Q: What are you doing to integrate these hosted UC capabilities into other cloud-based services and applications that people are using?
A: Because we're in an operator's network, a thing that is quite important to them and obviously important to the end users has got to be openness of the platform. We for many years have had a set of open APIs and a pretty rich recruitment of developers that build bridges from these hosted unified communications solutions to various vertical applications to various CRM systems. We really allow the unified communications capability to drive the business process, so linkages to CRM and to Salesforce.com or a number of other CRM products out there, linkages to vertical software for hospitality, education and professional services firms, legal. We try to find ways now to take that very rich UC suite and enable that across those business processes that the enterprise might be using. I'm using Salesforce and I'm using hosted unified communications and these two things work well together and the plugs that are available and the integrations that are available are really simple and scalable in the cloud network. It's a very important part of our strategy to make sure that this unified communications capability that we're delivering through the operators is really treated as a platform that enterprises can build on and integrate with their other capabilities.
Q: As a CIO or senior IT person, what are the key things you should be looking for in UC as a service?
A: I think the enterprise customer should really be looking at operators that have the ability to deliver a complete unified communications suite, not just one component of it. I think over time you're going to be looking for service providers that can deliver this mobile integration. I think it will become more and more critical to strategy. I think what's really important is to validate that the service providers can deliver the technology with scale, with high quality, with a high level of support. That's another element here. You're clearly trusting someone else to run your enterprise network. Make sure that trust is warranted, and that you feel comfortable that the operator can in fact deliver a high quality service.
Q: The flip side of that is what are the things they should watch out for when they're dealing with a service provider on hosted UC?
A: I think that you want to make sure you really have a solution that's open, expandable, that you can really mix and match components. I think competitively you have lots of vendor lock-in, which ultimately goes against the whole concept of moving unified communications into the cloud. As an enterprise you want to be able to use the max devices. You want to be able to pick phones. You want to be able to pick clients. You want to be able to integrate with your technologies. You maybe will want to substitute out a particular element of the UC stack for something you think is better or fits better in your environment. You want to be able to have that flexibility in these solutions. Unfortunately, the unified communications field talks a lot about openness and interoperability, but everybody seems to be selling closed solutions with very little openness.
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