Management System

Amazing Savings with a Managed IP Phone System

Management System

In a recent No Jitter blog entitled Managing IP Phones Goes Way Beyond Provisioning, I pointed out how much more powerful a managed IP Phone system is than simple provisioning and that this power and flexibility can bring considerable cost savings to an IT department. This wasn’t just marketing talk. In this blog, I want to tangibly demonstrate how this savings is achieved and what kind of numbers we are talking about.

To do this, I want to take a real-world example of a large enterprise that has deployed 20,000 IP phones amongst its employees. There are several levels to the cost savings, but it starts with the basic element of a managed IP phone solution saving countless help desk hours by providing IT the ability to remotely detect, correct and configure IP phones rather than the need to speak with the user and figure out the problem. If the average time per help desk call to figure out the problem without the managed system is conservatively 15 minutes, with the managed system, that time is cut down to just several minutes – we’ll go with 3. If the cost of a help desk worker is $50 an hour, then the savings would be reflected in the amount of help desk calls multiplied by the savings in time between 3 and 15 minutes.

Below, we look at a three-year model in which the amount of help desk calls will no doubt decrease over time as the system is used. Again, with a conservative estimate, if in the first year we can expect at least 20% of the 20,000 IP Phone users to have a single help desk call, going down to 10% in year two and 5% in year three, the savings can reach $70,000 over the three-year period. In reality, the amount of help desk calls could be as much as double ($140,000), the savings increasing accordingly.

IP Phone TCO

But that’s only part of the savings story. The IP Phone Manager allows for zero-touch customized configuration for multisite deployments. Such customization without a central management tool would require a pre-staging service from an integrator, estimated to be around $5-$10 per phone. Thus in the case of a 20,000 phone rollout, that could mean an additional $100-200K in savings.

And finally, AudioCodes IP Phones support SILK, the native Skype for Business vocoder. This vocoder delivers the best end-to-end voice quality experience available, further reducing the load on the help desk by eliminating call quality complaints which are possible in VoIP networks. But beyond the user experience and business productivity enhancement, the SILK vocoder consumes as much as 50% less bandwidth as compared to other IP Phones vocoders. This directly translates into the ability to save on remote branch MPLS access capacity and costs. In some cases, where dedicated bandwidth is allocated for voice traffic, this can lead to 50% less bandwidth consumption and MPLS costs.

In sum, the ability to manage IP phones with a system such as the AudioCodes IP Phone Manager, can lead to significant savings for a company.

AudioCodes IP Phone Manager Express is a freely downloadable Windows application that enables you to manage up to 500 AudioCodes IP phones efficiently from a single location.

The AudioCodes One Voice Operation Center IP Phone Manager, can support higher capacities.

Migrating to Skype for Business Cloud PBX Microsoft Ovum AudioCodes

Migrating to Skype for Business Cloud PBX: Play by Play Analysis

A Microsoft, Ovum and AudioCodes Joint Webinar

Microsoft Ovum AudioCodes Webinar

I have been accused of being a crazy sports fan. And I’m guilty. We may be in the midst of the Major League Baseball season, but American football is just around the corner. So when we discussed with our friends at Microsoft and Ovum doing a webinar on the adoption of Skype for Business Cloud PBX in an ESPN Sports Center-like setting, I was really excited!

Skype for Business adoption has been amazing, and we at AudioCodes, have been right in the thick of it with our One Voice for Skype for Business solution which includes among other things, CloudBond 365, Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition appliance and our 400 series IP Phones. We understand that it is going to take a sustained drive approach to ensure success, to borrow one football term, as there are migration issues at work here, particularly to the cloud. There will also be a need to change plans when the unexpected happens, as with a Quarterback’s audible play calling at the line of scrimmage to borrow another.

Likened to football plays, we aim to analyze Skype for Business adoption together with experts from Microsoft, AudioCodes and Ovum Research in what promises to be a unique-style webinar on the subject on June 14, 2016 at 11:00 am EDT.

