The Future for Comms Platforms

3 min read Telephony
Comms Business Magazine talks to Trefor Davies, CTO of NewNet Wholesale about his views and opinions on the future of comms platforms.

With a declining sales volume for the last five years the traditional PBX is under increasing pressure as the de facto solution for a voice communications platform. Hosted telephony is making inroads in to the market but not necessarily having it all its own way as Comms Business Magazine reports.

Comms Business Magazine: Will any one model or format for telephony really prevail?

Trefor Davies (TD): The whole UC market is in a state of slow evolution. In the first instance telephony is one of the most mission critical services used by a business. Companies are therefore not going to take risks. In one sense moving from in premises UC to hosted was seen as a risk. Originally the undoubted benefits of moving to a hosted solution is what has overcome any perceived risk element in stimulating the market. Add improved and lower cost comms into the mix and the barriers to moving to hosted solutions are tumbling. Notwithstanding that the hosted solutions of choice are not themselves necessarily always the multi-tenanted carrier solutions. Customers can opt to run a traditional tin based platform in a hosted virtual environment so it is difficult to know how much of the market is actually hosted versus in premises.

Large scale consumer platforms have also been visible in the rear view mirror of the Comms Business channel for years. Skype is used by many small businesses and they must surely also be looking at Google. Google Apps has some very high profile wins in the corporate market.

Then we have WebRTC coming along on the rails. Is WebRTC “just another over the top service”? There are lots of them around now. Even the mobile players are moving into the space. WebRTC promises to voice enable communities of interest. Users of a particular website or forum could for example easily talk to each other using voice instead of via comment threads. Obviously this is no different to users of Google, MSN or Skype but WebRTC will make the facility available to every website owner, and thus every business, without the need for a massive investment in infrastructure. In theory different communities of interest will also be able to federate with each other. WebRTC could add yet another dimension to the VoIP market.

So the answer to whether one model or format for telephony will prevail is clearly no. I’d say we were in for an exciting period ahead where disruption is the name of the game. The problem for the channel of course is where to put your money…

CBM: Is Microsoft Lync grabbing telephony and UC market share?

TTD: It does look very much as if Microsoft Lync is beginning to gain traction in the UC space, at least in the mid-market. Take up is still predominantly based on presence & IM but people are slowly making move to Lync voice. Considering the amount of effort Microsoft appears to be throwing at it you would be a pretty confident in your own skin not to be making some kind of side bet on Lync voice.

CBM: Can we look forward to a hybrid PBX solutions model where every customer application is objectively assessed on its merit for the best solution that fits the user?

TD: This is in reality what happens today. NewNet has a mix of UC building blocks to work with including Avaya, Mitel, IPCortex and its own hosted and SIP Trunks solutions based on the Genband carrier grade 2 platform. We tend to therefore look at an individual customer need and tailor a solution accordingly. The business partner himself may well have the accreditations for selling a specific PBX but NewNet will be able to supply all the comms surrounding that PBX as well as any support necessary to win the business.

For example there is a move towards hosting the PBX on Virtual Machines at a remote data centre, cloud hosting if you like. There are some significant benefits to doing this. Firstly you can consolidate your businesses’ licenses in a central pool in a data centre. Historically people buy licenses for individual bits of tin. Reallocating these license is nigh on impossible if, for example, you are moving people around the business. Consolidating licenses centrally results in fewer licenses required overall and removes the headache of mobile staff.

Then there’s the DR aspect of centralised hosting. Running two identical platforms is expensive. When the platform runs in a central virtualised environment the overall server cost comes down considerably. Survivable gateways add a hybrid element to this type of solution but kicking in if connectivity to the dc is lost.

Finally with a hosted solution the customer benefits from standardisation of all its licenses. For example the Paris office may run different types of licenses to the London office. The user experience is therefore going to be different. Centrally consolidating the license pool results in a smoother intra company UC experience.

At the end of the day there isn’t one right answer but resellers need a wholesale partner with the flexibility to provide all the missing tools for the job including a virtualized data centre environment, high quality connectivity, SIP Trunks and mobile solutions.