Mitel, Unify, and Amazon


What a week. It was a week of travel. I spent the week in Japan attending the NEC iExpo. More on that coming soon.

The flight from Denver to Tokyo is over 12 hours – quite possibly the longest I’ve gone offline for the past few years. The flights, time zone shift, and incredibly packed itinerary left me fairly unconnected in one of the most connected countries in the world. I didn’t read any of my normal RSS news feeds last week, but still three big  stories got my attention. As the saying goes “I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.”Looks-like-i-picked-the-wrong-week-to-stop-sniffing-Glue-copy[1]

Three big stories:

Mitel Buys Aastra: This is fairly significant. I will keep it short here as I put most of my thoughts on No Jitter. We’ve seen our share of recent acquisitions in this industry, but this is a big one. It involves lots of continents and even more products. It is going to be an interesting move, and I’m anxious to learn more details on how Mitel intends to digest this meal. MX-ONE is a keeper, certified globally and strong in Europe, but it does have significant overlap with MiVoice. The A400 and A700 butt-up against the Mitel 5000.

Clearspan is the wild card. As Mitel CEO Rich McBee said himself, it is one of the best kept secrets in telecom. Clearspan knows scalability unlike any product Mitel has ever seen.  It is giving firms like Cisco a run for its money (Post office chose Clearspan over Cisco). But, Clearspan is very expensive and involves outsourced technology (Mitel prefers to build its own technology). Despite its underlying global chops, Clearspan is currently constrained to the US market. This merger will be filed under action, suspense, and drama for now.

Hummel to Leave Unify: Mitel/Aastra was on Monday. On Friday, Unify let it be known that its highly visible CCO Chris Hummel is suffering from a case of Pre-Mature Resignation. At least that’s my diagnosis. He was hired to help shape the company’s image. For various reasons this was put off nearly four years until last month. Finally un-cuffed, he opted to update his CV. Unify is a great contemporary name. The products are not so contemporary.

Project Ansible is still vaporware. A good chunk of what’s left of the development team is working on it. The others are updating and maintaining. For example Unify announced version 7  for its OpenScape 4000 which now supports a single number capability. It is almost 2014 and Unify just announced a single number capability for a system that is supporting over 25,000 customers in 80 countries. The next big thing happening in UC will be SDN, but Unify sold off its SDN division (Enterasys). The current thing happening is cloud, and Unify aborted its public cloud soon after its launch. I think Unify has a bumpy road ahead, and it is disconcerting that its most visible C-Level just jumped.

Amazon Announces WorkSpaces: The sleeper announcement last week was WorkSpaces. Things change quickly, and then slowly. WorkSpaces are a new virtual desktop solution from Amazon. Is it any good? Cost Effective? Enterprise ready? Probably not (this week). What it is though is Amazon’s intent to jump into the enterprise desktop game. When Amazon jumped into the enterprise server game the reaction was a yawn: “It’s not practical.” “It’s for techies and developers.” “What does Amazon know about servers and Infrastructure?” A lot! This is exactly what VDI needed, and it’s going to be disruptive – albeit not for a few years. Google chased Microsoft into the clouds with Office 365 – now both have a thin client solution. Chromebooks and iPads are selling like crazy and Microsoft has its focus on the Surface tablet.

Amazon is going to offer the most robust desktop at the lowest price, optimized for a mobile world. Unlike Google and Microsoft, Amazon isn’t going to get caught-up in mobile OS battles, and will offer Office, Quickbooks, Oracle and/or Salesforce to any device including $100 kindles better than Google or Microsoft will. I don’t know how long it will take, but I do know that Amazon can move quickly when it wants. The goal of VDI isn’t that disruptive any more, but Amazon is. This firm has destroyed its competitors sector by sector. VDI is the solution – it will end the pain associated with BYOD and drive down desktop costs. The Kindle will be an enterprise-class device.  Look at books, AWS, e-commerce, Amazon storage, even Mayday first, and then sit back and watch WorkSpaces.

Few UC vendors can support virtualized desktops with any scalability. Mitel can with VMware View. The trick is to use the codec on the local hardware – most VDI softphones use the codec on the server which kills scalability.


Dave Michels