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Earlier this month on May 9, 2012, Mitel Corporation announced a new cloud-based product, Mitel AnyWare Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), their new approach for deploying Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS). Mitel was one of the early providers of virtualized solutions with partner VMWare, and now extends that reach leveraging AnyWare IaaS under Mitel’s “Freedom Architecture.” Mitel states this will give enterprises the option to host Mitel’s virtualized UCC software in a virtual private data center provided by Mitel NetSolutions, the company’s service provider division.
From my perspective, Mitel is targeting AnyWare IaaS at organizations looking to implement virtualized voice, unified communications and collaboration without the capital necessary to deploy these virtual applications in their own data center. Mitel has stated that their model can be private or hybrid cloud models. Both hybrid and private cloud models being offered will provide customers with choices.
In my opinion, Mitel’s message ties well with the classic message among all of the cloud-based offerings: “Mitel’s solution aims to streamline operations and reduce overall infrastructure costs, offloading in-house resources while still delivering collaboration and communication resources to the entire organization.”
Although too early to tell, in my opinion the Mitel AnyWare IaaS offer will likely offer organizations:
Here, though, is what is unclear about the announcement:
Mitel’s announcement carries a BIG benefit, that is, Mitel has been a long term partner with VMWare and Mitel states that the AnyWare solution is VMWare-ready, and can connect into the enterprise’s virtualized infrastructure, a key design component desired by many organizations we consult for. Not all cloud providers are VM-ware ready, and virtualization is a strategic part of the cloud story. Also, it is interesting to note that Mitel is SAS-70 certified and compliant in the Data Center environment, assuring an organization that Mitel will disclose its control activities and processes to its customers. Lastly, the announcement states that organizations will be able to utilize Mitel’s comprehensive suite of UC applications, including truly virtualized voice and Mitel’s UCC applications which facilitates centralized UCaaS deployments. Most of our clients are actively seeking a full UC suite with replacement systems, and it looks like Mitel is ready to deliver on such.
Mind you, though, the cloud is in the early adopter stage of the market, and I recommend taking a close look at what Mitel has to offer: SLAs, contract requirements and term, pricing components (both purchase and rental), distribution (and qualifications for such) through the channel, and cloud design and redundancy aspects before making any commitments to this new architecture.
This is a significant announcement for Mitel, and I will be closely following Mitel and their cloud-based AnyWare IaaS offering as it begins deployment. Some closing thoughts:
In summary, I applaud Mitel for entering into the cloud arena. To Mitel: please join the others that have already entered, the water is warm and it’s a proven model, historically having roots from the Centrex arena and managed service models (premise based) that have also been around for a while. In one sense, this is not a new model. But what makes the model unique is that this financial model is different (some CAPEX, some OPEX), an inability to change providers readily, and the enterprise CIO trusting IP Telephony and UC to an outside vendor they have little-to-no control over.
Some key questions to ask include: what is the channel distribution like, what is the extent of the UC suite being offered to the enterprise, what are the levels of redundancy being offered to support a four-to-five nines model, who are the carrier partners, and what are the pricing and terms associated with the offer? There are of course, a number of other questions and points to consider when looking at a cloud-based model.
So let’s see where Mitel heads with this. This could be for Mitel a very strategic move, and an opportunity that would facilitate and alleviate some of the financial burden they have experienced in the not-so-distant past.
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