Genband Expands UC Offering for Enterprises

The company's Generation Enterprise UC framework includes Smart Office 2.0, which features a WebRTC gateway.

Genband is looking to offer a software-based unified communications solution that can be leveraged by enterprises that are dealing with trends toward greater worker mobility and cloud computing.

The company is unveiling its Generation Enterprise unified communications (UC) framework that brings together its range of technologies around voice, video and collaboration capabilities—and its new WebRTC solution—all under a single umbrella.

Generation Enterprise, introduced Jan. 28, is designed to give organizations and service providers the tools they need to offer collaboration capabilities to their employees and customers in an increasingly mobile and cloud-based world, according to Carl Baptiste, senior vice president of enterprise solutions at Genband.

"Our goal is to bring customers forward to a contemporary unified communications experience," Baptiste told eWEEK. "We are looking to provide customers a graceful path forward."

The Generation Enterprise framework gives organizations a way to deliver secure communications via voice, video and other collaboration tools on any devices—from tablets and smartphones to PCs and desk phones—and across any networks, whether they're wired or wireless.

The solution leverages a lot of the technology already in the Genband portfolio, from its Experius platform that allows for common dialing plans in mixed PBX environments and its cloud-based Nuvia offering to its Quantix session border controller (SBC) offerings and Continuum gateways. It also includes the company's new Smart Office 2.0 platform, which features Genband's new Spidr WebRTC gateway. WebRTC protocol is designed to enable browser-to-browser video communications without the need for special plug-ins or clients, such as those required for other modes of video communications, and is a key differentiator for Genband, Baptiste said.

Smart Office 2.0 enables users to move their phone number from one device to another, enabling them to run their communications capabilities—including video conferences—from any device and any location. Both Baptiste and Greg Zweig, director of solutions marketing at Genband, said that when developing the Generation Enterprise framework and Smart Office 2.0 platform, mobility was a key consideration, particularly given the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.

"When you offer a solution like this, BYOD is just inherent," Zweig told eWEEK. "If you have access to the Internet, you have access to unified communications."

To Sheila McGee-Smith, principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, the ability to multi-task while in the UC application and the multimedia redial feature—which lets users replicate earlier multi-party video conferences—were key features in Genband's solution.

"Both of these features reinforce the mobile-first mantra—improving the usability of applications using the specific strengths of today's mobile devices," McGee-Smith said in a post on the No Jitter Website.

Smart Office 2.0 has been in beta with enterprises and a cloud services provider, according to officials.

More than five years ago, UC meant a lot of infrastructure and services, he said. Now it's about software and the Internet, and Genband wants to help its customers make that transition, the officials said. Enterprises can deploy the Generation Enterprise solution within its own data center, or access it via a cloud service provider.

It also was important to ensure that the UC solution works within legacy environments, particularly given Genband's large installed base of Nortel Networks technology users. Genband bought Nortel's voice over IP (VoIP) business in 2010, and inherited many of those customers. The deal has helped Genband grow from a small SBC provider into a larger UC solutions vendor, and has given it a significant customer base. Genband, as owner of Nortel IP, can modernize the legacy voice systems without forcing customers to replace the entire existing infrastructure, officials said.

However, while the legacy Nortel users will be an important customer target, Genband's UC solution will work with products from other vendors as well, Baptiste said.