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June 12, 2014

Vodafone shows off latest unified communications portfolio

Standardisation is key for mobile giant.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

Vodafone says standardisation is key to the success of its latest suite of cloud-based unified communication services, it claims integrates fixed and mobile communications through a single platform.

The UK telecommunications company demonstrated its One Net Express, One Net Business, One Net Collaboration and One Net Enterprise systems at a round table discussion at the British Museum, claiming it would simplify work life from small to large businesses and end users.

The cloud-based platforms combine Vodafone’s mobile infrastructure and network controller with Microsoft’s Lync, Office 365 and Sharepoint applications and Cisco’s UC services.

Scott Petty, enterprise products and services technology director, said: "It allows us to deliver all the traditional features you would find in PBS but from our Vodafone cloud across any number of handsets.

"When a mobile phone and a fixed phone will ring, I’ll start the call on my fixed phone and if I want to leave the office, I can just transfer that straight to my mobile phone, walk out of the office and continue that call.

"When my boss calls, I can set up a rule that says I want that call to come through to my mobile. If it’s an unknown number, just send it through to my fixed phone.

"I’m integrated in way that a normal on-premise PBS would be run but I can do that inside the Vodafone network."

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He added that Vodafone is the only operator in the world that has IMS integration with Cisco.

"That allows us to integrate our cloud telephony platform with Cisco’s call manager and contact centre platforms," he explained.

"What does that enable? Large enterprises start to integrate the mobile network tightly into their Cisco’s solution that work across mobile phones, contact centre services…really creating a unique integrated set of services."

One of the biggest challenges facing the UC market is standardisation, according to Petty.

"If you think about the unified communications market, it’s not particularly standardised. Each bit comes up with its own manipulation of standards, so integrating those in consistent ways is a challenge," he said.

"The second challenge for particularly large customers is migrating from on-premise technology to cloud technology and what that journey means for them and IT departments around installing physical equipments in their sites. They see cloud as an evolution and they’re not sure how to take those steps.

"As they move unified communications to the cloud, we’ve had to provide various consulting and professional services to help them make that change."

Vodafone, which now has 3.5 million One Net users worldwide, said it is also looking to partner with Google apps, Huawei and Genesis and expand to emerging markets.

"We’ll continue to look at our geographic expansion and will continue to investigate each and every market," said Vodafone’s product management director Jeni Mundy.

She declined to comment on the timescale.


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