service is expected in the first quarter of 2016 and will initially run on BroadSoft's UC-One Communicator using Google Chrome.
Cisco is accelerating its market presence in key markets with a number of new partnerships and acquisitions, including a new business and technology partnership with Ericsson to create new products and services for carriers, as well as enterprise mobile networking systems and platforms and services related to the Internet of Things (IoT). Cisco is also teaming up with robotics firm Fanuc America to build and test a robot monitoring system that aims to reduce production downtime in manufacturing facilities by performing preventative maintenance on operational equipment. In other news, Cisco is acquiring two vendors in the analytics space: network security company Lancope (security network behavior analytics, threat visibility and security intelligence) and data analytics company ParStream (database analytics for IoT environments). And, Cisco will acquire over-the-top video services provider 1 Mainstream to complement Cisco’s new Infinite cloud video entertainment solutions for service providers.
Fonality is expanding the access to business applications through its Heads Up Display (HUD) unified communications (UC) client that allows users to manage all communications from a single interface, including phone calls, voicemail, unified messaging, directories, conferencing, call recording, presence status, group chat, file sharing and video. The company is adding additional integrations with third party cloud-based software such as for CRM, file storage, voicemail transcription and click-to-dial (many integrations were already available, including Blitz leads management, Box file storage, Snap voice recording and Salesforce CRM, among others). In other news, Fonality has added new training courses for users, administrators and partners to get the most out of their Fonality phone system; the Fonality Academy now offers eight educational courses and three curriculum paths.
Grandstream Networks expands its GXP16xx series of desktop IP phones for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and home office use, adding a fifth model, the GXP1630, competitively priced at $90. Despite the low price points, all of the Linux-based GXP16xx series phones have advanced features such as XML programmable softkeys, Electronic Hook Switch (EHS) support for Plantronics headsets, multiple language support, a large phonebook and are preloaded with weather and currency exchange real-time Web applications. Grandstream also introduces a new IP video surveillance recorder for small business and residential users; the GVR3552 Network Video Recorder (US$149) provides video recording, indexing, searching and video storage management for up to 16 IP video cameras.
Interactive Intelligence releases its customer engagement cloud service PureCloud Engage in Europe (was already offered in NA, Australia and NZ since June). PureCloud Engage, part of the company’s PureCloud suite of unified communications and contact center applications running on Amazon Web Services (AWS), enables multichannel routing, speech-enabled interactive voice response, outbound campaign management, multichannel recording and quality management, reporting, customer relationship management integration and graphical scripting. The service initially targets smaller contact centers with up to 100 agents, with support for 1,000 agents expected next year and 10,000 agents in the future. Some advanced capabilities are on the roadmap such as allowing customers to browse agent personality profiles, and behavioral analytics that will match customers and agents according to personality profiles.
Jive Communications continues the expansion of its enterprise-grade hosted/cloud VoIP and unified communications services into the Canadian market by acquiring Ontario-based cloud business phone service provider Easy Office Phone. Jive will also be onboarding Easy Office Phone’s network of over 200 partners. Easy Office Phone will be part of the newly formed Jive Canada team along with recently-acquired FonAngle, a Business VoIP provider based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
MegaPath announces a new Managed WiFi subscription service that provides a complete, end-to-end WiFi hosted service that eliminates the cost and complexity of installing and maintaining traditional on-site wireless controllers. Subscribers select from three enterprise-grade Wireless LAN access points for differing business environments; one of the access point models supports integrated Bluetooth for location-based services such as mobile payment and indoor navigation. A cloud-based management dashboard provides summary reports about the users, applications, and devices accessing the Wireless LAN to gain insights into visitor behavior, to optimize staffing or to send targeted offers to a mobile phone, among other intelligence.
