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Mitel, Black Box Partner on Cloud-Based UC

Black Box will resell, implement and service Mitel’s MiCloud UCaaS offering to businesses in the United States.

Mitel is partnering with Black Box to offer cloud-based unified communications capabilities to businesses in the United States.

Under the agreement announced Aug. 26, Black Box, through its network services, will market, sell and support Mitel's cloud-based MiCloud collaboration suite. The move represents an expanded partnership between the unified communications (UC) vendor and Black Box, which officials said has more than 175,000 clients in about 150 countries.

"We've seen explosive growth in the cloud with Black Box, increasing our joint business by more than 50 percent this past year," Joe Vitalone, executive vice president of sales, Americas, for Mitel, said in a statement. "Customer demand is only increasing, providing a tremendous opportunity to accelerate our cloud momentum. To seize more growth, we have extended our partnership to include MiCloud."

Mitel's MiCloud suite includes a range of solutions, from cloud-based contact centers and unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) capabilities to video conferencing, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), hosted PBX and business-class mobile services. The services are built on a single software platform, giving users the options of leverage private, public or hybrid clouds.

Black Box will offer such services as system design, implementation of the technology and technical support. Company officials said the Mitel MiCloud suite enables them to offer organizations another strong cloud-based UC solution.

UC vendors have been moving their solutions to the cloud for several years. For example, Avaya last year unveiled its Collaborative Cloud platform and a suite of cloud-based solutions, called AvayaLive. ShoreTel also last year bought M5 Networks to give it a cloud-based offering—now called ShoreTel Sky—to complement the on-premises solutions.

Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst of COMMfusion, wrote in a post on the NoJitter blog site this month that UCaaS—as with any cloud-based technology—is getting a lot of attention. While there are benefits to cloud-based UC—it can be easier and faster to deploy, and managing the environment is left to someone else—it may not be the solution for every company. It makes sense for smaller companies, as well as large enterprises that need to manage multiple UC systems from different vendors, Pleasant wrote.

"However, the cost for a hosted solution will generally be higher, even after accounting for offsets of labor, space, etc. Most very large enterprises will want to opt for a hybrid solution of both premise-based and hosted," she wrote. "Mid-to-large-size businesses will have more challenging decisions to make. UCaaS offers more flexibility in terms of the ability to easily add more users when needed; the ability to stay current with technology and upgrades; and ease of turning up new locations and users as needed, including remote workers."

That said, customizing a hosted solution and integrating it with applications and businesses processors are not always easy, and total cost of ownership can be higher than on-premises offerings, Pleasant wrote, noting that companies also must be willing to give up some control over the UCaaS.