Recently Microsoft and Nortel expanded
their efforts to bring unified communications to the world. In this case, they have tackled the tough job of bringing unified communications to service providers who will in turn be able to bring UC to small and medium businesses. This collaboration makes a lot of sense as I am seeing a tremendous amount of growth and interest in the hosted communications space.
Serving up UC backed by Nortel and Microsoft could be a relatively easy sell but there's a chance that service providers will brand the service exclusively as their own. Having these 2 companies working with service providers will be a great benefit to the entire market. The SMB space will likely benefit most.
It should also be pointed out that there are many companies with a number of branch offices and a hosted solution such as this fits in perfectly in such an environment. In fact a Fortune 500 company can mix and match hosted and premise-based solutions as needed to ensure they have the most advantageous solution.
This announcement is a win for the SMB space, service providers, Microsoft and Nortel. Losers here would be some of the PBX vendors. However, it is possible that the amount of money spent on unified communications will be greater then that spent on PBX purchases today, and subsequently, even if Microsoft and Nortel carve out a larger share of the communications market for themselves, the whole pie will be much bigger than it was before.
Of course giving service providers new technology is a fraction of the battle. The rest hinges on the ability of the service provider to actually sell new products and services. It is unknown how successful these companies will be in doing so.
I would imagine based on recent momentum that cable companies will make the most use of hosted UC. We may also see some pure play VoIP providers get in the game.
So as the industry gets revved up for a wave of UC solutions, it looks like they not only have CPE competition but hosted as well. Again, this is a win for the customers.