Nortel CVAS Unveils Scalable Hosted VoIP Solution

Having successfully wrapped its arms around the SMB market for the past two years, Nortel’s Carrier VoIP and Application Solutions division (or CVAS, which is in the process of being acquired by GENBAND) is looking to extend the reach of its carrier-hosted IP communications solution to embrace the enterprise market.

At last week’s VoiceCon tradeshow in Orlando, Nortel CVAS let it be known it is ready to go prime time with its carrier-hosted solution.

The company scored a major win when British Telecom adopted its solution in the service of a larger government agency with some 150,000 lines.

“The fact that we were able to prove it for something so large is really a key thing. It’s one thing to say we have a solution, but now we have actually proven it in a real-life scenario,” said CVAS director of product marketing Mitch Simcoe.

SMBs have been moving toward hosted solutions on the basis of low cost and ease of use. While enterprise users are looking for the same things, Simcoe said, Nortel CVAS is able to sweeten the deal with a promise that it can help these users leverage their existing investments.

“If you just have 50 lines and you want to move to IP, it is fairly easy,” he said. “With these large agencies that have so much invested, they really can’t afford to do a rip and replace. They need some way to make this a more gradual migration path.”

Migration is a key issue in courting the enterprise market, where the costs of a telecom swap can run toward the astronomical if bitten off all at once. “When you look at the cost of going to IP, there is the cost of the phone set which maybe $150 or $200 a line. Then you have to get your LAN upgraded to support voice. There are all these costs that an enterprise has to incur, and they may not be ready to do this all at once,” Simcoe elaborated.

The Nortel CVAS solution rests on the ability to operate both legacy (TDM) and IP lines together. In this scenario, a feature like call park can operate seamlessly across systems, handing off from old to new without interruption.

The company has tried to address what it sees as the most common concerns raised by enterprise users looking to migrate to a hosted model.

Foremost among these is the question of control, Simcoe said. Customers want the same kind of management autonomy delivered by a traditional on-premise PBX: the ability to control features, to manage adds and changes independently.

There is concern in the marketplace that a hosted solution may take away control, on account of being managed in someone else’s shop. Simcoe says Nortel CVAS developers worked hard to keep control in the hands of the user.

Security has been a close runner-up in customer concerns, the worry being that service providers could have too much access to a customer’s assets. Simcoe cites the use of session border controllers and other technology to ensure that carriers can and do remain hands-off.

Nortel CVAS is betting that if these types of hurdles can be overcome, carriers will find ample reason to sign onto its hosted solution. In particular, carriers will be looking to these tools as a way to round out their other product offerings.

“Some of them, like British Telecom, are very aggressively promoting services such as data services, storage, backup,” Simcoe said. “They are trying to tell their customers to outsource everything to their cloud, and they see voice as one key element to that.”

With competitors like BroadSoft and Alcatel-Lucent also making waves in the realm of hosted solutions, Nortel CVAS is looking to go vertical with its carrier-grade solution. In particular, hospitality, education, and government institutions may be ready to make the change.

Simcoe described a “push-pull” approach to these markets. Some on the team will be out selling hard, while others work internally to build a case for the solution based on a growing body of hard evidence.

“We have had some successes for the government sector, and now we want to really document how that has been valuable to these agencies, what has been the value proposition,” Simcoe said. “We want to try to promote that in a number of verticals.”

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