It’s Busy Out There! UC Summer 2012

by Dave Michels

It’s been tough! Recessions, wars, scandals, and natural disasters collaborating to keep wallets closed. A lot of the UC sector was forced into hibernation mode, but the frost appears to be melting. The summer months are normally a bit quiet, however, there’s been a spate of activity in the industry. Things seem to be looking up.

The forecast is brighter too. Gartner slightly increased its forecasts on IT spending, and it now forecasts worldwide IT spending will reach $3.6 trillion in 2012. That’s up 3 percent from 2011 and 2.5 percent from their projection last quarter. The big story within that revision is the cloud, which Gartner now forecasts at $109 billion, and it could double again by 2016 (excluding consumer spend).

Here’s a short recap of some of the summer news and announcements that caught my attention:

Alcatel-Lucent: Now free from Genesys, the company is looking to re-launch its enterprise UC portfolio. The separation required some relicensing of source code resulting with a new release of the OpenTouch UC suite. UC improvements include enhanced conferencing and collaboration tools, and improved mobility solutions including a new clients for iPad and Android devices. Alcatel-Lucent announced integration with LifeSize endpoints, and a new SMB cloud service that includes video services via LifeSize Cloud Connections. They also announced a layoff.

Avaya: Avaya launched its new direct cloud service known as AvayaLive. The firm also completed its acquisition of Radvision and updated its IP Office. The upgrades include improvements in mobility for BYOD and support of Flare Communicator. The product now scales up to 1000 users.

BroadSoft: Broadsoft announces its quarterly results on August 6, but during a recent update the company revealed that 21 of the top 30 service providers (by revenue) are now customers. The company just announced its new iPad application called Office Launch, and in June announced a very confusing SIP trunking solution that supposedly does something unique involving mobility.

Cisco: Cisco moved its Quad product into its WebEx platform now known as WebEx Social. The iPhone and iPad clients now support transitions between social networking, IM, web conferencing, and voice calls. WebEx Social is available as software or a service from third party providers. Cisco also announced several new features associated with Cisco Unified Communications Release 9.0. It offers improved mobility services from any phone, “E-mail dialing” or dialing by URI, and FMC improvements. Also a new licensing model for Unified Communications Manager was unveiled. The company joined the Open Visual Communications Consortium (OVCC) interoperability effort.

Mitel: Mitel reported strong Q4 and FY12 results during its annual business partner event in San Diego. The company reported increased profit and revenue across its portfolio (and CEO McBee was a foot taller this year).  It introduced a new endpoint that blends audio, video, and collaboration (UC 360) solutions. Mitel’s UC Advanced solution now integrates with Vidyo’s multi-point video solution. Mitel’s hosted service Mitel AnyWare got considerably more attention at this year’s event including expansion into IaaS and contact center improvements. More info.

NEC: NEC announced general availability of its UNIVERGE 3C UC&C software. The software based solution adheres to a web oriented model that leverages existing infrastructure and uses rich Internet Architecture to enable most mobile devices. A previously announced hosted service is expected shortly. NEC announced its 3C solution earlier this year. More Info.

Microsoft: At its recent Q4 briefing, the company announced its first loss associated with a write-off, however, its Business division accounted for Microsoft’s highest profit. Exchange, SharePoint and Lync had double-digit growth rates in Q4, and Lync grew 45 percent. The company also stated that Skype users logged 115 billion minutes of calls last quarter (Holly Tornado Batman!). In an interview at the All Things D conference, Tony Bates revealed Skype is now supporting 250 million monthly connected users, compared to 170 million at the time of acquisition eight months ago.  Microsoft provided a glimpse of its new Office suite including Lync 2013. The biggest news is Lync will soon be able to federate with Skype for IM and voice (250 million connected users can’t be wrong). Additional new features include multi-party HD video, H.264 SVC support, and voice and video support over the web app, and VoIP to mobile clients. Windows 8 is expected in late October, and Windows Phone 8 soon after. Microsoft is also (maybe) expanding into hardware with its Surface tablet. More Info NoJitter and TalkingPointz.

ShoreTel: ShoreTel 13 is out with several new features including feature parity between SIP and TDM trunking (seriously) and improved video with native support for H.264 AVC and certified integration with LifeSize endpoints. ShoreTel (along with Microsoft and Cisco) is now making presence/IM a free feature. ShoreTel joined the UCI Forum which is a multi-vendor consortium focused on UC interoperability. ShoreTel is the designated beneficiary of NA SMB of HP’s decision to kill 3Com again. More Info.

Siemens Enterprise Communications: Celebrating recent growth in SMB, SEN updated its small business OpenScape to support the Zimbra Collaboration Server. The company opened a new office in Russia and dropped out of the UCI Forum. No word yet on the brilliant pocketable video solution promised “within 45 days” four months ago.

Vidyo:  Vidyo made recent headlines  by promising to offer a free video interoperability service unlike any other. The service has no planned release date.

This is just highlights. I don’t recall last summer being anything like this.

Prior Industry Round-up (2011).