Verizon Business Teams with Microsoft, Cisco on UC Services

Verizon Business is partnering with Microsoft to enable customers using Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2007 R2 UC platform to take advantage of Verizon's IP Trunking technology. Verizon and Cisco also are partnering on an immersive video collaboration service.

Verizon Business is building up its unified communications offerings through partnerships with Microsoft and Cisco Systems.

At the VoiceCon show in Orlando, Fla., March 22, Verizon officials announced that the company's IP trunking technology has been certified to interoperate with Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2007 R2 unified communications platform.

With the new partnership, users of Microsoft's UC platform for such tasks as voice calling, conferencing and instant messaging can bring those functions together with Verizon's VOIP (voice over IP) capabilities. Verizon's IP Trunking offering will help improve management and drive down costs, the company said.

Trunking IP customers can take advantage of Office Communications Server 2007 R2-including real-time UC applications-across Verizon's IP networks, Tom Dalrymple, director of product management for Verizon's Global Voice Solutions unit, said in an interview. In addition, Microsoft can now support the offering.

Dalrymple said Aspect Software, which offers UC and collaboration services and software, has been using this combination of Verizon and Microsoft technology, and the company has saved $350,000 in telephony circuit costs.

"It's very, very effective, and it's a big deal," he said.

Verizon is readying a full line of hosted, dedicated and management offerings based on Microsoft's UC platform and its own infrastructure and management products.

In addition, Verizon is teaming with Cisco to expand its UC business through a service that combines Verizon's Private IP network infrastructure and Cisco's TelePresence immersive video collaboration offerings.

The Verizon Immersive Video Conferencing Service for Cisco TelePresence, which will be available in April, is a managed service that will run on two Verizon Business Exchanges and make use of Verizon's Private IP network infrastructure and Cisco's TelePresence technology.

With the two Business Exchanges, if one is interrupted, the video connection will automatically switch over to the other one, with service being re-established at the click of a button.

Telepresence environments are designed to give meeting participants the feeling that everyone at the meeting is in the same room, even though they may be half a world away. The telepresence rooms are created to look the same, and the large screens and similar furnishings give the impression of a face-to-face meeting.

Businesses are turning to immersive conferencing and video collaboration solutions as a way to reduce travel costs while improving productivity, Roberta Mackintosh, director of product management for Verizon's Global UC&C unit, said in an interview.

"The ROI is so clear," Mackintosh said.

With the combination of Verizon's and Cisco's offerings, customers can preconnect and preconfigure video circuits for their TelePresence meetings and make reservations online or over the phone. In addition, Verizon is offering two Business Video Network Operation Centers for concierge services to set up and manage meetings.

Verizon will be demonstrating the technology at VoiceCon, which runs through March 25.