Enterprise Connect: Verizon, you see Caas with Cisco

Who’s Caas and what’s she doing with Cisco?! Who knows! But Verizon today unveiled an interesting cloud-based offering with a dash of Cisco goodness: unified communications and collaboration-as-a-service, or UCCaaS.

Big Red is most proud of its high-IQ network infrastructure, the pipes that carry bits and bytes of voice, video, IM, etc. And together with applications from the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution, or “Chocos” (okay, I made that up), Verizon aims to help enterprises in search of implementing UC&C save on cost and deployment time as well as offer flexibility.

Together with mobile UC clients from Cisco (Nokia and iPhone) or Verizon (Android with dock) to complete the UCCaaS offering, Verizon is welcoming enterprises with open arms to adopt this cloud service from end to end.

The benefits of cloud services are well researched and documented, but Verizon is well aware of the business reality: it’s rare that an enterprise elects to go fully cloud. More often than not, it makes no sense for a company to scrap all its on-premise gear in favor of a complete cloud migration. That’s when Verizon’s UCCaaS can offer the greatest potential because of its hybrid capabilities, according to Tom Daniel, Group Manager, UC&C Product Development and Management.

Verizon has even had to rethink its pricing strategy for this cloud service. With an all-cloud package it’s easy to just throw out a big number as the final price. But to allow companies to take advantage of a cost-effective hybrid architecture, Verizon came up with a fee schedule with a la carte features and pricing. Mix and match based on your favorite dishes at the cloud UC buffet!

With all the noise about cloud services, why haven’t we heard more about the hybrid reality? Tom Dalrymple, Jr., Director of Voice Product Management and Development, thinks that virtualization is a key factor. UCCaaS uses virtualization technology from industry leader VMWare, also a close partner with Cisco. With virtualization the UCCaaS implementation can reign in costs with shared hardware and resources, yet offer enough flexibility with customization with dedicated application instances.

To me this announcement is also about two major players — one from a data-centric heritage, the other from voice — combining forces to create a unique product to meet the UC demands of today. Granted, the distinction between voice and data has faded, but the relationship between Cisco and Verizon looks to be stronger than ever.

UCCaaS, can you hear me now?

Here is the press release:

NEW YORK – With today’s workforce becoming more global and mobile, the need for employees to remain connected to corporate resources and to each other has never been greater. To help meet this need, Verizon is introducing innovative capabilities that enhance and advance unified communications and collaboration solutions for businesses and government agencies.

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.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, serving 94.1 million customers nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America’s most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 194,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

VERIZON’S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts, high-quality video and images, and other information are available at Verizon’s News Center on the World Wide Web at www.verizon.com/news. To receive news releases by e-mail, visit the News Center and register for customized automatic delivery of Verizon news releases.

Media Contacts:
Maria Montenegro
Debbie Lewis
+1 610-257-7974



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