Register Here

Here is a quick summary of what to expect:

  • The Pre-game Analysis: Skype for Business Cloud PBX industry adoption trends
  • The Sustained Drive: Living with BYOSIP, interoperability, migration and co-existence issues
  • The Audible – Adapting to Requirements: The case for a hybrid deployment and maintaining local PSTN connectivity
  • The End Around: Getting past resistance when introducing a new UC experience
  • The Two Minute Drill: Getting the deployment right calmly and quickly while under pressure
  • The Post Game Analysis: Final thoughts

Guest Commentators: 

Jamie Stark

 

 

 

Jamie Stark, Senior Product Marketing Manager
Microsoft

Brian Riggs

 

 

 

Brian Riggs, Principal Analyst
Ovum

Mor Hezi

 

 

 

Mor Hezi, VP, Business Development
AudioCodes

Register Here

 

Microsoft’s Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition

The Great Market Reaction to Microsoft’s Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition

Why I shouldn’t have been Surprised

Microsoft’s Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition

Among the responsibilities I have in my marketing position at AudioCodes, I manage campaigns. So when I was asked to run a campaign for AudioCodes’ new appliance for Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition, I treated it like I do any of the other campaign topics. Little did I know how hot the subject would become.

Rarely have I seen such a strong response to a marketing campaign. We kicked off the Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition campaign as we did with similar campaigns, with an email to our distribution list inviting folks to register for our Early Adopter Program for AudioCodes’ all-in-one Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition appliance. In just the first few days we had a flood of people signing up for the program.

I have to admit, I was surprised. But perhaps I shouldn’t have been. Skype for Business Cloud PBX is a hot subject. Our to Cloud or Not to Cloud White Paper on the introduction of Cloud PBX and how AudioCodes’ CloudBond 365 on-premises appliance for migrating users to the cloud had already topped 1,300 downloads. And now Microsoft released Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition for those Cloud PBX customers without an existing on-premises Skype for Business deployment, tapping into a large market of companies that want to take advantage of Cloud PBX while maintaining their local PSTN or connectivity to existing telephony infrastructure. Microsoft correctly identified the need for these hybrid solutions and began promoting them.

We, too, identified the potential and the need and were the first vendor to release a Cloud Connector Edition appliance. Though the Microsoft Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition code is free as a downloadable application, it needs to work with a dedicated server, a Windows 2012 Operating System and a gateway or a session border controller. Rather than have users run off in many directions to integrate all that equipment, the AudioCodes Skype for Business Cloud Connector Edition appliance simplifies things by integrating it all into a single appliance. Built on the Mediant 800 platform, the server, the gateway or SBC and the Windows 2012 OS and licenses are all included, making it simple to deploy.

Perhaps, I shouldn’t have been surprised as to the market reaction. When you think about it, people are looking for this simplicity and are anxious to integrate the Skype for Business Cloud PBX offering in its hybrid format. Well, it’s more work for us in the marketing department, but that’s what makes it fun.

For more information on AudioCodes Cloud Connector Edition appliance, click here.

To register for AudioCodes’ CCE Early Adopter Program, click here.

Skype for Business in the Cloud

Migrating to Skype for Business Cloud PBX the Smart Way

Using a Hybrid Solution Offers the Best of the On-Premises and Cloud-based Worlds

Skype for Business in the Cloud 

Moving towards Cloud PBX

The rapid rise of Microsoft’s Skype for Business is a strong incentive for enterprises to consider deploying the popular Unified Communications suite. The Company’s most recent announcements regarding their on-line version and the replacement of on-premises based PBX with Cloud PBX are also compelling in a period in which the trend to the Cloud is almost universal. However, despite the technical and business advantages of Skype for Business UC, there are many reasons why organizations might want to hold on to a legacy voice system on a temporary or permanent basis. Reasons vary and can range from the need to maintain specialized functionality such as contact centers or alarm systems to investment protection for legacy equipment, to the current functionality gap between the on-premises and cloud-based offerings and even objective availability and regulatory requirements which may mean that Skype for Business Online may not be available at various locations around the world for the foreseeable future.

Planning the Migration to the Cloud

As such, in almost any scenario in the coming years, most enterprises will likely be implementing a migration strategy from a legacy TDM or IP-based PBX system to Microsoft UC, as for all but the smallest of organizations, a full switchover is simply not practical. A smart approach would be to gradually migrate workers who can benefit from the cloud today while keeping other workers who need the full feature set or have other reasons requiring on-premises PSTN connectivity as described above, on the local Skype for Business Server in the near term.