Microsoft has plans to start selling a new premium Office 365 Enterprise Suite called E5 on December 1, 2015. The E5 subscription will replace the current E4 plan and add three new Skype for Business services to its Office 365 hosted offer: Cloud PBX (Microsoft’s Skype for Business/Lync enterprise voice features), PSTN Conferencing (a traditional dial-in capability) and Skype Meeting Broadcast (for large virtual meetings with up to 10,000 participants). Office 365 E5 will also include new analytics features and advanced security features. Technical previews of the new Skype for Business features have been underway in multiple countries. In other news, Microsoft's Skype for Business app for iOS is now generally available with an improved meeting experience, full-screen video and new security options for IT administrators; an Android version is still in preview and due before the end of the calendar year, while a Mac OS version of the app is expected next year.
Mitel highlights its vision for the “cloud-powered mobile enterprise” and its uniqueness in delivering products and services that combine its expertise in enterprise, cloud, service provider and 4G LTE (Mitel acquired 4G LTE solution provider Mavenir Systems earlier this year). To this end, Mitel recently announced the availability of Mitel Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) capabilities for mobile carriers in Asia, Europe and North America and the expansion of the MiCloud platform into additional countries, including France and Germany. New mobile-related features are available for the hospitality environment such as linking a guest’s smartphone to the hotel’s network for access to voice mail, speed dial functions and location-based capabilities. Mitel also introduces the new Mitel Next “Accelerator" initiative that aims to speed up the creation, development and testing of new solutions for the mobile enterprise.
NEC advances and rebrands its UNIVERGE Cloud Services as UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services. Like the earlier UCaaS offer, UNIVERGE BLUE has three user packages, Basic, Standard and Premium, for varying user types which can be mixed and matched and customized with a selection of add-on capabilities, including some new cloud-based applications for desktop collaboration, mass notification and emergency conferencing. UNIVERGE BLUE is currently offered in U.S., but expansion to Canada is expected soon and European coverage is set to follow in 2016. NEC highlights its uniqueness and differentiation from other UCaaS providers in that it owns the technology from end-to-end. NEC manufactures the UCaaS components, develops the call control software and applications (NEC UNIVERGE 3C software is common to both premises and cloud deployments), manages and provisions the Tier 3 geo-redundant data centers, manages a 24x7 Network Operations Center and monitors the MPLS network to identify and avoid QoS issues when transporting voice, data and video. “Over-the-top” deployments are also possible per specific NEC guidelines. Look for more detail on UNIVERGE BLUE in an upcoming issue.
Numonix releases a new version of its flagship RECITE recording solution. V3.0 introduces multi-media recording, specifically the monitoring and recording of chat, video and screen share within a Microsoft Skype for Business (Lync) environment. V3.0 also increases scale to 500,000 concurrent recording sessions (up from 1,000 sessions), enhances the call reporting capabilities and supports storage and archiving to the cloud, among other new features. See the write-up Numonix Introduces Multi-media Monitoring and Recording with RECITE 3.0 for complete details.
Polycom unveils five new collaborative solutions set to become generally available in the coming months. First is Polycom RealPresence Trio, a new tabletop device for small and huddle rooms that enables voice, content-sharing and video conferencing; participants can pair mobile devices or laptops to share content. RealPresence Trio is available in November in Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and the United States, with other countries to follow. Additional new solutions are due out soon in specified countries, including RealPresence Medialign (all-in-one video collaboration system for medium to large rooms; December 2015), Polycom Concierge (December 2015), RealPresence Debut (enterprise video conferencing for small rooms; January 2016) and RealPresence Centro (innovative visual collaboration hub with 360° camera technology for small groups and classrooms; February 2016).
RingCentral announces the integration and general availability of the Glip team messaging and collaboration application rebranded as Glip by RingCentral (Glip was acquired last June). The service which allows users to share files, assign tasks, track work and maintain a team calendar is currently included at no additional cost to all RingCentral Office customers. Integrations include click-to-call, corporate directory and launching RingCentral audio, video and web conferences from a team chat. The Glip app will continue to be available as a stand-alone product for non-RingCentral users. In other news, RingCentral expanded its Connect developer platform with additional SDK languages and new APIs. Also, the RingCentral Contact Centre powered by inContact has launched in the UK as of November 1, 2015.
