When it comes to hosted communications I have heard it all. I really have. After all, as you may recall I launched a magazine called Communications ASP years ago – just before the bubble burst in fact.. I was always a believer in hosting. But as is sometimes the case, we were a bit early in the market and the VCs all pulled funding from the hosted companies we used to call ASPs. Then is often the case, everyone seems to forget about a market for a number of years and then it becomes hot once again. This has happened more than once in the VoIP market as well.
So when I heard NEC has something new in hosting called Managed IP Telephony or MIPT they wanted to share with me I imagined being bored. After all, hosting is hosting. Well, it seems even though NEC is not the first company to offer hosting they are doing it in a way that is different and novel enough to make you consider hosting even if hosting isn’t for you.
You see, in many cases hosting means losing control and furthermore means you can’t customize your PBX to meet your needs. So NEC decided to take the best of the hosted world and the best of the customer premise equipment or CPE world and blend them together.
Now when I say “blend” I am not talking about the blending Joe Pesci (audio) was doing in the movie, My Cousin Vinny, I mean they have really blended the best of both worlds. The way this is done is simple. Unlike a traditional hosted provider who typically hosts everything from the cloud and provides phones or gateways, NEC actually provides the hardware for you. So it is really like a lease but not really.
You see the company will take care of the patches and keeping the system up and running but here is the interesting part. After your hosted term which could be a period of 3, 4 or 5 years, you are able to get new equipment if you choose to continue to host with NEC.
This gives some intriguing options such as the ability to use the NEC APIs to build new applications or to go to third party companies for their applications. You also have the security and satisfaction of knowing the equipment is in your office – if of course this is important to you.
NEC will also remotely monitor your IP communications network and can for an added fee monitor your entire network and help with security. There are lots of value adds the company can provide in fact.
Oh and here is the weird thing. They can also provide you with Cisco equipment if you like as they are already doing this as part of an agreement they have with the hosted offering from Verizon Business.
Another interesting ideas is that you can add 10% more seats through the term of your lease for no added cost. Generally NEC thinks most companies won’t grow more than this amount in a few years.
In an example the company uses, a 500 station install over five years would cost about $25 per station per month and that would include a SV700 – 2xPRI with conference bridge capability.
So just when I thought I had heard it all, there you go… I have heard something new. In my opinion this is an interesting offering from NEC and the only downside is how people may confuse it with leasing. But other than that it makes a good deal of sense for people who want the lower initial expenditures and other benefits that come with hosting while enjoying the benefits of keeping the communications equipment in their offices.