Perhaps the most important thing an enterprise should do in this regard is to develop a voice migration strategy. Such a strategy would compose of several stages including assessing corporate requirements (typically in the headquarters), building an infrastructure that meets those requirements, migrating relevant users to the cloud and finally, expanding that migration by assessing the needs of branch offices, building a corresponding infrastructure and migrating branch users to the cloud as required. By deploying a hybrid system such as AudioCodes’ CloudBond 365, enterprises can benefit from the essential functionality required to ensure a smooth migration to Skype for Business enterprise voice. This can include:

  • Hybrid and pure SBCs which ensure full interoperability between Skype for Business and legacy systems
  • Active Directory integration which enables administrators to control how calls are routed during the migration
  • SBC provided secured SIP trunking connectivity for after the migration is completed

Migrating Smart with a Hybrid System

A deployment of Skype for Business which mixes on-line and on-premises functionality will lay the foundation for a smooth transition to the full cloud solution down the line. The best way to protect the enterprise’s current investments, ensure a full enterprise voice feature set, guarantee that all company branches around the world are serviced and comply with regulations, is with a hybrid solution which offers the best of both worlds and allows the benefits of Unified Communications today with a secure and smooth migration to voice in the cloud when the time is right in the future.

To learn more about how to migrate to Cloud PBX, read AudioCodes’s Application Note: Getting the Cloud Right: A Practical Guide: Migrating users to Cloud PBX with AudioCodes CloudBond™ 365

Make sure to visit us at UC Expo on April 19-20 in London, UK stand #K1016!

AudioCodes at Enterprise Connect 2016

Today, Tomorrow, and In-Between: Skype for Business Observations with Fortune 50 companies

On my flight back to Israel from Enterprise Connect 2016 at Orlando, I decided to recap my top 3 observations about Skype for Business from spending time with some of our largest customers.  During the show, I sat down with one of the world’s largest energy companies, one of the biggest pharma producers, and one huge food maker that feeds us. They all deploy Lync/SfB and they all shared the following views.

AudioCodes at Enterprise Connect 2016

A vision is not enough

“Yeah, I get what Microsoft is trying to do with CloudPBX, but…” was a common amongst them.  Seems the “Everything Cloud” vision is compelling when left described by 2 words only.  Numerous caveats are observed:

  • How do I gradually migrate there? Because overnight replacement of a great number of PBX’s serving x0000s of users is clearly not an option.
  • Do I really want to relinquish control of all my users to a Front-End server that is hosted by Microsoft? I understand Microsoft is racing Google and wants as many Enterprise users on their cloud as possible, but is that good for my company, or just for Microsoft? Can I customize to preserve my competitive enterprise edge?

Show me the money savings

Microsoft seems to have correctly identified that the heavy monthly costs of conferencing services is something these enterprises love to cut.  Offering simple, hop on/off services right within SfB, with intuitive integration into Outlook is clearly a compelling proposition.  However, if I am going to send all my global voice traffic to the cloud for conferencing, I must guarantee excellent voice quality and experience.  Getting this done requires costly MPLS infrastructure.  How do I calculate the actual cost or savings by moving to the cloud?  Overall, it seems Microsoft still hasn’t convinced these customers that the TCO through the cloud offering and on a global level, is a favorable one.

Old habits are hard to break

A clean, wire-free workspace with voice, video and chat integration, and slick “click to everything”.  Nirvana!

There are a few “Buts”…

Not all of the employees easily say goodbye to their phones and switch over to headsets.  Nor are they proving responsible to own a small and expensive wireless ear piece, without losing or taking it out of their pants before washing. The bigger “over the head” headsets annoy some of the users, and it seems most “Born before 1980” are used to transferring a call by a push of a button, and hate reaching out to their computer for that.  Last, but not least, it seems a great number of the international markets associate a desk phone with seniority and status.  Seems the IP Phone is going to be with us for a good number of years to come.

 

Read more

CloudBond 365 gradual migration to CloudPBX

VoIPerfect less-MPLS solution for resilient, quality-assured VoIP

AudioCodes IP Phones with IT management tools for SfB

Transition to Cloud PBX

Start the Transition to Cloud PBX Today with a Hybrid Hybrid Environment

Transition to Cloud PBX

One of the biggest challenges today with the vision of transitioning to Microsoft’s recently released Cloud PBX revolves around matching business needs with available features. Although Cloud PBX is on a rapid pace to parity with Skype for Business Server, some of the advanced features are only available on-premises for the foreseeable future. For example, a user who migrates to Cloud PBX today won’t be able to take advantage of features like response groups or integration with contact center software.  In addition, the organization will not be able to use existing analog / fax lines or common area phones.  So the question is, what can you do if you’re interested in making the move over to the cloud but you can’t afford to compromise when it comes to features? One choice is to wait, but I believe the true answer lies in what we call a hybrid hybrid environment.  Yes, you read that correctly – a hybrid hybrid environment.

