Under Starters Orders

Under Starters Orders

Sanjay Patel of Microsoft

With a days to go before Sandown Park opens its doors for the biggest Convergence Summit ever, Comms Business Magazine speaks to Microsoft about their debut at the show and profiles speakers at the exclusive Summit Seminar Program.

Such is the belief at Microsoft that they are set to make a huge impact on the communications market that Sanjay Patel, their Unified Communications Group Solutions Sales & Partner Manager told us that the company is likely to be responsible for 300,000 new jobs being created around their ecosystem in Europe alone in the coming year.

Patel, who will be speaking at the Convergence Summit seminar program at

Sandown Park on both days of the exhibition (10/11th October), told Comms Business Magazine that his company is already awash with applications from resellers wanting to become accredited for their Live Communications Server products and that he expected this tide to keep rising in the next 12 months as the release of Office Communications Server 2007 approaches.

“You can’t separate communications from collaboration and delegates to the Convergence Summit will hear what Microsoft is up to in unified communications and why this is important to the channel. At the same time I will be detailing where the channel opportunity lies for resellers as well as touching upon our strategy.”

Interestingly Patel told us that Microsoft is very keen to talk to tier two and three resellers about becoming involved in the programme.


A year ago today…

This time last year we were looking at an invasion of hosted telephony players about to set their stall-out at the 2005 Summit. We caught up with one of those companies, Hipcom, and spoke to their Channel Manager Tim Alexander.

“It has become evident over the last six months that there is now a huge demand for outsourced telephony services – and that this is being driven largely by technologically-aware end-users. The demand for outsourced business services is at an all-time high, with customers choosing to let highly-skilled professionals look after the technology, whilst corporate users and managers concentrate on the core business. First it was LAN and WAN, then it was security and now outsourcing telephony is most definitely the next wave.

“Over the last year the Hosted IP Telephony market has been establishing itself and there have been a large number of new service providers entering the space. However, resellers who were looking to partner with a wholesale provider understood that there was no rush and also no reason to take any risks – and as such they have taken time to evaluate the market.

“This has been possible because, whilst end-users have started to talk about it, they have only really started to implement these types of solutions more recently. Until hosted VoIP providers could offer a service that was reliable, feature-rich and with outstanding quality, the end-user was never even going to contemplate such a service. And this is where Hipcom come in, as we offer a flexible approach which works for the reseller community, but which is also of the same quality that end-users have been experiencing for the last 15 years.”

Likewise Simon Slater Thomas, CEO at first time exhibitor Reality Telecom believes the market has matured since last year’s Summit with lower-cost, higher-quality, broadband making VoIP much more affordable.

“The excitement now surrounding VoIP is reminiscent of the early days of mobile, and those who get it right have much to gain. Our Call Navigator has a five-year track record in traditional and IP technology. Since Call Navigator works alongside both traditional and IP PBX technologies, it allows traditional PBX vendors to ease what can be a difficult transition into the IP world.”

Richard Bligh, Marketing Director of Gamma views the Convergence Summit as another opportunity to help channel partners find ways to use IP telephony to meet the needs of their SME end-users.

“We will be offering demonstrations of some of our IP solutions on the stand, and delegates will be able to speak to our team about both our hosted services such as FeaturePlus and the soon-to-be-launched Communicator, as well as our SIP trunking service, IPDirectConnect. Our emphasis will be on highlighting real life applications and examples where customers are improving productivity and lowering their communication costs by adopting Gamma’s IP Telephony solutions.

“Gamma will be the first carrier in the UK to replace our TDMs with soft switches, to create a UK-wide IP-based network. We feel this is vital in allowing us to provide leading edge services to our channel partners, giving them the best opportunity to adopt converged IP Telephony solutions and adapt them to help them succeed in an ever-changing market-place.”


Network Challenges

“With the size of systems and clients we focus on, we see existing data networks as being one of the main challenges of convergence” commented Paul Valentine, Sales Director of Gloucestershire-based reseller PSU IT Voice and Data.

“I don’t say this lightly, as we are probably one of the best placed resellers for this technology, having implemented and supported data networks for the past 20 years. What I mean is that in a ‘greenfield’ installation one is in the invidious position of being fully conversant with the demands placed on a network by different applications at different nodes. We are fully aware of the demands that voice as an application will place on that infrastructure and hence can successfully deploy a converged solution on a corporate IP network with a minimum investment of time and resources.

“In the real world, ‘greenfield’ installations are few and far between and however professional your sales people are, they cannot be expected to second guess network traffic across the WAN. Gradual expansion of the WAN, as compared to a planned rollout, frequently results in a broad mix of equipment supporting remote branches and remote/home workers. If you then compound this with the vagaries of the Internet and interconnect QOS issues between different broadband providers you will start to see how blind you may actually be. To put it another way, you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first.

“Some chose a trial and error approach by rolling out pilot schemes, but it can be

Paul Valentine, Sales Director of PSU IT Voice and Data.

costly in time, resources and reputation. Better to adopt the informed approach but to do that you need the right tools for the job.

