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January 28, 2014

First WebRTC Client in Enhanced UC Solution Key to GENBAND Generation Enterprise Push

Here are two questions to start the New Year.

  1. Is 2014 the year migration solutions for legacy PBXs to IP-based frictionless connectivity and seamless experiences—be they premises-based, cloud, hybrid, managed services or a combination of these—become cost-effective, high-performance, secure enterprise reality?
  2. Will all of the hype surrounding the disruptive capabilities of WebRTC actually begin disrupting not just the PBX and managed services markets, but also accelerate widespread use of unified communications (UC)?

Frisco, TX-based IP solutions provider GENBAND has placed two markers down that indicate the answer to both questions can be yes. With the announcement of their Generation Enterprise™ framework for IP convergence and SMARTOFFICE 2.0—the enhanced version of their UC solution that can run on premise or in the cloud which now features the first commercially available WebRTC client from a major UC player and is a key part of the Generation Enterprise value proposition—if nothing else they have set the competitive bar high.

This belief comes from a test drive of the WebRTC client. Designed from the ground up for mobile it is touch-screen accessible. The combination of easy-to-use web-enabled real-time communications and frictionless connectivity was compelling. This is an instance where seeing, touching and feeling is believing. I say this as somebody who keeps my camera turned off during rare video calls I make, although the quality now has me tempted.

The end user experience, thanks to WebRTC, is as advertised different, compelling and confirms all of the prognostications about being disruptive.

Plus, for the IT professionals, the framework for moving quickly, efficiently and effectively to IP according to needs and budgets, of which the desirability for deployment of SMART OFFICE 2.0 is likely going to be a driver makes sense. It hits all of the proof case benefits for accelerating migration to IP that now make such a move no longer a question of if but rather when, where, why and how.

At this week’s ITEXPO business technology event in Miami, Fla., WebRTC is the topic of a number of keynote sessions. The SmartVoice Conference which is collocated with the event will include a session titled, “Smart Voice, UC, and WebRTC - How Do They all Fit Together?” Jan. 28 at 4:30 p.m. and “What WebRTC Means to Your Enterprise Communications,” will be held Wed. Jan. 29 at 11 a.m.

Also, on Thurs., Jan. 30 another ITEXPO session titled, “Generating Revenue with WebRTC,” will discuss the ways service providers can leverage this emerging technology to build new multimedia applications to extend their value to existing customers and attract new subscribers.

Generation Enterprise: Next Generation of UC

Generation Enterprise is at the heart of GENBAND’s increased focus on the enterprise, which as Carl Baptiste, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, told TMC “are the customers we and our service provider customers must delight.”  What is different in GENBAND’s view is that this new UC framework is specifically designed for an increasingly mobile and cloud-based world for enterprises from the ground up. It is way more than a mere overlay.

Generation Enterprise delivers secure communications (HD voice, HD video, collaboration) across multiple devices (tablets, smartphones, desk phones, PCs) and networks (wired and wireless, private and public, TDM and IP). As highlighted below it has been enhanced by the industry’s first commercially available WebRTC-enabled UC platform from a major vendor in the form of SMART OFFICE 2.0. In fact, unlike pure cloud WebRTC implementations it provides a flexible, software-based deployment options for enterprises, governments and universities, whether on premise, in the cloud, or as a hybrid or hosted solution.

To the points about ubiquitous connectivity in an enterprise environment that is increasingly cloud and mobility-centric, the graphic below sums up what the framework is all about.

Source:  GENBAND

“We designed Generation Enterprise to meet the productivity, ease-of-use and collaboration requirements in an increasingly mobile-driven communications economy,” said David Walsh, CEO of GENBAND. “Generation Enterprise addresses communications challenges facing many of the world’s largest and most vital organizations by enabling cost-effective, non-disruptive migration of legacy enterprise voice systems to IP. For our channel and service provider partners, Generation Enterprise enables a rapid go-to-market approach for breakthrough standards like WebRTC with value-added, over-the-Internet applications that are ideal for today’s highly mobile workforce.”