Bridging the Limitation & Availability Gap

Microsoft has basically allowed – and even encouraged – people to live in a sort of hybrid environment.  Users can essentially take advantage of the Cloud PBX features and functionality that exist today while keeping their existing T1s or SIP trunks. This hybrid deployment gives them the ability to do IM, chat, and video calls with other Skype for Business and Skype users – but limitations as compared with a traditional PBX exist.

Features aside, it’s also now possible to have voice calling plans coming from Microsoft services in the form of DIDs in the cloud (PSTN Calling). Unfortunately, Microsoft is encountering the limitations and regulatory pressures of essentially becoming a carrier.  As a result, it’s going to take them quite some time before they’ll be able to provide DIDs in regions outside of the US.

These limitations and challenges is where the hybrid hybrid model comes into play. (‘hybrid hybrid environment’ is a phrase we commonly use here in AudioCodes) For customer environments today, it means that as long as they have a full Skype for Business Server environment on-premises, they’ll be able to leverage the best of both worlds with some users in Cloud PBX and other on-premises leveraging full features and connectivity such as T1s, E1s, etc.  That is a huge benefit for customers – allowing them to take advantage of the promise of the cloud while staying grounded in the reality of users’ needs today.

The Best of Both Worlds Option

The hybrid hybrid model is something we speak about quite often with our customers and partners.  Today, it’s simply the only way to enable real PBX replacement and smoothly and easily get select users around the world on Cloud PBX while still having the ability to leverage full voice features with on-premises connectivity.

Organizations can pick and choose which users will have the feature set of Cloud PBX and which will be enabled for full Skype for Business Server.  They’ll be able to take advantage of features that aren’t ready for the cloud such as response groups or integration with analog phones/common area phones immediately.  My experience is these are key features that businesses need (especially in larger environments) and subsequently can delay adoption.  In a hybrid hybrid environment, you’ll have a full Skype for Business experience without having to delay the migration process to cloud PBX.

CloudBond 365 Q&A Part 1

You Asked About CloudBond 365: Part 1

As part of the recent launch of AudioCodes CloudBond 365, we conducted webinars with our global partners. The events generated considerable interest. Given the many good questions we received from both our partners and the general audience regarding the new platform, we decided to publically share these questions so that everyone can benefit and learn from them.

CloudBond 365 Q&A Part 1

CloudBond 365 is a solution for the data center, customer premises or the branch. It is a versatile all-in-one Skype for Business appliance designed for hybrid environments or a full on-premises Skype for Business deployment that combines the best of the Skype for Business server, the cloud-PBX and the service provider’s voice services. CloudBond 365 is available as a hardware box (Standard, Pro and Enterprise Box Editions) or as a Virtual Appliance.

We have divided the questions we received about CloudBond 365 into several categories, each of which will get dealt with in a separate blog over the coming weeks.  In this first instalment, we tackle the questions of upgrading to CloudBond 365 from AudioCodes One Box 365 as well as connectivity and integration issues.

Regarding upgrades: We want to emphasize that all One Box 365 units are eligible for upgrade to the CloudBond 365 firmware. The actual upgrade path will be communicated by AudioCodes in the near future.

The following questions were asked regarding connectivity and integration:

How does directory integration work? Does CloudBond 365 have FIM/AD?

The CloudBond 365 Active Directory Connector is an application developed by AudioCodes. It is FIM like and allows for synchronizing user attributes with the customer user forests while simplifying the deployment and creating a clear point of demarcation.

Can multiple CloudBond 365 units be connected into an Office 365 tenant?

Indeed they can.

CloudBond™ 365 can be connected to Office 365 to allow:

  • Exchange Online UM integration
  • Support for Hybrid topology
  • Support for On-Prem PSTN for Cloud PBX

Does AudioCodes offer a full UCMA connection to all users?

UCMA can only work with an On-prem FE server. Trusted applications can work only on an on-premises server.

What can you say about resiliency?

Resiliency can be achieved by using two units of CloudBond 365 in a pool pair. The deployment wizard simplifies the settings of the pool pair.

