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January 15, 2014

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Frost & Sullivan

Industry Analyst, Information & Communications Technologies

Information & Communications



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Microsoft Offers Preview of its Promised Cloud UCC Services

Microsoft has unveiled three Technical Preview programs, known to the rest of us as public beta tests, all of which are centered around the newly christened Skype for Business. Qualified U.S.-based Office 365 customers can get an early look at some significant new communications and collaboration capabilities that Microsoft suggests will be in general availability later this year. By applying at, customers will soon be able to preview:

Skype Meeting Broadcast: Announced in June, Skype Meeting Broadcast enables large scale video broadcasts, up to 10,000 viewers across the Internet. Skype Meeting Broadcast makes Skype for Business a competitor in the growing webinar market and fills a significant gap created by the end of life of LiveMeeting.

PSTN Conferencing: While Lync/Skype for Business has long supported audio conferencing, it has been limited to participants over IP. PSTN Conferencing addresses a significant functionality shortcoming, enabling people invited to a meeting to join via dial-in or dial-out over PSTN.

Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling: Office 365 customers will be able to make and receive phone calls to and from the outside world from Skype for Business, along with the traditional PBX functionality include call hold, forward and call. While limited to the U.S., Microsoft will provide phone numbers during the trial. Cloud PBX is expected to be available worldwide in the before the end of the calendar year, along with the capability to use a business’ existing on-premises circuits.

Our take: This is the day that industry watchers, customers and Microsoft partners have been waiting for. Skype for Business customers were required to either deploy servers on-premises, work with carriers offering hosted Lync or integrate in third-party PBXs to connect to the PSTN. Cloud PBX adds a new option directly from Microsoft itself. With this very public trial program, the company is putting customers and service providers on notice: Microsoft wants to be a carrier of voice services. The mere presence of Microsoft in the VoIP market will certainly alter the competitive landscape.

Cloud PBX also reminds us of the importance that businesses of all sizes place on voice. With the many available ways for businesses to communicate with their customers and suppliers, few are as ubiquitous as a phone call, and not even Microsoft can move customers away from the public switched telephone network.

What are your thoughts?

Posted on July 01, 2015 at 4:12 PM
Avaya’s Web Integration Opportunities Take Shape with Esna Acquisition

Unified communications powerhouse Avaya announced that it has acquired Esna to “accelerate the adoption of communications-enabled applications for both enterprises and midmarket companies”.

Our quick take: This acquisition definitely makes sense for Avaya. Esna’s solutions bridge the gap between the on-premises communications platform with web-based applications like Salesforce and Google Apps that many businesses have come to know and rely on. While Avaya has been making inroads on web integration within its own products, bringing Esna’s technology and brain trust into the fold will immediately invigorate those efforts.

However, it remains to be seen whether Esna, as a wholly owned subsidiary of Avaya, can maintain its existing partnerships with Avaya’s competitors, such as Cisco and Mitel. While it has been made clear that Esna intends to not only maintain support but continue to develop for non-Avaya PBX and UC platforms, it is also hard to imagine that these competing UC vendors are interested in helping Avaya’s bottom line.

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Posted on May 28, 2015 at 3:21 PM
Re: True or False: One Billion People will be Using Microsoft Universal Communications in this Decade

The term "universal communications" feels very Star Trek to me, which is honestly a good thing. It invokes the notion of the seamless communications that we (both as consumers and industry watchers) have been pining for.

While I wouldn't define what Microsoft is offering today as universal, I really liked that they made a point to demo the cross-platform capabilities of Lync clients, showing all of us that they understand that their products exist is a BYOD world. This is a far cry from the Microsoft of old that would have supported their own mobile devices only as an effort to prop up a less successful business unit.

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 2:53 PM