Cisco and Verizon say they are moving their joint unified cloud communications service into beta testing, and eventually will add enterprise social media capabilities from Cisco.
Cisco Systems and Verizon in July 2010 kicked off field tests of a hosted unified
communications service built around new offerings from Cisco. That partnership
evolved further last month, when the two businesses unveiled their Unified
Communications and Collaboration as a Service offering during the Enterprise
At a recent briefing for analysts and
journalists, officials with both companies gave an update on the service, which
currently is entering the beta test phase. The enterprise communications
service is offered by Verizon in Cisco's HCS (Hosted Collaboration Suite),
which includes Cisco Unified Communications Systems Release 8.0, HCS Management
System and a virtualization platform, according to Eric Schoch, senior director
of hosted collaboration solutions for Cisco.
The Cisco technology is integrated with
such Verizon assets as audio conferencing; service applications; sales force
capabilities such as ordering, billing and SLAs; and the carrier's data center
"It is truly and completely a Verizon
service, with key elements provided by [Cisco]," Roberta Mackintosh, director
for hosted unified communication and collaboration at Verizon, said during the
briefing, which was conducted via Cisco's TelePresence and WebEx technologies.
The service currently includes such
offerings as hosted email, Jabber instant messaging and presence, conferencing,
unified wired and wireless clients, and IP PBX. A key benefit of the
cloud-based service is that it can be offered on-premises, through the cloud or
in a hybrid fashion, and can be customized depending on a customer's needs,
Cisco's Schoch said. The key is the combination of Cisco's IaaS (infrastructure
as a service), based on the company's UCS (Unified Computing System)-and
integrated all-in-one data center offering-and the services offered through
"It enables this hybrid environment and
also provides the architecture that is more suited and attuned to the
enterprise," Mackintosh said.
The companies are currently in the
first phase of developing Verizon's Unified Communications and Collaboration as
a Service, according to Schoch and Mackintosh. It is a 14- to 18-month phase
that will get the initial set of applications-from voice, video and messaging
to IM and presence-in place.
The response from early customers has
been very good, Mackintosh said. The two companies now are working with several
enterprise customers, hoping to get them into the beta testing phase, she and
Schoch said. Neither would name which companies they're talking to, but
promised more information later.
They also said that for the first
phase, the two companies are focusing on the U.S. market. That will change down
the road, Schoch said.
"This will be a very global offering,"
A key part of the second phase will be
incorporating some of the enterprise-level social networking technologies that
Cisco has been working on into the Verizon service offerings, Mackintosh said.
That includes integrating the Contact Center applications and Quad platform, which Cisco introduced last
summer. Quad offers businesses communications capabilities similar to those
used in such social media environments as Facebook, including profiles,
updates, microblogging, people search and auto-tagging.