- Enterprise FMC solutions may no longer be aggressively marketed, but they are still available.
- Device security, management, and application enablement have taken over as top enterprise mobility concerns.
A few years back, there was such a rage for enterprise FMC solutions that maintained voice call continuity while transitioning a call in progress on a dual-mode mobile phone between a cellular and a WiFi connection. It seemed every time I turned around there was some new VC-backed enterprise FMC start-up – Agito, Divitas, Comdasys, Varaha, OptiMobile, Telepo, QuesCom, NewStep – focused on this.
The benefits of ‘dual-mode telephony’ solutions were (and to a certain extent remain) clear: minimize the number of minutes required for end users’ mobile plans, provide a better-than-cellular call quality when devices are connected to the QoS-supporting corporate network, extend a more complete set of PBX features when the end user’s device is connected via WiFi. In addition, since it could be deployed as an on-premises solution, rather than a carrier-offered service, enterprises could integrate more closely with their IP PBXs on the one hand and wireless LAN infrastructures on the other.
Still, the heyday of dual-mode telephony solutions has ended. At least, independent developers with marketing budgets to popularize the solutions are fewer and farther between. Agito, which I’d always assumed was grooming itself for acquisition by Cisco, was instead acquired by ShoreTel. Aastra acquired Comdasys just last month. Divitas has apparently been merged into Clearfly Communications, a service provider that once resold the Divitas mobility solution but whose Web site makes no obvious mention of a Divitas-based service currently on offer. OptiMobile and Telepo, which once sold solutions to enterprises, are now seeking opportunities in the service provider market.
Yet, dual-mode telephony solutions are by no means unavailable. Enterprise IT buyers seeking on-premises solutions that maintain voice call continuity between cellular and WiFi connections may not see them mentioned anymore in the trade press. However, ShoreTel Mobility Roam Anywhere, as the Agito solution is now called, provides the same dual-mode functionality and supports a wide range of PBXs, not just those of ShoreTel. Comdasys is also likely to support multivendor integration, since Aastra runs it as a separate operating unit. Varaha still exists as an independent company; its name cropped up just a couple weeks ago as the enterprise FMC solution for NEC’s Univerge 3C solution. In addition, Siemens Enterprise and Cisco have dual-mode telephony solutions of their own, though you have to dig pretty deep in the Jabber product literature to tease out details about it. In fact, this is likely to be the direction dual-mode telephony takes going forward: software that maintains call continuity across different network types will be more of a product feature rather than a separate standalone solution. This could result in less costly, easier-to-integrate enterprise FMC features, but probably at the cost of a less robust feature set than standalone solutions can provide.
Still, the conversation around enterprise mobility these days is less about network-related issues such as handing off calls from WiFi to cellular, and more about securing data on mobile devices, managing mobile devices, ensuring business applications are accessible on mobile devices, and either embracing or repelling end users’ BYOD expectations. Handing off calls seamlessly and automatically between cellular and WiFi networks has always been a neat trick, but it has always been a small part of a much bigger enterprise mobility picture.