Intermedia, a provider of communications services-including hosted Microsoft Exchange-to small to medium-size businesses, announced the launch of hosted Unison, a hosted unified communications service that combines telephony, e-mail, instant messaging and other features into a single service delivered over the Internet. Hosted Unison users interact with Unison Desktop, which was designed to have a familiar look and feel-one comparable to Microsoft Outlook 2007.
Hosted Unison integrates e-mail, telephony, chat, presence, contacts, calendar and more into a single service. The service also supports mobile synchronization of e-mail, contacts and calendar. Intermedia manages hosted Unison service delivery from start to finish, including-through an affiliate telecommunications company-the provision of phone numbers and voice service. Intermedia's 24/7 support, migration tools and a multimillion-dollar infrastructure that includes four data centers back the service. Because telephony is part of the service, users no longer need to use a PBX or VOIP service and users can keep the phone numbers they have today, or get new ones.
"Complex implementations and high costs have shut small and medium-sized businesses out of unified communications," said Serguei Sofinski, CEO of Intermedia. "Yet they need these benefits to level the playing field with big business and preserve funds for growth. Hosted Unison makes unified communications' benefits accessible. It's the next step in our continued mission to provide SMBs with powerful communications services that are incredibly reliable and simple to manage."
Unison Desktop has both Linux and Windows versions. Hosted Unison's development began in 2005 and is based on Unison 3.0, designed specifically to support multitenant hosting and the high reliability that comes with that approach. The company has continued to beta test Unison for close to a year prior to launch. A recent Sage Research report found that unified communications give employees about an extra hour of time per day. Information is shared and decisions are made more efficiently, particularly across offices and with remote workers. Total communication costs are significantly reduced versus the cost of maintaining individual systems.
Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research, said in the past, unified communications required complex integration of hardware, software and services from multiple vendors-putting the approach out of reach for most SMBs.
"These businesses need the same capabilities as larger businesses, but delivered as a service that is simple to set up, easy to administrate and backed by 24/7 support," he said. "Intermedia's offering achieves this, leveling the competitive playing field."