Toshiba’s Dual Hybrid Cloud Approach

by Sandra Gustavsen

We’ve referenced before the many market studies that validate the shift toward hosted/cloud unified communications in general, but also highlight a growing preference for hybrid cloud-premises implementations that involve a combination of on-site equipment and hosted services. A 2015 IDG Enterprise survey finds the number of small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and enterprises planning to implement a hybrid unified communications and collaboration model is rising, citing 54% of enterprises and 42% of SMBs in their survey are preparing to do so in the next two years (compared to 30% and 27% using a hybrid approach today).

Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Telecommunication Systems Division is on board with the trend toward the hybrid cloud – and has been for a while. Toshiba first introduced its VIPedge cloud-based service in 2012 as a hosted version of the company’s IPedge IP-based communications system (both have the same software stream), adding this “as-a-service” option to its well-known portfolio of telephony systems and other on-premises business communications solutions. Toshiba’s experience in communications dates back 140 years.

Since 2012, Toshiba has been developing additional cloud-related offerings, including hybrid solutions that make use of both on-site equipment and hosted services – often a perfect fit for the company’s installed base of IPedge systems, Strata CIX converged IP/digital systems and even earlier Strata CTX digital systems. Toshiba tells us that investment protection and ensuring that customers are not left behind as technology moves forward are top-of-mind during its research and development cycles.

Hybrid Cloud Approaches

To explain further, virtually all of the traditional telephony vendors are now offering some cloud-based solutions. These may include (1) Hybrid Applications that allow a business customer to subscribe to hosted/cloud services for some applications, while using on-site solutions for others and/or (2) Hybrid Networking whereby a multi-site organization can deploy an on-site telephony system at some locations, while subscribing to a cloud telephony service at others and tying all locations together as a single network with feature transparency and common applications regardless of the deployment model.

While many of its competitors are moving quickly to develop and roll out solutions for both hybrid approaches, Toshiba is already there.

In June 2014, Toshiba introduced Hybrid Cloud Networking among the company’s hosted/cloud telephony UC service (VIPedge) and its premises-based business phone systems (IPedge and Strata CIX). Toshiba customers can also utilize the company’s SIP Trunking I-VoIP Service for free local and long distance calling among all networked locations. Toshiba’s VIPedge Application Service followed in September 2014, making Unified Messaging and Unified Communications applications available “as-a-service” for Toshiba customers with a Strata CIX or upgraded Strata CTX system (these applications are already built into the company’s IPedge software). In 2015, Toshiba announced common management across its cloud and on-site solutions with the latest version of its Enterprise Manager browser-based administration tool.

A Case in Point

Toshiba has a number of actual hybrid cloud deployments under its belt, including Dixie Plywood and Lumber Company, a Toshiba customer since 1996. Dixie Plywood has added Toshiba’s VIPedge cloud-based business telephone service to its existing network of IPedge and Strata CIX on-premises systems, creating a unified hybrid network across 12 locations in five states. With Toshiba as the single vendor, multi-site businesses like Dixie Plywood can choose the deployment type (cloud or on-premises or a mix of both) that makes the most sense for their particular business communications needs and requirements.

Look for additional IPedge software improvements in 2016 that will benefit Toshiba’s installed base of IP-PBX systems (a huge opportunity in terms of software and support contracts and the potential to integrate these as part of a hybrid cloud migration) and the company’s VIPedge cloud service. Any new IPedge software developments effectively “kill two birds with one stone” since the improvements will benefit both deployment types (premises and cloud). Toshiba will also be introducing more hosted applications in 2016, including meet-me conferencing, contact center and disaster recovery delivered from the cloud. Stay tuned.