“To be certain of a successful deployment and hence a satisfied customer, you must be certain that the network has sufficient bandwidth to deliver high-quality voice calls without adversely affecting their existing data applications. You need to know in advance how many voice calls their current network can safely support and pinpoint where their network needs improvement, and most importantly you need to be certain that your engineer’s actions cannot expose your customer’s network to abuse by malware or hackers. This is the basis of the informed approach.

“To allow us to adopt this approach, we have recently set up a dedicated Convergence Department headed up by Darren Ross which is responsible for ensuring that whenever we rollout a converged solution we have prior visibility of any issues that need to be addressed. We’ve invested heavily in commercial Network Assessment Software and training for this team of engineers and fully believe that it is money well spent. This team now carries out pre-deployment network assessments not just for our Regional Business Managers, but also for existing partners and UK communication companies.

“Some may see this as alliteration of the 7Ps, but after 20 years we’re understandably adverse to stealing defeat from the jaws of victory.”


Sound & Vision

In the last 12 months Polycom has taken great strides to make their range of IP handsets a standard for channel players looking to implement IP and SIP end point applications but there’s a lot more to the company these days than this.

Pat Finlayson, Product Marketing, Polycom’s Voice Division. “Our attendance at the Convergence Summit gives Polycom the opportunity to generate awareness within the reseller community of the business opportunities surrounding our unified collaborative communications and range of VoIP solutions. The integration of voice and video conferencing with VoIP, instant messaging and presence solutions, as well as data sharing and web collaboration opens up a tremendous business opportunity for IP networking and VoIP resellers, in addition to our Polycom VoIP handsets. We aim to demonstrate that Polycom delivers a total integrated solution not just best of breed products.”


Different Approach

Lesley Hansen, Marketing Director at TeleWare who will again be exhibiting at the Convergence Summit says her company offers a unique software approach to the problem of a converged communications infrastructure which enables organisations to continue to use existing equipment that is based on circuit-switched networks whilst migrating to IP and simultaneously gaining the benefits that converged applications bring, such as personal numbering and virtual team working.

“Today most organisations have completed, or are in the process of, a migration to a converged infrastructure. TeleWare estimate that only 40% of the benefits of convergence are provided by infrastructure cost savings, the further 60% of potential benefits is provided by the use of converged applications providing increased business efficiency and the ability to accommodate changing work styles.”

Lesley Hansen of TeleWare

Convergence Summit Speaker Program

Once again Comms Business Magazine has obtained the best speakers from companies with the highest profiles in the business for our seminar program. Added to this we have the familiar ‘Pitch’ sessions which are free to attend and offer vendors and distributors the opportunity to hold a 45-minute reseller conference in a closed seminar environment to ‘pitch’ competitive product differentiators, a new product launch or incentive scheme, or to simply educate the channel on the latest product innovations within the convergence market.

This month we would like to introduce you to some of our speakers starting with Sanjay Patel, Microsoft’s EMEA Business Development Manager for their Unified Communications Group.


Sanjay Patel

Sanjay works in business development for Microsoft Unified Communications Group in EMEA. He recently led the Live Communications Server business in the UK for Finance, Telco and Media sectors.

Sanjay has been at Microsoft five years and before moving to the Unified Communications group, he worked in the Microsoft Communications Sector with key operators.

Prior to joining the company Sanjay was with start up Ask Jeeves business in the UK and had previously spent eight years at IBM in a variety of roles in their UK & EMEA Banking group focussed on Retail Banking and e-business solutions. He holds a Masters degree from Trinity College, Cambridge.


Steve Frost – Market Manager – Unified Communications, Cisco Systems UK & Ireland

Steve Frost is the Market Manager at Cisco responsible for developing the UK and Ireland Advanced Technology strategy for Unified Communication and Collaboration solutions. Frost joined the company in 1996 and has more than 20 years’ experience in the Communications industry.

During his career, Steve held a technical consulting position at Timeplex, and architected a number of major voice/data networks during the first phase of network convergence over TDM. He also spent several years as a consultant at Cabletron, designing some of the first structured multi-protocol Local Area Networks.

When he joined Cisco in 1996 in a Pre-Sales role, he supported Systems Integrators during the very first Voice over IP, and IP Telephony implementations in the UK. Recently Steve has worked with Cisco’s Ecosystem partners to develop complete IP-based solutions for Content Delivery, Video Surveillance, and Video Communications.


Lesley Hansen, Group Marketing Director, TeleWare Plc

Lesley Hansen joined TeleWare Plc in September 2004 to provide a strategic focus across the TeleWare Group and to deliver the sales tools and flow of information needed to drive the sales growth planned and to assist in the extension of the TeleWare market reach. Prior to joining TeleWare Lesley was a founding director of Net to Net Technologies Ltd in February 2000, launching this US-based DSL vendor into the European market.

Lesley also spent four years with Nortel Networks joining the company through the acquisition of Micom Communications as Director of International Marketing. In this role Lesley launched the industry’s first VoIP gateway product and was responsible for the International product marketing strategy


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