Verizon pursues ‘sell with’ strategy to provide integrated connectivity to Microsoft Teams users
Telecoms operators are circling the enterprise services market as they seek out new sources of revenue. The aim isn’t necessarily to become IT providers themselves but to assemble attractive packages of popular enterprise software alongside communications capacity and infrastructure.
One recent announcement has been a new collaboration service announced by Verizon which will enable its network customers to integrate their compatible voice infrastructure to a Microsoft Teams environment across 80 countries. The Teams unified communications (UC) platform combines workplace chat, video meetings, files storage and collaboration and applications integration. The platform is built on an Office 365 Groups subscription and features extensions that can integrate with non-Microsoft products. Microsoft says Teams is currently used by 500,000 organisations worldwide.
The new service utilises Verizon SIP Trunk connectivity and direct routing to allow users to access Teams’ collaboration features. Verizon says its virtualised, cloud-based Session Border Control as a Service (SBCaaS) reduces the need for organisations to invest in traditional hardware. VanillaPlus managing editor, George Malim, spoke to Francoise Boardman, the senior product manager for Global Advanced VoIP Services at Verizon, to find out more about the new offering and how Verizon is addressing enterprises.
George Malim: How does the collaboration work? Is Verizon selling the capability to utilise Microsoft Teams or is it responding to enterprise customer demands to be able to use Teams?
Francoise Boardman: Customers are looking at the collaboration platform that best suits their environment being [either] a premises-based or cloud-based solution. Implementing UC solutions can be a challenge due to a heterogeneous infrastructure with multiple vendors involved so, being able to offer a service that gives network customers the capability of integrating their voice infrastructure to their Microsoft Teams environment, is a logical and natural extension for Verizon.
In the context of Microsoft Teams, customers can utilise Verizon IP Trunking connectivity and direct routing together with Verizon’s SBC capability to ensure users can not only benefit from the features that Microsoft offers but also ensure the ability to enable calling outside of the enterprise.
Verizon has a ‘sell with’ strategy which means that customers purchase their Microsoft licences directly from Microsoft, while Verizon provides the IP Trunking, dedicated or cloud SBC and professional services to integrate everything.
Verizon is also selling complete Verizon UC solutions like our unified communications and collaboration as a service (UCCaaS) and virtual communications express (VCE) offerings.
GM: Does taking the SBCaaS from Verizon mean enterprises are equipped to gain similar functionality for other apps?
FB: SBCaaS being a virtualised cloud-based service has the ability to help customers use other applications whilst, in parallel, benefitting from strong carrier connectivity. SBCaaS is app-agnostic and can support other similar UC applications. SBCaaS enables easy solutions deployment and negates the need from additional hardware investment whilst the underlying connectivity ensures strong performance of the customer’s application coupled with a reliable redundant solution.
GM: Do you expect to see more of this type of collaboration between app providers and connectivity providers?
FB: Yes. In recent years many new UC&C providers have entered the market and more will do so. Initially, many providers, including Verizon, are focusing on delivering the whole chain or service, like Microsoft did with Skype for Business. Enterprise customers in particular require a strong collaboration platform integrated into their workplace for users to better collaborate and improve productivity, but IP Trunking connectivity – VoIP telephony – is still the most important requirement. Customers require strong calling capability which supports local calling capability, local compliance and strong service reliability with up to a 100% service availability service level agreement (SLA). This is why Verizon’s ability to interconnect with various collaboration applications, like MSFT Teams, can deliver the best of both worlds for the customer.
GM: Is this type of collaboration an opportunity for Verizon to serve its enterprise customer base by bundling together solutions for enterprises? Could this be of particular enterprises for larger SMBs looking to level the playing field with large enterprises by taking enterprise-grade technologies, enabled by their connectivity provider?
FB: This is another opportunity to service customers with a flexible approach to answer their collaboration needs. By integrating connectivity into Microsoft Teams, Verizon enables customers, who have made the Microsoft choice for their collaboration platform, to benefit from a productivity and collaboration solution whilst keeping the best of both worlds with Verizon IP Trunking connectivity. Ultimately all customer segments are looking for a full, integrated solution with both strong reliability and flexibility. The key is to ensure a smooth migration path to customers whether their choice is a cloud-based or premises-based environment.
Microsoft Teams using Office 365 enables organisations from small business to large enterprises to benefit from stronger UC capabilities. Verizon’s SBCaaS and IP Trunking solution is purely cloud-based and can scale from small to very large businesses.
GM: Does the migration from physical hardware at the customer premises provide an opportunity for Verizon to put forward its enterprise offerings – beyond traditional communications – for the virtualised and digitalised world?
FB: Verizon has led virtualised and digitalised solutions for many years with strong investment in the collaboration and network environment with SBCaaS, software defined networks (SDN), virtualised network services (VNS) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Verizon’s strategy is to accompany customers in their transformation hence not only investing in those solutions but also ensuring a strong underlying network that can ensure efficient and reliable service. This is where the combination of Verizon’s IP network, IP Trunking and SBCaaS, coupled with the Microsoft Teams solution, can answer enterprises’ need for tools and solutions for better collaboration and productivity whilst ensuring strong calling capability.