Carriers to the Cloud

Cloud computing is a big deal, as is unified communications. A significant recent trend is that big carriers are getting involved. Announcements from Verizon, XO Communications and Global Crossing show that the big boys, and their clients, are serious about unified communications in the cloud.

By Carl Weinschenk | Posted Mar 2, 2011
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One of the interesting story lines of the Enterprise Connect conference in Orlando – and of unified communications now – is the emergence of the cloud as a delivery mechanism for big vendors.

Of course, unified communications has been in the cloud/hosted world for a while. The transfer of emphasis from capital expenditures to operational expenditures – roughly, building to leasing/renting – has long been persuasive to small companies.

Now, however, the latest news – cloud-based unified communications and related services from Verizon, XO Communications and Global Crossing making announcements – shows that the idea has gained traction with big carriers and their generally big clients. Here's a story at Data Center Knowledge that discusses the three big moves.

Verizon got the most attention. The new offering, which has the long name Unified Communications & Collaboration-as-a-Service, charges on a per-seat basis, according to Connected Planet. The story says that the offering includes voice call control, presence, instant messaging and others features. The piece points to one of the most compelling attributes of the cloud, which is that companies only pay for the services that they need and use.

XO's service is called Enterprise Cloud Communications. The service is described in a nutshell at eWeek:

Features of Enterprise Cloud Communications include IP telephony and unified communications applications, free local and site-to-site calling within the enterprise, long-distance calling plans, enterprise-wide HD voice and HD video, choices of IP phone sets from Cisco and Polycom, a Web portal for managing service for each location and employees' Quality of Service monitoring, MPLS IP-VPN network services, Robust Service Level Agreements for all services and business-continuity capabilities.
Though it doesn't mention unified communications by name, it is the basis of Global Crossing's Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS) offering, which the company introduced this week.
 
The service, according to the company, encompasses the carrier's IP virtual private network (VPN), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking, Ready Access hosted audio conferencing services and Global Crossing Connect Mobile. Other services, such as virtual computing, storage and infrastructure, will follow, the company says.
 
The move of big players into the cloud-based unified communications sector is significant, and it likely won't end with these three announcements.

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