CloudBond 365 can be deployed as a BPA in a Skype for Business private Cloud to achieve full branch UC resiliency.

 

If you have any additional questions on these topics or any other topic, feel free to reach out to us.

Please check back for our next instalment of the CloudBond 365 Q&A which will focus on Sizing, Licensing and Pricing issues.

Further reading:

Are you stuck in the fog on your way to the cloud

Are You Stuck in the Fog on Your Way to the Cloud?

Are you stuck in the fog on your way to the cloud

A practical approach to migrating (the right) users to Cloud PBX

Many organizations are stuck in the fog of complexity as they move towards the promise of communications in the cloud. Recent Microsoft announcements surrounding enterprise voice for Skype for Business in the cloud have caused significant waves – and no small amount of confusion – in the market.  Cloud PBX and PSTN calling will undoubtedly have a dramatic impact on the way organizations communicate.  Since the online offering doesn’t yet have all the features of Skype for Business server, it is important that enterprises evaluate needs carefully and plan their users’ migration to the cloud accordingly.  (For those looking to dig even deeper, please see AudioCodes’ White Paper: To Cloud or not to Cloud? A Practical Guide for Embracing the Communications Future.)

If you’ve already deployed Lync, Skype for Business, or are seriously considering doing so, you may be compelled to start migrating some users – likely those who may not need the full feature set of the server – to the cloud. The good news is the migration can be done gradually and smoothly.  The AudioCodes solution set provides a practical approach, addressing the reality of today with the cloud’s promise of tomorrow. 

What is Cloud PBX?

Cloud PBX is the set of Call Management features of Skype for Business Online, which is the new version of Lync Online and is the Microsoft hosted version of Skype for Business Server. It is part of Office 365 and is included in selected E-Suite Plans. Cloud PBX includes a subset of the PBX features available in the server edition, enabling such things as outbound and inbound calling through on-premises PSTN Connectivity (using local service providers or local telephony systems) or through a Microsoft  PSTN Calling Plan (available only in select regions).

Challenges and practical considerations in the transition to Cloud PBX

As of December 2015, the lack of feature parity between the online and on-premises offerings remains significant.  Among the main features not included online are branch survivability, response groups, location based routing, call admission control, analog devices, common area phone, and integration with on-premises PBX (can be achieved when using on-prem software such as Cloud Connector or Skype for Business server).  Given that reality, the first step in the migration process is to profile your users and understand which ones should be included in the first migration batch.

In planning a migration strategy to Cloud PBX, several practical considerations need to be taken into account:

1) Which users do you want to migrate to the cloud? How many people really need all the PBX features? How many people outside the office (on the road) can be satisfied by the cloud features?

2) Do you have an existing on-premises telephony infrastructure that you want to co-exist with or gradually migrate away from? (Call center, PBX, IPPBX, etc.)

3) Do you have devices (faxes, video rooms, analog devices) that you need to continue to use?

4) Do you need to maintain local connectivity to the PSTN (existing contracts, or availability, regulatory and Quality of Service reasons for branch offices)? 

Getting the Cloud Right: A Practical Approach

Taking into account the considerations noted above, perhaps the most important thing to do is develop a clear voice migration strategy. Such a strategy would comprise of several stages including assessing corporate requirements (firstly in the headquarters), building an infrastructure that meets those requirements, migrating relevant users to the cloud and finally, expanding that migration by assessing the needs of branch offices, building a corresponding infrastructure and migrating branch users to the cloud as required.  We here at AudioCodes leverage the following model when helping our customers build their strategy: 

Assess – Inventory Your Profiles

In this initial state, it is important that the organization understands its requirements. This is the opportunity to pause and analyze what users are doing, what their needs are and which users can stay local and which can be moved to the cloud. Once the requirements are understood, a hybrid strategy can be developed to build the appropriate infrastructure, adopted to the organization’s needs today and its plans for the future.

Build a Hybrid Platform and Migrate Information Workers First

Once the requirements have been mapped out, an infrastructure need to be built that addresses the needs identified in the assessment stage. The solution is a hybrid platform that is both versatile and flexible, one that can meet not only today’s requirements but ensure that the investment made now can be leveraged for the coming years as well.

With a flexible hybrid platform in place, it’s time to take a second look at the users that were profiled in the assessment stage and choose the first batch of users to be moved to the cloud.

