Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Offers UC for SMBs

The company, which recently was spun out of parent Alcatel-Lucent, is unveiling its enhanced OpenTouch Suite for SMB communications solution.


Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is looking to give smaller companies the same type of communication capabilities as their larger brethren.

The company—which recently was spun out of parent company Alcatel-Lucent—is rolling out its enhanced OpenTouch Suite for SMB, a lineup of communications solutions that is designed to give small and midsize businesses the tools they need to reap the benefits of enhanced communications while making those tools simpler and more affordable.

Smaller companies see the same advantages in unified communications (UC) as larger businesses do, from better business outcomes and employee productivity to greater mobility and cost savings, according to Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise officials. They just don't have the same size budgets or IT staffs that bigger companies have.

"SMBs want the same opportunities as mid- and large-sized companies to run their business efficiently," Eric Penisson, general manager of Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise's communications business, said in a statement. "With new features to collaborate, be more mobile, offer more apps and maximize performance, Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Office RCE [the foundation of the new OpenTouch Suite for SMB] makes SMBs feel like they can generate the same opportunities as a large company."

The enhanced suite offers such capabilities as a simplified Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) solution and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, an improved cloud strategy and expanded mobile device support, according to company officials.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is pitching the offering as a way for both SMBs and their channel partners to create UC solutions that will work for the businesses.

Adoption of UC technologies is expected to grow over the next few years. A recent report from analyst firm Transparency Market Research found that the global unified communications market will increase to $61.9 billion by 2018, while another report from ReportsnReports indicated that the worldwide UC market will grow more than 14 percent annually between now and 2019.

Transparency Market Research analysts pointed to such trends as BYOD, an increasingly mobile workforce, growing popularity of video-based communications and more mobile device penetration into virtualization as helping to drive interest in UC.

A broad array of collaboration technology vendors are looking to tap into the growing interest in UC, including among smaller businesses. Most recently, Cisco Systems this month unveiled its Business Edition 6000S, which officials described as a complete collaboration solution integrated into a 2921 Integrated Services Router (ISR). The offering is aimed at midmarket companies with up to 1,000 employees, with each BE6000S platform offering a range of services—from voice and video to instant messaging and presence—to 25 to 150 users. Such companies are looking for enterprise-level collaboration solutions that are easy to use and affordable, Chris Wiborg, director of collaboration portfolio marketing at Cisco, told eWEEK.

"They don't want an enterprise solution that's been dumbed down," Wiborg told eWEEK.

That is the push Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is making with its OpenTouch Suite for SMB. The solution includes the OmniPCX Office RCE Release 10 communications server, an all-in-one converged solution for voice and data that is easy to deploy and use, officials said. With the new PowerCPU Extended Edition, there is no longer a need for a hard disk, which increases the reliability of the solution. SIP deployment and public trunking become easier and less costly, and customers no longer need a session border controller.

The OpenTouch Conversation mobility offering supports Apple's iOS and Google's Android 4.4 mobile operating systems, and includes new interfaces. In addition, the OpenTouch Conversation and MY IC Web for Office Internet-based application offer customers the ability to track conversation and call histories. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise also is including OpenTouch Office Cloud for cloud-based communications, enabling customers to pay only for what they need regarding IP trunks and licenses, officials said.

Alcatel-Lucent sold the bulk of its enterprise business in October to Chinese investment company China Huaxin for $255 million. China Huaxin holds 85 percent of the business, while Alcatel-Lucent retains the other 15 percent. At the time of the sale, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise CEO Michel Emelianoff said the new company will double the size of the business within five years and transform it from one that sells products to one that deals in "business outcomes." He also wants the company to become the world's largest enterprise communications vendor.