Come to think of it, "Unified Communications" is a catchphrase that
never really took off with consumers. Maybe more so in the business
realm, but as for regular joes? Video calling, texting and Twitter
pretty much stole the thunder. But these days, the cloud is making a
comeback. Microsoft's pushing it quite hard, and lots of other companies
are starting to rely on the cloud for streaming and content delivery.
Finally, "Unified Communications" can be hip.
Due to that, Verizon
is introducing one of the industry' first
cloud-based unified communications platforms, and while it's designed to
cater to the needs of businesses and government agencies, it's only a
matter of time before this gets reshaped and bleeds into the comsumer
space. New capabilities include seamless call transfers from fixed to
phones and the use of "presence" technology, such as instant messaging,
to initiate audio, Web and intra-company video conference calls, both in
and out of the office. There's also a mobile client, which is designed
to extend business telephony solutions to mobile
handsets. It is available with a docking station that enables workers to
replace their traditional desk phone with a single mobile device that
can access advanced UC&C features, whether workers are in or away
Verizon's planning to launch the new capabilities to US customers this
spring, and we're anxious to see how this will be used in the consumer
space after launch. Not that we really need another cloud option, but we
definitely need more that really nail the execution.
The new capabilities are:
* Unified Communications & Collaboration-as-a-Service, one of the industry's first cloud-based commercial UC&C offerings. It enables businesses and government agencies to facilitate enterprise adoption of UC&C in a fixed or mobile environment, with predictable per-seat pricing. New capabilities include seamless call transfers from fixed to mobile phones and the use of "presence" technology, such as instant messaging, to initiate audio, Web and intra-company video conference calls, both in and out of the office.
* Mobile UC Client, which is designed to extend business telephony solutions to mobile handsets. It is available with a docking station that enables workers to replace their traditional desk phone with a single mobile device that can access advanced UC&C features, whether workers are in or away the office.
"We're putting our leadership in cloud, UC&C and mobility to work for our customers," said Farooq Muzaffar, vice president of enterprise network and communications solutions with Verizon. "It's all part of our 'everything-as-a-service' strategy to help our customers achieve better business outcomes by making information and collaboration available virtually anywhere, anytime."
The new offerings, available to U.S. customers this spring, will be able to work together to deliver a comprehensive cloud-based UC&C solution, or they can be purchased separately to meet specific business requirements. Visitors to the Enterprise Connect Show, taking place this week in Orlando, Fla., will be able to view demonstrations of Verizon's new Unified Communications-as-a-Service offering, featuring the Mobile UC client, which has been named a finalist in the Best of Enterprise Connect competition at the trade show.
Cloud-Based UC&C Takes Flight
Verizon Unified Communications & Collaboration-as-a-Service combines popular applications from the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution within Verizon's high-IQ network and data center infrastructure to quickly and cost-effectively provide UC&C capabilities to multiple employees across an enterprise. Since the dedicated enterprise applications reside in the cloud, organizations can activate employee subscriptions to some or all of the available services, as needed, and pay for the services on a per-user basis.
The state of West Virginia is among the first customers to test-drive an early version of the solution, helping Verizon to determine the specifications for the version that will be commercially available.
According to Eric Schoch, Cisco's group director, Voice Technology Group, "Through the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution, Cisco is enabling Verizon to provide cloud-based solutions that offer unmatched levels of deployment flexibility without compromising capabilities. By working with Verizon, we're able to help them quickly and cost-effectively offer comprehensive unified communications and collaboration solutions to their customers."
Later this year, Verizon will roll out a hybrid offering – also based on a per-seat subscription model -- for customers that still require a fully dedicated environment and want both a cloud- and premises-based solution. A December 2010 Gartner report, "UC 'in the Cloud' and On-Premises: Examples of Hybrid Solutions," notes, "Many enterprise planners think of cloud and on-premises options as mutually exclusive; however, increasingly, enterprises are deploying elements of a UC solution functionality as a blended hybrid of these two options."
UC&C to Go
Verizon's Mobile UC Client solution provides a fixed and mobile, single-device solution, and offers a variety of features including single reach and voice mail numbers. In addition, the other new offering, Unified Communications-as-a-Service, can be accessed on a variety of smart phones and tablet devices from other providers to support a wide range of business requirements.
Verizon also offers a suite of Managed Mobility solutions and professional consulting services to help customers develop and employ the best strategy and path to UC&C and mobility for their specific organization. Specifically, Verizon can assist enterprises in the transformation from their current environment, and support integration with existing capabilities in addition to customization.
Verizon is a global leader in driving better business outcomes for mid-sized and large enterprises and government agencies. Verizon combines integrated communications and IT solutions and professional services expertise with high-IQ global IP and mobility networks to enable businesses to securely access information, share content and communicate. Verizon is rapidly transforming to a cloud-based "everything-as-a-service" delivery model that will put the power of enterprise-grade solutions within the reach of every business. Find out more at www.verizonbusiness.com.