Federating BroadSoft

by Dave Michels

It is a very busy Fall. My Twitter followers know it was ShoreTel, STC, a dealer customer event, and BroadSoft Connections. This week is the Cisco Collaboration Summit, and soon after that is finale in Japan – NEC User Forum and iExpo.

Generally, event planners avoid winter and summer, so things get bunched up in the spring and fall – June was similar.

I did want to get a quick post out on BroadSoft Connections. Connections is very different than the other conferences I attend because the primary audience is service providers – which have a unique perspective on life and UC. BroadSoft is the pioneer in equipping SPs to host UC and has an impressive global footprint. BroadSoft technology powers hosted solutions by SPs of all sizes. BroadSoft is a wholesale brand – end users services are branded by the SP, this represents both a testament and liability of BroadSoft marketing. Further complicating the premises-cloud debate, a premises version of BroadSoft, aimed at large organizations, is available from Aastra (US only). That solution, called Clearspan, is what the USPS intends to deploy nationwide to some 400k endpoints.

Overall, I think the SPs are a bit behind premises offers in their UC mindset, but that’s not true for BroadSoft which is pushing video, mobility, and soon WebRTC. Before the SPs take something to market, BroadSoft has to sell them on implementing the technology into a new service. It’s a process that makes the indirect channel of the premises model actually look efficient.

For years, SMBs were the only ones buying hosted services, but that isn’t the case any more. Here, BroadSoft is actually benefiting from unprecedented levels of competition as Cisco, ShoreTel, and gang validate the hosted model with impressive marketing. Cisco is telling its Business Edition 3000 customers to consider Cisco HCS. Panels at Connections included fairly large organizations including hospitals, universities, and the American Red Cross providing large-seat testimonials. Large enterprises are centralizing resources – even if their teams are distributed. BroadSoft based solutions tends to do well with highly distributed and highly mobile organizations.

This event had many themes:  UC was a big one – presence, mobility, and video. Another big one was the issue of build vs subscribe, but at the SP level. The SPs have been promoting the benefits of hosted models to their subscribers, but now have to grapple with the decision themselves for the source of their own technology. Interestingly, it’s the larger providers are the ones favoring subscription over build.

A theme that surprised me was Federation.

Federation is effectively the new interoperability.  Interop was more about connectivity and federation is more about cross-system applications. Interop was more of a direct vendor issue where federation is more about middle-ware.

At the Connections event, I saw the following solutions for federation.

  • Intelepeer: This firm is not your typical SP as evidenced by a booth at the show targeting SPs. Intelepeer has developed a solution for BroadSoft to BroadSoft federation.
  • Nextplane: This firm keeps popping up in conversations (see related post). BroadSoft was demonstrating this solution directly in their own booth, under a banner for “Openness.”
  • IS || Coord: This Swiss company has a new CEO. Martin Kull (from Avaya). The firm has a nice Lync federation story. Now Kull is developing a channel strategy with BroadSoft, Avaya, and IBM as the primary distributors. Though I will point out that BroadSoft was demonstrating Nextplane.
  • AVST: I keep running into AVST – they hit almost as many events as I do, which provides a hint for their federation play. AVST not only offers BroadSoft a path to the enterprise, but a path to hybrid and premises-based systems as well. AVST speaks the native tongue of just about every solution, and knows how to excite the channel. Especially, large dealers that need new ideas.
  • gUnify: There were two Google integration stories at Connections. gUnify has a middle-ware solution that  brings click to dial (phone goes offhook and dials), Google Contacts, and BroadSoft conferencing into the browser without a plugin. This is a strong solution for Google Apps customers (already predisposed to the cloud) that may want hosted voice. For users that just want some phone control from the browser, BroadSoft released a new Chrome plugin. It also allows click to dial (ringback) and search of the BroadSoft directory from within the browser.

Honorable mention: HyperOffice:  A very different solution, HyperOffice offers “asynchronous collaboration.”  This technology could be used to share a document or calendar among external users. Potentially a nice complement to federation.