20 Notable UC And Video Products To Keep An Eye On4:00 PM EST Thu. Mar. 29, 2012
Enterprise Connect, formerly known as VoiceCon, is the annual spring showcase for all things relating to unified communications and networking, and this year's show had enough product debuts and services launches to get partner tongues wagging.
Here's a look at 20 unified communications, contact center and video products and service launches that stood out from the pack.
Avaya's been busy lately, preparing for an IPO and announcing a planned acquisition of video specialist Radvision, and at Enterprise Connect it took the wraps off of AvayaLive, a set of cloud services that includes a hosted UC offering for SMBs. It's a major step forward for Avaya's hosted communications strategy, and is intended for business with 20 employees or fewer to procure and provision online. Avaya also rebranded its web.alive collaboration environment -- an avatar-based social media platform -- as AvayaLive Engage 3.0.
Aastra's new UC client, BluStar, is the latest expansion of its overall BluStar portfolio, which also includes a desktop media phone that began shipping last fall. Now comes the BluStar client, which is available for laptops and tablets, including the iPad, and smartphones, including the iPhone, and is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2012.
CallCopy's cc: Discover, which the company presented at Enterprise Connect, is a workforce optimization software suite that covers call recording, quality management, agent coaching, enhanced reporting, speech analytics, agent screen capture, performance management, customer satisfaction surveys, workforce management and desktop analytics. CallCopy also provides an API to encourage third-party development and systems integration with its software tools.
Cisco's major Enterprise Connect-related announcements included updates to Jabber, its application for embedding UC functions into Web-accessible devices, and a new telepresence system, the TX9000, which can support 1080p, 60fps resolution and 1080p 30fps data sharing, accommodating up to 18 users with an expansion table. Cisco is positioning both as key additions to its overall collaboration strategy, which according to Cisco represents a potential $42 billion opportunity for Cisco partners over the next few years.
Wrike was among four companies chosen for Enterprise Connect's Innovation Showcase. It offers social project collaboration software that combines project management tools with social networking features and integrates those tools and features with customer e-mail.
Windstream-owned Allworx had several new products at Enterprise Connect, including its 9202E IP Phone and version 7.4 of its system software. The former expands Allworx's IP phone line to include a scaled-down, more minimalist model at entry level pricing, plus features such as Power over Ethernet and a full-duplex speakerphone. And the latter, Version 7.4, offers one-step and two-step call transfer and transfer to voicemail among other call routing functions.
Esna Technologies confirmed general availability of its Office LinX Cloud Connect software, which integrates Cisco's Unity Connection platform with various cloud applications such as Google Apps and VMware Zimbra and various on-premise applications such as Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise. Office LinX Cloud Connect arrived in beta late last year, and leverages Cisco's Jabber SDK.
Voice4Net, which specializes in customer interaction and voice communications services, launched its Contact Center HD, a contact center platform for both on-premise and hosted environments that integrates various media and communications streams -- such as voice, e-mail and chat -- with social networks and mobile communications.
UC provider Zultys offered several updates in the MX Release 7.0 of its collaboration platform, including a customizable UC client and a mobile communicator for Android-based devices. The MX platform itself is an an all-in one, SIP-based IP phone system, and other updates contained in the 7.0 release include bulked-up security, expanded contact center features such as a "Superview" feature for real-time statistics monitoring, and expanded integration capabilities with Salesforce- and Microsoft-based CRM systems.
VOSS Solutions, which handles UC service fulfillment, has partnered with ISI Telemanagement Solutions (ISI) to provide UC business analytics and related services to global customers. The first new offering is the UC-BAS (UC Business Analytics Solution), which draws on each company's respective expertise to provide customers will real-time reports, on-screen dashboards, service tracking, trunk utilization data, license consumption metrics and telecom expense management services.
Avencall's XiVO is an open-source phone and UC system based on Asterisk -- the latest in a series of small vendors looking to capitalize on the growing popularity of the Asterisk communications project and its attendant developer community. Based in France, Avencall's strategic partners include Genesys, with whom it is a premier partner, and Asterisk phone system heavyweight Digium, with whose interface telephony cards its XiVO appliance combines to be configured as an IP-PBX, a voice mail server, a VoIP gateway and other applications.