Expand Rollout to the Branches

With the platform deployed and the first users moved to the cloud, the organization can begin examining the needs of its remote branches. An assessment similar to the one done in the assessment stage at HQ may be warranted for the branches as there may be different requirements to consider, including resiliency needs and custom applications such as IVR and contact centers. An assessment should be done as to whether a hybrid platform is needed to meet those requirements. 

Migrating Gradually with AudioCodes CloudBond 365

To facilitate the migration to Cloud PBX, AudioCodes takes a gradual approach based on the steps noted above and proposes a unique solution that enables the transition of some users to the cloud, but also allows other users to enjoy the full feature-set of Skype for Business server.

AudioCodes CloudBond 365TM, the next generation of the One Box 365TM, is a modular, adaptable solution for the data center, customer premises or the branch. A versatile all-in-one Skype for Business appliance designed for hybrid environments, it combines the best of the Skype for Business server, the cloud-PBX and the service provider’s voice services.  It is available as a hardware appliance (Standard, Pro and Enterprise Box Editions) or as a Virtual Appliance.

The CloudBond 365TM provides a fully integrated solution.  When necessary, it has the required Skype for Business servers built in, including the front end, mediation, monitoring, edge and reverse proxy servers.  The appliance also contains an embedded Windows server 2012 R2 and an embedded SQL Server Standard 2012, as well additional virtual machines for trusted 3rd party applications. The CloudBond 365TM Box Editions have built in gateway and session border controller (SBC) capability as well as a host of specialized tools including Office 365 and Active Directory connectors, a deployment wizard, and IP Phone management software.

CloudBond 365TM connects and syncs with Office 365 and the local Active Directory, allowing for voice enablement and an easy setup of voice policies.  Skype for Business users can be registered on CloudBond 365’s Skype for Business server Front End or in Microsoft’s Cloud PBX and can be moved at any time in both directions, providing tremendous flexibility. For users that were migrated to the Cloud PBX, the appliance provides the required mediation, edge and PSTN/SIP trunking connectivity.

The Ideal Bridge

CloudBond 365TM is the ideal bridge for a gradual, smooth migration to full cloud-based connectivity, allowing companies to migrate at their own pace, moving from an on-premises PBX infrastructure to a true hybrid structure. While the Microsoft cloud offering is still evolving into a viable PBX replacement, AudioCodes’ solution exists today, creating the critical bond between today’s UC and the cloud of tomorrow.  For enterprises that want to leverage the flexibility, dynamicity and economical model of cloud services, but still need the power and control of the more traditional on-premises model, the wait is over. You can have tomorrow’s UC today!

For more information, see our Application Note: Getting the Cloud Right – A Practical Guide

Skype for Business-To Cloud or Not to Cloud

Skype for Business: To Cloud or Not to Cloud?

Assessing the state-of-the-market following Microsoft’s announcements on enterprise voice in the cloud for Skype for Business

Skype for Business-To Cloud or Not to Cloud

Recent Microsoft announcements surrounding enterprise voice for Skype for Business in the cloud caused significant waves in the market.  Cloud PBX and PSTN calling will have a dramatic impact on the ecosystem. Yet, real parity between the on-premises Skype for Business Server and the online offering will still take a few years and many companies have concerns about making an immediate full transition to the cloud. These include:

  • Availability and regulatory issues requiring local PSTN connectivity
  • The current Online enterprise voice feature set is limited
  • Quality of Service over the open Internet can be problematic
  • Customers may not be in a rush to forgo existing contracts and working network devices
  • Customers may prefer a gradual migration of users to the cloud

Microsoft understood this and implemented a strategy to offer a solution for this market reality. At the July 2015 WPC event, Microsoft provided more details regarding deployment options. By offering a hybrid solution, where cloud-based PBX services are complemented by an enterprise’s on-premises based PSTN connectivity, Microsoft took their customers’ concerns into account. Their approach includes four deployment options, the middle two being hybrid versions:

  • Skype for Business Server On-premises: Users are registered to the local Skype for Business server; call management and PSTN connectivity are based on-premises. The Exchange Server is on- premises and there is no Office 365 connection.
  • Skype for Business Hybrid: Some users are registered to the Skype for Business Server (this could be in an appliance or in a private cloud) and some users are registered to Skype for Business Online. User identity is synchronized with Office 365 and voice mail is in Exchange Online.
  • Cloud PBX with on-premises PSTN: Users are registered to Skype for Business Online where the call management is handled by the Cloud PBX, but PSTN connectivity (also known as “bring your own carrier”) is handled on-premises through a local gateway or appliance.
  • Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling: Users are registered to Skype for Business Online and are on a Microsoft provided PSTN calling service, all managed by the Microsoft cloud.

