Unified communications, video collaboration and cloud computing were all key topics at the recently concluded three-day Enterprise Connect 2013 show in Orlando, Fla. Attendees heard from such keynote speakers as Kevin Kennedy, president and CEO of Avaya, who talked about how enterprises and end users can take advantage of the increasing connectedness in the business world, while Robert Lloyd, Cisco Systems’ president of development and sales, showed off a retail collaboration platform designed to make the shopping experience easier for consumers and more lucrative for businesses.
Meanwhile, Derek Burney, corporate vice president of Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Office Data, touted the growing array of communication and collaboration offerings from the software giant.
Another topic making the rounds at the show was the new but fast-growing WebRTC, an open industry project designed to bring real-time communications capabilities—such as voice and video—to Web browsers, and to work across browsers and platforms. It’s currently available in some versions of Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers.
There also was no lack of vendors announcing new and enhanced products and services, including Cisco, which unveiled a number of new software solutions designed to drive collaboration adoption in enterprises. Cisco’s efforts come at a time when software is playing a greater role in bringing more collaboration capabilities to more devices. At the same time, Hewlett-Packard officials announced new networking gear aimed at creating a better infrastructure platform for unified communications (UC).
Along with Cisco and HP, there were a large number of vendors that made announcements at Enterprise Connection. Here are a few that made news at the show, which wrapped up March 20.
Polycom, second behind Cisco in the increasingly competitive video collaboration space, announced greater interoperability with Microsoft’s Lync offering. Included in the rollout was a new software extension in Polycom’s RealPresence platform that will bring greater integration between Lync 2013 and Polycom’s video collaboration and content-sharing products.
The extensions will come through software updates to the RealPresence collaboration servers—RMX Series and Collaboration Server 800s—and Virtualization Manager. Lync 2013 interoperability will run through Polycom’s portfolio of offerings, from RealPresence Group Series to desktop video systems to mobile video apps, according to Polycom officials.
“Polycom will deliver the broadest interoperability for Lync 2013 in our industry,” Polycom President and CEO Andy Miller said in a statement. “The combination of Polycom and Microsoft software provides a seamless UC solution for video, voice, conferencing and collaboration, from anywhere, any time, and drives increased productivity across organizations.”
Avaya, Siemens, Polycom Make UC, Video Moves at Enterprise Connect
Avaya officials are looking to make it easier for cloud service providers to offer customers a wider array of UC solutions. Avaya is extending the new offerings via additions to its Collaborative Cloud platform, which the company introduced in May 2012.
Avaya’s Cloud Enablement for Unified Communications and Customer Experience Management is based on the company’s Aura UC platform, and offers flexible pricing that enables service providers to pay only for the resources their customers use. Such pricing enables the service providers to offer solutions that address the needs of highly dynamic environments.
In addition, Avaya is offering its Cloud Enablement for Video, a video as a service solution that leverages the video technologies the company inherited when it bought Radvision last year for $230 million. With the inclusion of Scopia Mobile and Scopia Desktop offerings and the Elite Series multi-point control units (MCUs), service providers will be able to extend video conferencing across a wide range of endpoints, a key capability at a time when workforces are becoming more mobile and businesses are having to deal with the bring your own device (BYOD) trend.
Avaya also rolled out its Communications Outsourcing Solutions Express, a standardized private cloud offering that can be hosted by Avaya, a service provider or channel partner for a customer. In addition, the service provider or channel partner can co-brand the solution. The first edition of the solution is aimed at contact centers with up to 500 concurrent agents, according to Avaya.
“With Avaya Collaborative Cloud, cloud service providers can offer a differentiated UC, contact center or video solution to enterprises,” Joel Hackney, senior vice president and general manager of cloud solutions for Avaya, said in a statement.
Siemens Enterprise Communications
Siemens rolled out integrated UC offerings for mobile device users and midsized companies. The company’s OpenScape Mobile addresses the BYOD and mobile computing trends by bringing voice over IP (VOIP), video and UC capabilities—from presence to directory access to one-number service—into a single solution that can be run on whatever device a person is using. It can be used on a number of smartphones and tablets—it’s available now for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems—and is optimized for the iPad’s large screen.
“Today’s worker is an ‘anywhere worker,’ those who need their technology to keep up with them wherever they go and don’t have the time to manage multiple interfaces,” Chris Hummel, chief commercial officer for Siemens, said in a statement.
In addition, Siemens unveiled OpenScape Enterprise Express, an integrated all-in-one solution for midsized companies, defined as those with 200 to 1,000 users. OpenScape Enterprise Express, which will be available in May, offers a range of VOIP and UC tools.
Vidyo is extending the virtualization capabilities of its video conferencing software. Vidyo officials at the show released the VidyoGateway and VidyoPortal Virtual Editions, a move that they said dovetails with businesses’ desires to increase the reach of virtualization within their data centers.
“Through virtualization, Vidyo enables mass deployment of its video communications and collaboration platform,” Amir Shaked, Vidyo’s senior vice president of product management, said in a statement. “We offer a video solution that supports any deployment model: premise-based, private cloud, public cloud or hybrid.”
The solutions will be available in the second quarter.
Avaya, Siemens, Polycom Make UC, Video Moves at Enterprise Connect
8×8 officials are bringing its new Virtual Office Desktop softphone application to its Virtual Office Business VOIP and Virtual Office Pro UC offerings. The new offering brings the features of Virtual Desktop’s browser solution into an application that is native to Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac software, integrating a business softphone with video calling, Web and video conferencing with visual voicemail, enterprise-grade instant messaging and presence. Also included in the application are fax and social media feeds.
The application offers improved call and message notification, a simpler user interface and compact design, and improved call quality, according to 8×8 officials.
“While customers appreciate the convenience of quickly accessing 8×8’s unified communications app through any Web browser, our most dedicated users wanted the absolute best call quality and user experience which can only be delivered through a native Windows or Mac application,” Phillip Liu, 8×8 senior product manager, said in a statement.
Yorktel officials rolled out their Yorktel VideoCloud, a portfolio of video conferencing services that gives businesses access to the company’s services via the cloud rather than having to buy systems. VideoCloud can integrate with Microsoft’s Lync and Office 365 cloud offering, enabling users of those solutions to connect with video conferencing systems from the likes of Cisco, Polycom, Avaya and Logitech’s LifeSize Communications unit.
Yorktel delivers VideoCloud in three models: Virtual Meeting Room, an on-demand service; Managed Conferencing Service, which offers such features as cloud-based video conferencing bridging, call control and management for multi-point room video conferencing; and B2B Service, an extension of the managed environment that lets businesses schedule and host external inter-company video meetings.
Yorktel’s solutions give businesses an easier and more cost-effective way to adopt video conferencing, according to CEO Ron Gaboury.
“With Yorktel VideoCloud, we are providing the means for organizations of any size to realize the full potential of video conferencing, unified communications and visual collaboration without complexity or cost,” Gaboury said in a statement. “Our proven approach to video managed services liberates customers from having to support multiple communications platforms and security protocols by instead choosing a single partner and solution for a cohesive, customized user experience.”