Unify’s OpenScape Cloud: A Q&A

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Recently, Unify (a division of the European IT service company Atos) released the OpenScape Cloud service, an integration of the company’s Circuit team collaboration software-as-a-service (SaaS) application and its OpenScape Voice solution as a single cloud-based service.

Each solution on its own – Circuit and OpenScape Voice – has been available as a hosted offering for some time. Circuit debuted in October 2014 as one of the first in a new category of as-a-service teamwork solutions that combines voice, video, screen sharing, messaging and file sharing into a single user interface (more on the team collaboration trend here). OpenScape Voice, a SIP-based voice application for mid-to-large enterprises, dates back to 2004 when Unify was known as Siemens Communications Group. OpenScape Voice can be deployed either on-premises or in the cloud. What’s new from Unify is the combination and integration of the two as a single cloud service and seamless user experience for both voice and collaboration.

We reached out to Unify with a series of questions to get some specifics on the target market, scale, delivery methods and subscription options available with OpenScape Cloud, as well as what’s coming next. Here is an edited version of our Q&A with Darren Gallagher, Director, Global Solution Management for Unify.

What is the target market for the new OpenScape Cloud in terms of customer size and regional availability?
We are selling via our distributors, resellers and global service providers to customers of any size, from small up to very large organizations with an unlimited number of users. Our OpenScape Cloud instance can support massive scale per tenant, from a team of say five users to the largest companies in the world (very large organizations often have requirements that demand managed, hybrid or private cloud deployment models which are delivered through Atos). We have designed different packaging options to offer a solution that is cost-effective for any size of business. Currently, OpenScape Cloud is available in Germany, France, the UK and the U.S., with expansion in the near term to all 30 countries where Circuit is now offered. Seven more countries are planned for the future (custom agreements for additional countries can be made on a case by case basis).

How many data centers are hosting the solution? What are the service delivery options?
We have two primary Data Centers, one in the U.S. and one that supports Europe, with another data center providing geo-redundancy. For service delivery, we are able to support any network presentation, including point-to-point Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) or private Ethernet. For speed of provisioning, elasticity and cost effectiveness, over-the-top (OTT) connectivity via the Internet is the fastest way to connect to the service.
(Side note: SD-WAN has been making big headlines lately as the next frontier for enterprise networking and a better approach to handling the high-bandwidth requirements of the modern workplace, including the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications for information technologies (IT) and unified communications and collaboration (UC&C); more on SD-WAN as it relates to cloud UC here.)

What type of user packages are available with OpenScape Cloud?
OpenScape Cloud includes four subscription options: Essential, Team, Professional and Enterprise. All packages can be mixed within a customer’s tenant, and all packages support the same voice-related features, including unlimited calling and popular telephony/UC features, plus the Circuit team collaboration application. Essential supports up to 100 users per tenant and three concurrent session users, while Team allows an unlimited number of users and six concurrent sessions. Users and sessions are unlimited with Professional and Enterprise subscriptions.

Does the new combined cloud offering deliver the full suite of OpenScape Voice features?
After considerable market, customer and analyst research, we’ve launched the OpenScape Cloud platform with parity for the most critical features. All OpenScape Cloud packages come standard with these key features: voice, voicemail, call management and system administration, instant messaging and presence, social collaboration (Circuit), audio and video calling, screen sharing, web browser-based and mobile clients, Outlook plug-in and language support. In upcoming release sprints, we will grow that balance of parity between traditional features (which our customers tell us are still important) combined with the digital change to workflows that our modern collaboration experience brings.

Are hybrid arrangements possible such that a multi-site customer can have a Unify telephony system deployed locations, while subscribing to OpenScape Cloud in others?
Yes, we support multiple hybrid deployments such as Circuit overlaying an on-premises OpenScape Voice or OpenScape Business deployment, for example. We can also move specific locations completely to cloud, while other locations utilize an on-premises installation of OpenScape Voice, OpenScape Enterprise Express, OpenScape 4000, or any third-party SIP-enabled communications platform. We have made the offer particularly attractive to our existing customers by offering them a managed migration option with reduced cost licenses. This helps them migrate to the cloud at their own pace.

In 2011, Unify (back when the company was known as Siemens Enterprise Communications) announced “OpenScape Cloud Solutions” that included hosted voice, UC and Web collaboration. Is the new OpenScape Cloud offering considered the next version of this?
The recently-announced OpenScape Cloud is an entirely new offering and a fully developed integration of OpenScape Voice and Circuit as a seamless user experience of voice and collaboration. From the beginning, the packaging was developed and designed to provide the widest choice of deployment models from a cost-effective highly-standardized public cloud offering. The 2011 offering was built upon OpenScape Voice, OpenScape UC and OpenScape Web Collaboration and was only available as a private cloud deployment model through partners.

Unify tells us that some additional capabilities are coming soon for OpenScape Cloud, including a managed, hybrid option (a virtualized private cloud instance deployment model to be offered by Atos) and another, more advanced user package option that is “still under wraps.” Stay tuned.

Sandra Gustavsen