Given that reality, a wise deployment of Skype for Business will mix on-premises functionality for corporate and call center users, allowing integration with legacy systems with initial deployment of cloud services. This will lay the foundation for a smooth transition to the full cloud solution down the line. The best way to protect the enterprise’s current investments, ensure a full enterprise voice feature set, guarantee that all company branches around the world are serviced and comply with regulations, is with a hybrid solution which offers the best of both worlds and allows the benefits of Unified Communications today with a secure and smooth migration to voice in the cloud when fully available.

Want to learn more about these 4 options and which one best fits your needs download this white paper – A practical guide for embracing the communications future.

One Box for Lync Innovative Solution

Making The Most of Your Office 365 E4 Plan

Lync voice and Unified Communications are becoming increasingly popular. In this environment, it is natural that innovative solutions for specific requirements within the ever expanding Lync ecosystem are being introduced to the marketplace all the time.

Enterprise Voice for Lync can be accessed through Microsoft’s “Plus” Client Access License (CAL) offering, which in turn can be achieved by either deploying on-Premises Lync devices, or through the cloud-based Office 365 suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, Exchange, SharePoint, Yammer and OneDrive). Microsoft’s Office 365 E3 plan, which costs $20 per user per month, provides UC functionality such as presence, IM, mobile clients, peer-to peer video and voice, voice and video conferencing, screen sharing and editing. The E3 plan, however, doesn’t include enterprise voice – the ability to place and receive calls on the PSTN/cellular network and the ability to use the features that allow organizations to essentially replace a PBX with Lync. To benefit from those features, the end-user would need to add an additional $2 a month to upgrade to Microsoft’s E4 plan and benefit from the “Plus” CAL (bringing the monthly cost to $22). However, the customer would need to install on-premises servers and gateways/SBCs to make it happen, requiring skills and resources many small to medium businesses (SMB) may not have.

An innovative solution to bridge the gap for Office 365 users who want to benefit from Enterprise telephony without the steep infrastructure costs is a lucrative opportunity for partners serving SMBs.

One Box for Lync Innovative Solution

A quick glance at recent research shows just how large the potential of such an opportunity might be. According to Gartner, for example, Microsoft Lync as a voice solution grew 106% in 2013. In research conducted by T3I, 80% of SMBs surveyed showed interest in deploying Microsoft Lync, and of those, 40% had interest in enterprise voice. And on the Office 365 side, one estimate had the service at 29.76 million paid subscribers, an increase of 1.32 million new subscribers per month.

Into this gap enters AudioCodes’ One Box 365. Recent conversations we have had with both industry analysts and many of our own customers have validated the strong interest we have seen in the solution since its introduction back in the summer.  A hybrid on-premises/cloud solution, One Box provides a one-stop shop for all the critical hardware, software and services required for a successful Lync voice implementation. Combining multiple Lync server roles, gateway and SBC functionality into a single appliance, it comes complete with Lync certified IP phones, an Active Directory Domain Controller, voice quality monitoring capabilities and a dedicated user interface for easy migration provisioning and configuring for Lync users. The end result is an offering which allows customers an intuitive, cost effective and quick way to bring Lync enterprise voice alongside their Office 365 deployments.

Further Information

Several articles have been published in the past few weeks about the solution.

  • An in-depth analysis by Marty Parker of UniComm Consulting and Brent Kelly of KelCor, Inc. using essentially the same methodology they used for theirLync Conference 2014 TCO analysis, determined that the five-year total cost of ownership for One Box 365 would be approximately 60% lower for an organization with 50 to 200 users than a comparable on-premises implementation of Microsoft Lync. To watch a recorded webinar with Marty Parker and Brent Kelly click here:
  • Brent Kelly expands on the above TCO analysis using One Box in several different types of Lync deployments in his article in No Jitter.
  • Articles by Kevin Keiller and Marty Parker in UC Strategies show how the Lync ecosystem allows for the introduction of innovative solutions answering needs rising from the field.
  • John Weber, a Lync Server MVP (2010-2014), takes an in-depth look at One Box in his blog, TsooRad.