Novel Business Models Built Upon an All-Internet Philosophy Threaten to Disrupt Traditional Telecom

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Aryaka launched Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) for IPSec-secured access over existing Internet links onto Aryaka’s POPs to create global data WANs.
  • Kunnect provides an early-mover cloud-based hosted call center solution with a free-of-charge version.

The rapid expansion of companies that have based their products and strategies entirely in the cloud from the outset is disrupting traditional market models. This is hardly new: After VoIP providers first disrupted traditional telephone calling rates, Skype pioneered P2P technology that largely abolished per-minute billing for voice. However the change is ongoing. Two companies are recent examples that break traditions with aggressive sales for all-cloud products and services targeting the enterprise: Aryaka and Kunnect. Usually free trials are a consumer play, and that’s because they are low-cost, best effort, over the unsecure public Internet, and shared infrastructure are not really the routes that the cautious business IT buyer would choose to go down. On the other hand, the cost to deploy a fully managed and dedicated circuit with security appliances and the backing of professional service teams is very high. Continue reading “Novel Business Models Built Upon an All-Internet Philosophy Threaten to Disrupt Traditional Telecom”

Microsoft May Not Have Lync Appliances, But Microsoft Partners Do

Brian Riggs
B. Riggs

Summary Bullets:

  • Microsoft Lync appliances for SMBs are available from small, regional solution developers
  • There may be a certain degree of risk associated with purchasing from smaller, regional solution developers <br><br>

My recent post about the lack of a  Microsoft-delivered Lync appliance generated some messages about Microsoft UC offerings for small businesses. The first was from Maarten Swemmer:

“I completely agree with your analyses. And although Microsoft offers Lync Online for SMBs, it does not offer the telephony functionality one would desire in a Unified Communications solution. You’re still stuck with your old PBX. However, implementing voice isn’t easy and often requires customization on a hardware level. That’s an area Microsoft explicitly does not like to involve itself in. This might be one of the reasons why Microsoft has not implemented Lync as an appliance itself.”

It’s a good point – that Microsoft steers clear of products that require customized hardware, and in the world of business telephony solutions, customized hardware platforms have traditionally been quite common. That being said, in many cases these days, business telephony (aka PBX) software runs on industry-standard servers (just like Microsoft Lync), is SIP-based (just like Microsoft Lync), and includes a messaging, conferencing and collaboration feature set beyond basic telephony (just like Microsoft Lync). In fact, many PBXs ran as software on a plain old server long before Lync was a gleam in Microsoft’s eye. So it’s not really the IT buyer that has this problem with PBXs, since PBXs can offer many of the same features and benefits of Microsoft Lync. It’s the Microsoft reseller that has the problem, because more often than not Lync is the only arrow in his quiver when it comes to telephony.

Another comment that came in was anonymous:

 “There are several attractive options for SMBs at the moment…As a Microsoft Partner and SMB ourselves, we are grateful that Microsoft left the door open for us to fill a niche in the product portfolio.”

This was from someone at CyberUC, a provider of hosted Lync services. Swemmer, incidentally, is associated Active Communications, a Microsoft business partner based in the Netherlands. Both make a very valid point: That while Microsoft may not be delivering a Lync appliance of its own, several of its partners have stepped in to do so. These include boxedUC from Italy-based FrabbicaDigitale, Netherlands-based StartReady, SynSIP in Belgium (a developer of Asterisk-based PBX that added a Lync appliance to its portfolio), and Iluminari Tech in Canada.

What’s striking about this list is, first, a number of the vendors on it are based in Europe. I don’t really associate Lync strongly with Europe, in part because it lacks support for emergency services outside the US. And second, they are all very small companies. I’m surprised larger developers are not getting into the game. HP, given its close partnership with Microsoft, would be a prime candidate for pairing its servers with Microsoft’s UC software for a combined offering. The company offers (or offered, as it’s not on the HP Web site anymore) a “survivable branch appliance” that runs Lync on a gateway deployed at an enterprise’s remote offices. But HP has been actively backing away from UC, discontinuing sales of the 3Com line of VCX products and divesting itself of its Halo telepresence solution. Meanwhile Dell has a Lync-centric UC practice. This pairs Microsoft UC software with Dell storage and server hardware, but stops short of a pre-packed Lync appliance.

For IT buyers in SMBs considering Lync as an alternative to more traditional business communications systems, the appliances noted above are clearly worth considering. But bear in mind that these are from small developers whose staying power, telephony expertise, and ability to support customers not near their center of operation may still need to be proven.

Extending Corporate Video Conferencing to Mobile Devices

Brian Riggs - Research Director, Enterprise Software and Communications

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobility to be the next big product trend for enterprise video conferencing technology
  • There are a number of ways to extend corporate video conferencing solutions to mobile devices

The increasing adoption of video conferencing systems in the enterprise combined with the increasing adoption of video-capable mobile devices is set to both challenge and annoy IT departments. One of the problems is that the software and systems that deliver business-class video conferencing (from Cisco, IBM LifeSize, Magor, Microsoft, Polycom, Vidyo etc.) are completely different from the software that runs on the mobile devices wheedling their way into the enterprise as part of the BYOD phenomenon (from Apple, Google, Fuze, Skype, Tango, etc.). It’s unlikely that the two will learn to coexist peacefully anytime soon. Enterprise IT departments will continue to deploy on-premise or cloud-based video conferencing solutions that meet security and compliance requirements. And end users will separately use separate consumer-friendly video conferencing technology on their mobile devices with or without IT’s formal blessing. Continue reading “Extending Corporate Video Conferencing to Mobile Devices”