Dell Launching Managed VoIP Services?

Michael Dell is making another managed services move, this time in the voice-over-IP space. Dell has quietly inked a partnership with an open source voice-over-IP company. The deal potentially pushes Dell into several new markets, including managed voice services and unified communications. The move may also complement Dell's recent MSP acquisitions (Silverback Technologies and Everdream). Here's the inside scoop.

First, let's start with the facts: Dell is partnering with Fonality, maker of an increasingly popular VoIP system for small businesses. Fonality's technology is based on Asterisk, a wildly popular open source platform that has a strong following among IP telephony developers.

Dell is positioning Fonality's technology for small businesses with 5 to 125 users. Now here's the really interesting part: The solution is "hybrid-hosted," meaning some of the equipment is installed within the customers' offices, and some of the equipment is delivered as a hosted service. It's unclear whether Dell, Fonality or Dell's partners will actually host the VoIP service. I've got an email and a phone call into Dell seeking comment.

Either way, one thing is clear: Dell has found a way to push deeper into three hot markets (unified communications, open source and managed services) through one business relationship with a little-known company.

Not that Fonality should be underestimated. The company has been growing 10 percent per month on average and achieved profitability in 2006, according to Fonality’s Web site. And early Fonality investors include Intel Capital.

Now, Dell is making a bet on Fonality as well.

TAGS: Technology
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