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Siemens is building out new capabilities for its OpenScape platform, as well as organizing its channel partners, with cloud, mobility and IP communications trends firmly in mind.
According to Siemens' own State of Enterprise Communications 2012 Study, which was released this week and polled 1,100 enterprise respondents in January 2012, pure IP infrastructures save enterprises more than 43 percent over traditional PBX systems. But most enterprises aren't prepared for rip-and-replace infrastructure or a complete IP overhaul; 91 percent of Siemens' respondents said they run IP communications next to legacy PBX in a hybrid environment.
Mobility has also taken hold; Siemens found that most enterprises had just 20 percent of endpoints dedicated to phones at headquarters locations. That de-centralization -- and the embrace of cloud computing services that goes with it -- is happening now: 16 percent of Siemens survey respondents said they had cloud services in place, but nearly half said that cloud services were part of their 2012 communications plans. Web collaboration, UC and video conferencing dominate the list of cloud services those organizations plan to deploy.
"The opportunity is pretty well mapped out now," said Rick Puskar, senior vice president, global portfolio management for Siemens Enterprise Communications. "Managed services are an area where we see our partners really benefiting from some of these transitions. As customers moves into these scalable UC environments, that's a big opportunity to help them."
The latest OpenScape additions reflect a lot of those trends. To version 7 of the platform comes support for up to 500,000 users per system (or as few as 100 users), unified presence, messaging contact and directory integration, and a range of mobile capabilities, including open support for all major mobile OSes, smart phones and tablets.
"We're really proud we were able to come up with one single user experience functionality," said Jan Hickish, vice president, UCC suite, global portfolio management, at Siemens Enterprise Communications, who also noted that Siemens can offer UCC capabilities for Apple iOS and Google Android with integrated voice and a "swipe" feature that allows for fixed-mobile convergence and handover between various phones.
Version 7 will also offer built in XMPP federation with other UC, messaging, collaboration and social media tools, including cloud-based Google Apps. Overall, several pieces of the OpenScape portfolio -- Voice, Session Border Controller, Branch, Management Suite -- have seen numerous deployment and infrastructural additions, from PSTN gateway for Branch and higher capacity support for analog lines, to virtualization support for all OpenScape elements.
Hickish said Siemens Enterprise Communications' goal was to consistently upgrade the platform toward this various cloud and mobility trends but also maintain the flexible, open standards approach that Siemens says is its key differentiator against Cisco, Avaya and Microsoft. In the past year, Siemens has added Desktop Video Conferencing, IPv6 support, SDES protection, and a Session Border Controller and Skype Connect trunking option for that Session Border Controller.
Siemens' Hummel said the North American UC market is ripe for alternatives, what with Cisco bogged down in restructuring and Microsoft just hitting its stride on a UC software strategy with Lync. Hummel said there's an especially good opportunity to take share from Avaya, which some VARs see as distracted by its forthcoming IPO, and is experiencing ongoing executive turnover and angering solution providers with margin squeezes and program adjustments.
"Far be it for me to comment on my competition, but it does seem interesting that top executives are leaving right when they're looking to do an IPO," Hummel said of Avaya. "We're pretty stable -- we've clicked. There are always people that are going to get once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and we support that, but if we find good talent, we will find a role. Our team is in place."
Hummel said Siemens has been keen on fostering a collaborative atmosphere where executives are forthcoming about problems and his team can be plainspoken about how to grow.
"We have no-holds-barred meetings," he said. "We drop rank and drop role, and we just talk about what's going on in the business. We've learned to look at this in a very diverse sort of way."
Channel partners will be watching for how the cultural shift and growth turnaround at Siemens helps it grow this year, and beyond.
"We're very impressed with what they've done," said Ingram Micro's Bergeron, who said Siemens took its time with the OpenScape Cloud offering and spent extra months fine-tuning the platform before launch. "They've invested a lot. I think they're going about it the right way."