Siemens Communications is looking to the cloud as the means for expanding its North America footprint. Earlier this week it announced a partnership with Ingram Micro Services to deliver its OpenScape unified communications platform as a cloud-based service through the channel.
Siemens Communications, a marginal yet growing communications company in the North America market, differentiated itself in recent years by decoupling its telephony controller and unified communications software from the underlying hardware. This gave partners and end users the flexibility of deploying Siemens on whatever device they saw fit. This was particularly important when Nokia imploded and end users scrambled to find alternative solutions without reinvesting in hardware.
While the Siemens strategy has produced impressive gains, overall adoption of unified communications is steady but slow. The main reasons, particularly in the mid-market, are complexity and expense. At the same time, demand of hosted VoIP and telephony services is skyrocketing. According to the Cloud & Technology Transformation Alliance, hosted VoIP is the second most popular cloud service offered by the channel.
By offering OpenScape as a service through Ingram, Siemens is likely looking to make unified communications – the bundling of telephony, communications management, collaboration, instant messaging and social contact – more palatable and affordable to target customers.
“OpenScape Cloud is a service that dovetails with many channel partners’ existing IT portfolio, offering great up-selling opportunities and margin potential,” says Andy Howard, vice president of partner collaboration at Siemens Communications, in a statement.
Establishing unified communications as a source of recurring revenue is an interesting proposition, as many solution providers are trying to figure out how to offer advance services and make a reasonable profit in the process. Siemens and Ingram are offering solution providers more than just margins on the monthly recurring revenue, but also the ability to bundle professional and after-market services that enhance the underlying service value.
“This innovative, cloud-based service enables resellers and MSPs to provide customers a pay-as-you-go model that virtually eliminates the objection of capital budgets. Plus, channel partners can incorporate calling plans and additional services, even white label the product under their own brand, to create a long-term services offering that can be tailored to fit nearly any size organization,” Howard said.
Siemens is among the field of unified communications vendors trying to ply the cloud to gain traction in the channel and end-user markets. Cisco, Microsoft, Avaya, Polycom and others have offerings or designs for bringing unified communications to the cloud or virtualized environments.
Expense and complexity are just two of the obstacles standing in the way of unified communications; more often it’s a definable need that prevents adoption. Businesses like the idea of unified communications, but often see many of the features as overkill compared to conventional telephony services. That will likely change as these offerings become more affordable, easier to manage and easier to use.
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