Melding Managed Services With Unified Communications

Long View Systems, an MSPmentor 100 company, is the latest managed service provider to push aggressively into the unified communications market. And I expect plenty of MSPs to follow Long View's lead -- especially as nimble UC start-ups like Unison Technologies counter entrenched giants like Cisco Systems and Microsoft.

Long View, based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is now certified on Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Release 2. And the company is blending its unified communications expertise with SharePoint and Exchange Server initiatives.

Long View isn't alone. Nearly 30 percent of MSPmentor 100 survey participants now offer some form of unified communications to their customers. I expect that figure to climb rapidly as Microsoft, Cisco and even the open source world continue to ramp up their unified communication efforts.

Sometime this week, Unison Technologies is expected to launch a free, closed-source unified communications system on Canonical's Ubuntu Server Edition (an open source Linux distribution). Eager Unison adopters include Intermedia, a New York-based MSP that originally built its business around hosted Exchange services. Unison is now reaching out to additional MSPs for potential hosting relationships.

I'm not endorsing any particular unified communications product -- but the convergence of unified communications with managed services is undeniable.

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