In short, it is about what SIP enables, i.e., IT is positioned to facilitate seamless session management via software that is managed and deployed, policy-based, user-centric rather than device-centric and context aware. 

Generation Enterprise is an end-to-end solution powered by GENBAND’s carrier-class EXPERiUS™ Application Server platform; the QUANTiX™ portfolio (which includes a scalable session border controller (BC); the high-density CONTiNUUM™ gateway family; and NUViA™ cloud solutions.

Also at ITEXPO this week, a session titled, “SBCs in Your Enterprise Network Infrastructure,” on Thurs. Jan. 30, will explore the growth of the E-SBC market and expertise on what enterprises need from their SBCs, how it fits into their IP communications infrastructures.

Jon Jorgl, President of Enterprise Solutions for GENBAND explained that, “By creating a premium cloud-based user experience…Generation Enterprise solutions reduce operational, equipment and other network costs by 20 to 70 percent using advanced session management technology to overlay existing third party environments or through a complete transformation to a GENBAND-enabled UC solution.”

Important to note is that GENBAND owns Nortel intellectual property that positions it as a leading candidate to migrate the installed base of large enterprise Nortel SL-100/ CS 2100/CS10 systems by enabling them to migrate cost-effectively to next gen UC and other IP capabilities without a major forklift.  And, it is not just the Nortel base which is a target for Generation Enterprise’s ability to replace legacy PBX systems, replace on-premises voicemail with a cloud system, provide PBX mirroring for Disaster Recovery. It is also aimed at companies looking for a major upgrade.  At a time when the installed base of PBXs is at historic levels in terms of age, this too is an inviting market for GENBAND, its channels and service provider customers.

As Batiste explained, Generation Enterprise is foundational because it relates to making migration ubiquitous and easy for the long-term and economical in the short-run.  Generation Enterprise leverages the full value of SIP through the entire GENBAND IP portfolio, enabling network simplification, security and advanced session management. It also provides the above mentioned UC and collaboration capabilities through a rich set of APIs, and the GENBANDs SPiDR™ WebRTC Gateways that serve as an intelligent bridge between traditional VoIP networks and the open ecosystem of the Internet. And open up opportunities for new revenue streams from existing wireless and fixed communication assets by service providers.

A touch of UC via WebRTC

The new IP architecture framework is plumbing and essential and compelling for those of us with passion about plumbing. However, as an observer of major sea changes, it was taking SMART OFFICE 2.O out for a spin that got the juices flowing.  Experiencing disruption in real-time was  in a word illuminating. 

A picture in this case may not do the power of WebRTC justice since it is static. However, since we all are now mobile device reliant look at the screen shot below and image not just the capabilities pictured but they are drag and drop.  

Source:  GENBAND

Part of the revelation here is that SMART OFFICE 2.0, while an end-to-end UC solution for enterprise-wide collaboration, makes a user’s business identity – their phone number – device independent. This is fulfillment of the now almost two decade’s promise of what I have called in short-hand always/all ways.com.  

SMART OFFICE 2.0 was built with the mobile tablet experience in mind. It is different from the typical UC desktop in that it is touch-screen. The drag and drop capabilities mean users can have the same experience no matter where they are. Thanks to WebRTC it is all done via the browser and will work with iOS and Android devices.

Capabilities included:

  • Seamless escalation and de-escalation of collaboration tools: Users can seamlessly add, remove and switch collaboration tools mid-conversation.
  • Conversation Management: Through one click, SMART OFFICE 2.0 enables users to reconnect an entire multimedia conversation with one or many participants.
  • Multitasking within an application: Most mobile clients were designed for a PC and adapted to smaller form factors, making it difficult, if not impossible, for mobile users to carry on multiple conversations simultaneously. SMART OFFICE 2.0 enables users to simultaneously engage in a six-person video call while chatting or screen sharing with co-workers.

Other key features include Call Grabber (seamless office/mobile call handoff), multi-party voice and video conferencing, presence, group chat, multi-party screen sharing, Microsoft® integration and Unified Messaging.

WebRTC is here and now.  I think if you try it you will like it. Plus, after all of the years waiting for UC to fulfill its promise and actually have users want to use it, this could be the year.  

Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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