It's time for MSPmentor to shift gears and spend a bit more time covering the emerging world of managed unified communications. There, big service providers such as Verizon are managing Cisco-oriented solutions for large enterprises.
I spoke with Laurie Shook (pictured), portfolio leader for managed unified communications at Verizon Business, to get a better feel for Verizon's momentum and managed services partnership with Cisco. Here's a recap of our conversation, and some key takeaways for smaller MSPs.
According to Shook, roughly 4,200 businesses depend on Verizon managed services.
Next up, Verizon is seeking to promote managed unified communication services. Those services leverage Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager and Cisco Unified Contact Center. The suite of Cisco tools integrates voice over IP (VoIP), instant messaging, conferencing and contact center applications.
Cisco and Verizon jointly announced the managed unified communications effort in October 2008. In a typical scenario, the UC systems are deployed on-premise at the customer site -- and then managed from afar by Verizon.
Maximum ImpactVerizon uses its own IMPACT platform to remotely monitor and manage the UC systems. IMPACT (short for Integrated Management Platform for Advanced Communications Technologies), cost Verizon $150 million to develop. “We use IMPACT for everything from managing a customer’s Cisco WAN routers to their IP PBXes."
So, when will customers shift their unified communications gear from on-premise to in the cloud? Shook doesn't see that happening very soon in large enterprises. Cloud computing, she notes, requires a vanilla solution that works for the vast majority of customers.
On the flip side, service providers can highly customize and optimize on-premise unified communications systems for enterprise customers.
Recapping our conversation, I was surprised to hear that Verizon Business has 4,200 managed services customers.
But while Verizon Business has momentum with large enterprises, I think big service providers will face challenges as they try to offer UC and other services to very small businesses -- where personal relationship with VARs and regional MSPs remain critical.
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