View from the Solution Integrator: House of Lync and Sonus
When I speak with enterprise customers and resellers about unified communications, two of the biggest issues and challenges mentioned are interoperability and security. Most organizations, especially those that have gone through mergers and acquisitions, have multiple PBXs and switches that need to be integrated together, and demand a safe and secure environment for their business communications. One solution to both of these issues is the use of Session Border Controllers (SBCs), which establish trusted connections at both ends of the IP session, as well as authenticated identity.
One of the key SBC vendors that’s been gaining a great deal of momentum recently is Sonus Networks. While better known for delivering carrier grade solutions to the service provider market, since its acquisition of NET in 2012 Sonus has been actively carving out its place in the enterprise SBC world.
I always enjoy hearing from the Solution Integrators – the folks that do the actual UC deployments – to get their perspectives on the various vendors and products that they deal with. I had the opportunity to speak with one of Sonus’ key reseller partners, Carol Spowart, CEO of House of Lync (a regular at the UCStrategies UC Summit).
Solution integrators like House of Lync are responsible for working with various parts of the Microsoft Lync ecosystem to provide a total solution for customers. According to Spowart, “Selling Lync isn’t easy and doesn't come with a handbook,” noting that, “For most customers, it’s their first time deploying Lync and we have to make it simple for them so they don't get overwhelmed.” She added, “The vendors we bring in have to be committed to the product line, and we have to be confident that who we represent is in the market for the long term and made the investment in Lync.”
Most enterprises have a mix of switches and don't have one brand across the organization. This is especially true as companies transition to Lync and opt to keep their legacy PBX before moving to a full PBX replacement. According to Spowart, “Sonus works across multiple PBXs, so you don't have to remove what the customer already has in place. If customer wants to use Lync for IM and presence and continue to use their legacy voice system, the Sonus SBC can work between the Lync and the various PBXs.” This is in part due to Sonus’ policy that allows centralized dial plan management. In my discussions with Sonus, they point out that this is a unique attribute that helps set them apart. Many companies opt for a staged migration and hybrid approach initially. “Because Sonus’ products are modular, we can start with a hybrid solution as the customer phases out their PBX, without having to replace the gateways and SBCs, making it easier and more cost effective for customers.”
When asked why Sonus is their preferred SBC vendor, Spowart noted, “Sonus’ support is unprecedented. Their support team is available 24/7 and is very responsive.” She added, “Sonus is a ‘carefree vendor’ - we know what we’re getting, when we’re getting it. Last year a rep forgot to order the gateways for a large Lync order with over 1000 users, and Sonus worked all weekend to deliver the gateways so that they shipped over the weekend and arrived on Monday.” She also pointed out that “There’s a serious commitment from their CEO on down regarding Lync and partnering with Lync resellers. Their commitment is strong, and in the world of Lync that’s a big asset.”
The House of Lync sales team has to keep track of servers, storage, headsets, gateways, and other elements of a Lync solution. Spowart states, “With Lync, you have multiple places to go to put solutions together. Ordering needs to be simplified or it slows down the process. Sonus’ portal simplifies product ordering and processing, and their simple ordering process makes my admin team happy.”
Scalability is also important, and some of Sonus’ competitors have been touting the expanded capacities of their SBCs. Sonus notes that not only can it scale to thousands of users and up to 150,000 sessions, but it can also scale down to low-density deployments with just 25 sessions. House of Lync has Sonus products in some small deployments with 50-100 users, as well as in larger companies with thousands of users. According to Spowart, “Sonus is pressing the carrier grade performance and reliability attributes down to the enterprise space, which clients love.”
The enterprise SBC market today is crowded with numerous vendor offerings, and while gaining market presence, Sonus is battling some big names with larger installed bases, By focusing on support, scalability, and reliability, the company hopes to become the go-to SBC vendor for Lync and other UC deployments. It won’t be an easy job, but happy partners like House of Lync believe it can be done.
This paper is sponsored by Sonus.