At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2009 in New Orleans this month, Ensim Corporation and BroadSoft demonstrated a joint platform aimed at helping service providers offer unified communications services to small and medium size businesses.
The objective, according to BroadSoft CTO Scott Hoffpauir, is straightforward: to make it as simple as possible for service providers to offer hosted UC services. "With the joint solution, we can have something that to the outside looks like its all managed the same: one point of provisioning, one point of management," he says. "That makes it easier for the service provider to take it to market, easier to manageand a more predictable grade of service that they can provide to small or medium size businesses."
The platform is based on Ensim Unify Service Provider Edition 4.7.0, with built-in support for BroadSofts BroadWorks platform, Microsofts Hosted Messaging and Collaboration Solution 4.5 http://www.microsoft.com/hosting/solutions/hostedmessaging.mspx, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/, and Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 http://www.microsoft.com/communicationsserver/.
Ensim CEO David J. Wippich says the platforms key strength lies in the fact that its a complete, out-of-the-box solution that "does all the provisioning and management, with all of the connectivity of the applications already pre-built. [Its] able to provision a user into his voice, his e-mail, his IM, his voicemail, all simultaneously, in a single processwith no requirement for big services engagements and lots of customization."
As a result, Wippich says, the service-provider customer can go to market very quickly. The solution has already been deployed by UK-based Outsourcery Limitedwhich "was able to deploy in a very short period of time," Wippich says. "Really, the longest lead time in any of these scenarios is generally getting the proper hardware ordered and ready. The deployment actually becomes quite simple when you have it all pre-built."
Thats significantly different, Wippich says, from the typical enterprise experience with unified communications, in which "nothing talks to each other, nothing connects to each other, and youve got a big 6- or 12-month engagement, you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions, connecting everything and putting it all togetherand what you end up with is a custom environment at the end which becomes expensive to support and maintain."
Pricing for the joint solution depends on a number of different factors, including the combination of services required. "Theres no joint package pricing, but we all work within our respective value propositions and price competitively to get the deal and go to market with the customer," Wippich says.
The response to the demo at the Worldwide Partner Conference, Wippich says, was extremely positive. "We showed a complete demonstration, from inception through all the creation steps of all the different applicationsprovisioning, management, changing, the actual voice devices we put a lot of work into it, but I think it was very worthwhile," he says.
The point is that people already have a clear sense of the value proposition of unified communications, Wippich says, but theyre put off by the inherent challenges. "People understand the employee productivity increases that come from itnow the question is, how do I deploy it as quickly and easily and cost-effectively as possible?" he says.
And so, Wippich says, the challenge ultimately comes down to making it as easy as possible to deploy. "You can have a great thing if youre able to connect all these parts together by yourself, but most people say, Well, it would be great to have this seamless solution, but its going to be so complicated to build and then manage, and then they throw up their hands," he says. "And so were able to go out and show it to them in a complete turnkey fashion, already pre-built and pre-connected."