SEN’s Course

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Sometimes I forget about Siemens Enterprise. I’m a fan of their solutions and approach, but they aren’t exactly a marketing machine. Although rumor has it that might change next year. The fact I forget about them doesn’t seem to bother them, they continue to make progress and the OpenScape story continues to build.

In case you forgot about them too here’s a quick recap. Siemens AG spun-out its enterprise Communications business a few years back. Siemens Enterprise Communications is a separate company – 51% owned by venture capital group The Gores Group. 49% is still owned by Siemens AG – the core products are voice, UC, and networks (Enterasys- formerly Cabletron).The company briefly went by the name Siemens Enterprise Networks, and got the nickname SEN which stuck.

Technically, SEN is a N. American company – headquartered in Virginia, but most of its customers are abroad. The company does about $3 billion in revenue and employs about 11000 people (really?). It offers solutions worldwide, a market leader in several European countries, Latin America, and quite strong in India. In the US it has a strong vertical in healthcare.

SEN recently announced OpenScape V3R2 (version 3, release 2). Lots of new features, but the big one is it now includes the collaboration suite. OpenScape Office is available as an appliance (MX), as software (LX), and as a hosted service.Everything I hear and see from SEN (which isn’t much) I do like. I am impressed with their collaboration tools – particularly iOS support. They may have been the first major UC vendor to support video conferencing to the iPhone. The company is working on its channel and reports its North American channel certifications doubled this year (now 2?). They somehow integrate with GoogleTalk and Skype via XMPP, but I don’t know what that really means (federation? voice? presence?). V3R2 also includes improvements in virtualization support, more mobility clients, and improved Outlook integration.

SEN is way ahead of its premises based competitors when it comes to hosted services (announced less than a year ago). SEN claims nearly 7 million”SMB users” globally and leading SMB share in multiple regions (not sure how much is hosted). Note, these cloud offerings are available globally, it was just an experiment when I interviewed Chris Hummel in June 2010.

Here’s my questions – I don’t have the answers yet, but I intend to have answers in the upcoming TalkingPointz SEN report planned in Q2.

  1. What became of Amazon? Their Amazon “proof of concept” was great – but that was way back in Spring 2010 I think. SEN talks up premises, cloud, hybrid – but the Amazon model they demonstrated was a slick combo. It combined Amazon’s webstore and web services and allowed the “purchase” of an OpenScape implementation on Amazon’s cloud and combined it with the estore for purchasing it and phones. It was before its time, but now Amazon supports private MPLS networking. Love the “concept” – purchase and implement a private cloud on pubic cloud infrastructure with just a few clicks. It has never been heard from since.
  2. What’s going on with Social Networks? SEN was ahead of the pack embracing social media. They were demonstrating tweets that could change call routing based on a keywords such as “at lunch” or “just landed in …” (would also lookup and change time zones). Now when the company talks about social media there’s a vague reference to GoogleTalk? Social is hot right now and SEN had an edge – I was expecting improved integration with enterprise social tools such as Yammer, SocialCast or Connections? Instead, they keep talking about Outlook.
  3. What about the name? SEN was supposed to be temporary. I was expecting a name change soon after the young company hired a CMO, but that was years ago. I suggest the name Cabletron. Rumor has it the name change is coming along with a major rebranding effort – though the term “rebranding” may be a stretch.
  4. The company was early to switch to SIP endpoints as their default approach, but I’m curious why they still make their own phones and if the endpoints are attractive to non SEN customers? Truly open solutions would suggest either non SEN phones pose an attractive option to SEN customers and/or SEN phones are attractive to non SEN customers.

Related: Podcast with Mark Stratton

Dave Michels