Enterprise Connect Notebook

Brian Riggs
B. Riggs

Summary Bullets:

  • Increasing sales of Interactive Intelligence’s hosted service could indicate rising acceptance of cloud services.
  • HP is positioning itself as a supplier of the underlying infrastructure for UC solutions.

Enterprise Connect 2012 has come and gone.  Here are a few items from my notebook that did not make it into the reports I drafted for our syndicated service: Current Compete.

Interactive Intelligence indicated that sales of its cloud-based contact center service increased 23% in 2011, up from an 11% increase in 2010 and a 5% bump in 2009.  This is interesting to IT buyers, because there are more and more developers of UC and contact center solutions getting into the hosted services business.  Cisco’s doing it with Callway, as is NEC with Univerge Cloud Services; then there’s AvayaLive Connect, Mitel Anywhere, and a slew of others.  To date, systems vendors are by and large reporting only mild interest in their cloud services.  However, Interactive Intelligence, one of the earlier communications software vendors branching into the hosted services market, seems to be seeing more customer adoption than most.  If interest in vendor-offered hosted services spreads, this could lead to interesting new options for SMBs and enterprises as they consider cloud-based UC and contact center services as a viable alternative to on-premises solutions.

As usual, HP had a large booth at Enterprise Connect.  This always intrigues me, because the company does not have a UC solution, per se.  At least it does not have telephony, video conferencing, and collaboration software that I generally associate with UC solutions… despite the fact that HP still has a product page that erroneously includes the now discontinued 3Com VCX line of IP PBXs.  Still, the company has settled on a strategy of providing the underlying server and networking infrastructure for other vendors’ communications and collaboration solutions.  Furthermore, HP entered the IP handset market fairly recently (this part of the UC product page is in fact accurate), with a small line of Lync and generic SIP desk phones.  Finally, with HP partnering with Aastra, Alcatel-Lucent, Polycom, ShoreTel, and a number of other developers, the company’s various infrastructure products are very likely to be in the mix of many IT buyers’ UC solutions.

Alcatel-Lucent had a very comprehensive demo of its OpenTouch UC platform at its booth.  One of the things that jumped out at me: OpenTouch provides voice, conferencing, instant messaging, and video (via a built-in software-based MCU), but it has no native contact center component.  However, this can be added in the form of Genesys software running on a virtual machine on the OpenTouch server.  OpenTouch apparently only supports Red Hat’s KVM virtualization technology for this.  This struck me as strange, since VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft – in that order – are the hypervisor developers most often associated with UC solutions these days.  However, for IT buyers wondering about the contact center capabilities of the new Alcatel-Lucent UC platform, this is where things stand at the moment.

Microsoft remained mum about how Skype fits into its grand UC plans.  Kirk Koenigsbauer noted that Skype eventually will be integrated into Lync.  Or Lync will be integrated into Skype, as I was told in a side conversation with one of Microsoft’s technology partners.  Or both.  The fact of the matter is that Microsoft is still keeping close-lipped about it.  The only news about Lync that I picked up on was the fact that the next version of it will be released alongside Office ‘Wave 15,’ the code name for the next version of Microsoft’s office productivity software that it is rumored will be available late this summer.  However, whereas many Office 15 enhancements are at least partially known, new features for the next version of Lync are not.  (That said, it seems the Lync user interface will be dramatically changed.)  So, IT buyers considering Lync as a supplement to or replacement for existing telephony systems will want to keep an ear out for more info on Lync Wave 15, since this could have a direct bearing on their company’s decision of whether or not to consider adopting it.

What do you think?

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