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I missed watching the Giants win the World Series, but at Aastra’s industry analyst conference in Dallas, I had an opportunity to meet with company execs, customers, and business partners, and hear about Aastra’s direction and roadmap. The main themes were – surprise, surprise – open, open, and open.
One thing that came across is that Aastra is very much a global company, with multiple product lines from its various acquisitions and a varying range of product offerings based on region. Aastra has presence in many countries – more than most – and based on its multiple acquisitions, it has several products and services available in some regions but not in others. For example, the Aastra 5000 is strong in certain regions such as France and Germany, but the MX-One is the primary product for other regions. Another example is Aastra’s Telephony Web Portal (TWP), which is essentially a web-based unified communications application, providing most, if not all, of the capabilities that Microsoft OCS provides. It’s a very impressive product, offering a full range of UC capabilities, but in a web-based environment so Mac users and others can access it. When I asked why I hadn’t heard about this product before, I was told that the product is only sold in certain regions, and not in North America, which is a shame. Because of its presence in so many countries and regions, all with different needs, it’s difficult for Aastra to provide products that serve all of its markets, and the company is working to consolidate its product line into fewer, but more global, offerings.
We also heard about some of Aastra’s recent wins around the globe, including many deals that displaced competitive products. The company claims that these and other successes are based on several factors, including: investment protection for existing customers and partners, access to advanced telephony/unified communications solutions with competitive TCO, local expertise in the various countries, and flexibility.
Aastra is definitely more of an R&D company than a marketing company, and the company’s R&D direction is based on several trends, according to Pierre-Alexandre Fuhrmann, Joint Chief of Aastra’s strategic planning committee:
Fuhrmann noted that the portfolio evolution will be based on open standards, the perception of “video as the main driver for companies to move to UC,” mobility solutions as a key to the future success of UC, and SaaS.
One of Aastra’s strengths is its comprehensive endpoint device portfolio, with SIP, SIP-DECT, and Microsoft Lync devices (otherwise known as phones), which are optimized to work with the upcoming Microsoft Lync (the new OCS).
It was a very informative conference and I better understand Aastra’s product direction, although I would have liked to have heard more about Aastra’s marketing approach and programs, as well as information on its professional services offerings. It’s clear that the company needs to step up its marketing efforts in North America and increase its brand recognition, which is strong in Europe and other regions. The openness story is a good one, especially around its endpoint devices, as well as OCS and Sametime integration. But the company needs to toot its horn a bit more. One slide had a small bullet point about IBM Sametime, and when I asked whether Aastra had any customers integrating with Sametime, I was surprised to hear that they have done quite a few customer implementations.
Much of what we heard was about Aastra’s roadmap and is under NDA, so I can’t share too much. Stay tuned for announcements around video, collaboration, and SaaS.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?