ShoreTel is extending its ShoreTel Connect portfolio into new geographies, announcing the acquisition of M5 Networks Australia, a cloud provider with technology developed in conjunction with M5 Networks in the US (acquired in 2012 by ShoreTel and later renamed as ShoreTel Sky). The new acquisition adds headcount, offices and data centers and helps to accelerate the company’s cloud rollout in that country. The M5 Networks Australia hosted voice technology will be upgraded to the new ShoreTel Connect Cloud platform. In other news, ShoreTel has enhanced its Champion Partner Program, adopting a points-based reward system, merging its cloud and onsite partner tracks into one program and consolidating 11 tiers into four; the updated program went into effect November 1, 2015.
snom introduces the new D765 SIP-based VoIP phone designed for executives and senior staff. The new phone, a premium model in the D700 series, features a high-resolution color display, an XML Browser, built-in Bluetooth compatibility for wireless headsets, Gigabit Ethernet, USB ports, 12 SIP user accounts and custom authentication methods for environments with critical communications needs. Use of the open standards-based SIP protocol makes snom devices interoperable with a wide range of SIP-compatible telephony systems and hosted/cloud services.
Tadiran Telecom is broadening the deployment options for its Aeonix software-based Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) platform, announcing that Aeonix is available as a multi-instance cloud-based solution running on Amazon Web Services (AWS). See the write-up Tadiran Telecom’s Aeonix UC&C Hosted on Amazon Marketplace for more detail.
ThinkingPhones acquires cloud video conferencing company Fuze that offers voice and video conferencing and content sharing services for devices, desktops and meeting rooms. The press release names Groupon, Starbucks and Macys.com among over 100,000 companies using Fuze today. Full integration of the Fuze and ThinkingPhones services is expected in 2016. Fuze is the third acquisition by ThinkingPhones since 2014 (the company acquired Contactive in February 2015 and Whaleback in August 2014).
Unify (formerly Siemens Enterprise) is to be acquired by European IT services corporation Atos to complement Atos’ existing business technology services and solutions. Details of the merger are not yet disclosed and the portfolio integration is unclear; however, speculation suggests that Atos is looking to enhance their services suite with communications solutions such as Unify’s Circuit team collaboration application-as-a-service (Unify just unveiled new lower cost pricing packages for Circuit, Free, Team and Professional, in addition to the existing Enterprise package). In a statement, Unify highlighted the merger’s value to customers and partners from increased scale in key markets, expanded breadth of services and access to Atos’ global client base and partner ecosystem. The closing is expected in the first calendar quarter of 2016.
Xorcom announces the new "Spark" IP-PBX for small businesses (30 users or less). The pre-configured, compact, Asterisk-based IP-PBX supports popular telephony features without any license fees and comes with embedded session border controller, firewall and intrusion detection and prevention software. Spark supports both traditional (TDM) and IP configurations, including up to 15 T1/E1/PRI channels, 16 analog ports, eight BRI channels and up to 30 simultaneous SIP calls. General availability is set for November 2015.
Yorktel introduces a new enterprise video conferencing cloud service called Univago that can be utilized over the public Internet via a private connection to Yorktel’s global data center or deployed within an enterprise network. Three solutions are available, including Univago Meeting Rooms (URooms) with video and screen sharing for up to 30 participants per meeting, Univago Virtual Receptionist for controlling entry into the video network and the new Univago Enterprise Gateway with native support for various technologies to enable interoperability with Microsoft Lync, SIP and H.323 platforms. Univago also supports Active Directory and Microsoft Exchange integration, as well as an option for customized branding for the Web portal and URoom video screens.
Zultys announces the general availability of a new software version for its MX telephony and UC solution. Release 11.0 introduces a number of enhancements related to customer service, including a new Web chat capability and improved Salesforce integration, plus a new disaster recovery capability and diagnostics tool. See the write-up Zultys MX R11 Adds Features for Premises and Cloud for more detail.
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