M5 Communicator is the first new product from M5 Networks following its acquisition by ShoreTel and subsequent rebranding as ShoreTel Cloud Division. The communicator is an application, accessible via PC or Mac, that offers instant messaging, peer to peer video chat, file transfer, screen-share and other capabilities, including presence functions. It's part of the broader M5 Unified Communications Suite, which offers hosted VoIP, conferencing, unified messaging, call recording, contact center features and business intelligence, among other tools.
Scrappy IP phone provider snom confirmed a new partnership with hosted services specialist Chinook Communications to deliver an integrated voice and UC service bundle called Total Connect. Chinook will leverage snom UC edition business phones as the preferred endpoints within its cloud-hosted Microsoft Lync service, and Total Connect offers the full range of Lync Server 2010 voice communications features, from conferencing to e-mail services. Snom's 300 UC edition, 370 UC edition and 821 UC edition are the specific endpoints used, and Total Connect will be offered as a pay-as-you-go bundle to customers.
Video managed services are a fast-growing channel play within the overall red-hot market for video communications, and several vendors and MSPs, including ScienceLogic have tapped into the opportunity with new products and services. ScienceLogic recently added videoconferencing management capabilities to its EM7 platform -- including video asset and inventory management, health and availability, call detail and historic call analysis features -- and customers with up-to-date versions can add video management as a download at no additional cost.
CounterPath brought a number of new products and services to Enterprise Connect, including Bria desktop and mobile softphone applications, its CounterPath Client Configuration server, and SoftPhone.com, a cloud-based offering for SMBs that connects X-Lite softphones to other X-Lite softphone users leveraging those users' existing IP-PBX or hosted SIP-based systems. CounterPath's advantage is its flexibility; the company's desktop and mobile softphones are interoperable with platforms from Alcatel-Lucent, Asterisk, Avaya, BroadSoft, Cisco, Digium, Ericsson, Genband, Huawei, Mavenir, Metaswitch, Mitel, NEC, Nortel, Panasonic and Siemens. The SoftPhone.com offering will work for X-Lite customers up to 30 users.
Mobile UC specialist Damaka used Enterprise Connect to promote Xime, its recently released software client for extending video, audio, IM, presence and desktop sharing capabilities of IBM Sametime out to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets with no additional software or hardware needed. Xime works for Android, Apple iOS, Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile platforms.
HP and Polycom, along with mutual ally Microsoft, are strengthening their ties with two new bundled offerings. One is AppSystem, an integrated UC platform built on HP's converged infrastructure products and intended for rapid deployment of Microsoft's Lync UC platform, along with full integration of Polycom's RealPresence software. The other, which will be sold through channel partners, is HP and Polycom Rich Media Communications (RMC), a bundled offering of HP Networking products, including HP's 12500 and 10550 series switches, and Polycom's RealPresence video products. HP and Polycom representatives told CRN that more such bundles will be made available in the future.
Fast-rising videoconferencing upstart Vidyo is pulling out all the stops with two new releases: the Virtual Edition of its VidyoRouter, which uses the virtualization of the media plane to scale videoconferencing use in real time, and a white label program, through which Vidyo Virtual Network Operators (VVNO) will be able to co-brand and resell Vidyo products as a service to enterprise customers.
Radvision, which is in the process of being acquired by Avaya, brought to Enterprise Connect its recently confirmed SCOPIA XT5000, a high-end videoconferencing system that offers dual 1080p/60fps live video content, HD audio, H.264 high profile and SVC compatibility, and iPad multi-touch control. Radvision recently told CRN that later software updates will include a nine-way embedded MCU.
Headset and hands-free communications specialist Jabra has earned its share of buzz for its Mobile Worker line, and it included Supreme UC, Freeway and Speak 410 among the products Jabra showcased at Enterprise Connect. Supreme UC is billed as the first non-stereo headset to incorporate active noise cancellation technology, while Freeway is an in-car speakerphone for making on-the-go calls, and Speak 410 is a portable speakerphone for office needs.