Vertical’s Phased Approach to Hybrid Cloudby Sandra Gustavsen in Telecom
Vertical Communications recently unveiled Vertical Cloud Connect (VCC), a suite of cloud-based applications and services hosted and running on Amazon Web Services or AWS (transitioning to Google Cloud). VCC is part of the company’s cloud-first strategy in which all going-forward applications will be designed as cloud services that can be accessed by all Vertical customers, even those with existing premises-based telephony deployments. Vertical uses the same Wave IP code base for all of its Wave-related solutions whether on-site or accessed in the cloud, making it possible for Vertical to offer hybrid arrangements. Customers can select the combination of on-premises equipment and cloud services that best fits their particular business “workflow” needs.
As background, Wave IP is the company’s lead telephony and unified communication system for the small and mid-sized business (SMB) market and larger distributed organizations. Vertical offers the traditional Wave IP unified communications (UC) appliance, as well as a virtualized software-only version now in beta (VMware vSphere technology). Both deployments incorporate Vertical’s ‘Applications Inside’ architecture that embeds all applications within the system software. Most of the functionality is standard with a single user license, including enterprise telephony features, voicemail and mobile twinning, Vertical’s ViewPoint desktop and mobile UC client applications and ViewPoint Softphone. Additional applications such as for contact center and networking can also be incorporated without any additional hardware.
For Vertical’s customers that have a Wave IP system already deployed, the VCC suite of cloud-delivered applications makes it possible for them to retain their existing equipment (investment protection), while trying out new and advanced applications as a convenient monthly subscription service. For example, a business with an existing phone system on-site may find that subscribing to a hosted contact center capability is an appealing alternative to the expense of purchasing and installing contact center software and/or hardware on-site and the cost of the ongoing administration and maintenance that follows. And, a cloud service can be up and running quickly. Further, customers are never left behind as technology moves forward since future innovations delivered as-a-service can always be added over-the-top of an existing system.
Read more below on Vertical’s phased approach to hybrid cloud that benefits its own Wave IP customers initially, but will expand to support businesses with other vendor’s telephony platforms in the not-so-distant future.
Phase I – Simplification
In 2015, Vertical began to introduce some cloud-based applications which are easily accessed as subscription services from Vertical’s secure portal VAppcenter.com running on AWS (transitioning to Google Cloud). The first offering was the subscription service CRMlink to integrate Wave IP with major Web-based CRM platforms such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NetSuite. Wave IP users simply sign up and purchase user licenses as needed; no additional software or hardware is required. Vertical Updates marked the second cloud service available to Wave IP customers. Vertical Updates automates software updates to ensure that Wave IP customers keep up-to-date on the most recent security and feature releases. The Vertical Updates cloud service (available at no charge) is an improvement over the previous process to update Wave IP which involved a lengthier, more delayed roll-out of new features.
The next cloud-based service will be Vertical Meetings (due out in Q4 2016) which will enable unlimited team meetings and webinars with video conferencing, file sharing, remote control and private chats for as many as 500 participants. Participants simply click on a single link to enter the meeting – there are no downloads required and no PINs to remember. Vertical will offer three subscription tiers that are priced per user/account (the user is a moderator; participants join for free).
Phase II – Apps in the Cloud
The availability of the VCC suite on AWS (transitioning to Google Cloud) marks a second phase in Vertical’s cloud-first approach with additional cloud-based applications in beta and close to general availability. New client applications within the “ViewPoint Team Connect” portfolio will include the browser-based ViewPoint Web that will require no VPN or client download, as well as new ViewPoint client applications that are specially adapted for retail, auto and other vertical markets. Vertical is building micro services which are available for internal application development (plans are to expose these to external developers in Phase III). Also in the near-term, Vertical will release a multi-channel contact center solution called Customer Connect that will allow agents and customers to interact using non-voice technologies such as Web, chat, video and SMS.
Currently, Vertical’s cloud-based services within VCC are tied to Vertical’s call control (that is, Vertical’s cloud-based applications are available for customers that have deployed Vertical’s Wave IP R5.1 or higher), but in the future, these services will be available for third party call control platforms, allowing even more businesses to take advantage of Vertical’s application suite.
Phase III – OTT and UCaaS
In 2017, Vertical plans to make the VCC cloud suite available “over-the-top” for third party telephony platforms (non-Vertical call controllers), broadening Vertical’s addressable market, attracting more customers and opening the door to new opportunities. Any business will be able to continue using existing phone system equipment, while trying out new and advanced applications as a convenient monthly subscription service. The VCC cloud suite will also be available to businesses that have deployed Vertical’s Summit IP/TDM hybrid phone system for small and medium businesses.
Also in 2017, look for a new public cloud offering based on Wave IP (Unified Communications as a Service or UCaaS) that will likely target smaller businesses, though the target market is still under review. Stay tuned.