Mitel Blends Enterprise UC, Carrier Worlds With New IaaS Offering

With unified communications vendors big and small looking to fine-tune their cloud strategies, Mitel is putting a stake in the ground for Infrastructure-as-a-Service, opening up a piece of its carrier services business for Mitel partners interested in deeper cloud deployments.

Mitel confirmed Wednesday an offering called AnyWare IaaS, an extension of its Freedom UC architecture that lets organizations host Mitel's virtualized UC and collaboration software in virtual private data centers provided through Mitel NetSolutions, the company's competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) business.

"What we're talking about is a private cloud service," said Jon Brinton, president of Mitel NetSolutions, in a recent discussion with CRN. "When you're looking at scalability with services delivered off the public cloud, you just don't have the degree of flexibility you have in a private cloud deployment. We want to leverage the assets we have to go to a place in the market where customers want to be."

[Related: Mitel CEO: We're Going To Clean Up Our Act On Channel ]

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Mitel AnyWare IaaS offers SAS 70-compliant virtual private data center infrastructure with all the resources needed to support Mitel UC applications, including completely virtualized voice communications for private and hybrid cloud setups.

The goal, according to Brinton, was to be able to offer the same functionality to customers, via hosted infrastructure, that they'd have if they purchased IT and deployed Mitel UC applications. In other words, AnyWare IaaS solves the problem of customers that want to deploy virtualized UC but can't afford the capital expense of putting it in their own data centers.

Mitel, which in 2011 went through a management shake-up and sought to reboot as a far more channel-friendly vendor than in previous years, has staked much of its growth on the convergence of virtualization and UC. Its many rivals, from larger players such as Avaya to midsize challengers such as ShoreTel, also are developing cloud communications strategies.

Key for Mitel is its two-year-old Freedom platform, which delivers UC applications to customers via a cloud-based software stream, and Mitel AnyWare, a hosted PBX offering intended for small-business customers. Mitel also has partnered extensively with VMware, and AnyWare IaaS, is, naturally, VMware-ready.

NEXT: Opportunities Around Virtualized UC, IaaS

Virtualized UC and IaaS are door-openers for solution providers into opportunities such as solving business continuity problems, or appealing to customers who want the "one throat to choke" option of buying their infrastructure and connectivity services from the same partner and vendor, said Mitel NetSolutions' Brinton. Solution providers that are both hardware and software integrators and carrier services agents are becoming more common, he agreed.

"A lot of the channel partners are already agents of Mitel NetSolutions," Brinton said. "They're going to make money in the commercial model of selling and in lease transactions for the core [network], but they can also earn on a residual basis as agents of ours."

Unique to Mitel, Brinton added, is that its management interface and applications are the same for its on-premise and hosted offerings.

"It's not, 'We want to sell you cloud, so here's a totally different platform that has no bearing on what you'd deploy on-premise,' " Brinton explained. "A lot of competitors have different portfolios, with the two not really interacting."

Jamie Vandermeuse, director of operations at M2 Logistics, a Green Bay, Wis.-based transportation logistics company and Mitel customer, said his company needed a way to more efficiently connect its offices and customers in the same way a premise-based communications system would provide.

"[Unified communications and collaboration] is mission-critical for us, but we also don't want to use our limited data center resources on it if we don't have to. We evaluated other cloud-based UCC services, but they don't have the rich feature set and flexibility we required," Vandermeuse said in a statement.

AnyWare IaaS, formally unveiled at Interop in Las Vegas this week, is now commercially available.