XO Unveils First Cloud Service

By Khali Henderson Comments
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XO Communications Inc. announced Monday at Enterprise Connect the launch of its enterprise cloud communications service, the first in a suite of cloud-based services the CLEC plans to roll out over the next 12-18 months.  All services will be available for sale through the company’s indirect sales partners.

XO Enterprise Cloud Communications integrates a range of IP telephony features, local and long-distance calling, HD voice and video, network services and IP phone sets in hosted, subscription-based service.

The service is targeted at midmarket enterprises with $5,000 to $100,000 in monthly telecom spend and 50-1,000 employees per location, said Eric Hyman, XO’s director of product management, in an advanced interview with Channel Partners. Targeted vertical industries include retail, education, health care and finance, he added.

The service pricing will mirror that of XO’s other IP communications services, said Hyman, explaining that it will include monthly charges for the port, local loop, choice of eight long-distance packages and a per-user fee for the phone and feature set.

“It’s a Chinese menu except for the phone/features," Hyman said, noting “all in," the per-seat price will be around $50 per month depending on the bandwidth, long-distance plan and phone set chosen.

Customers can include the phone in the subscription or purchase them outright if they choose, Hyman said. (Headset also will be offered on a purchase basis.) XO’s hosted IP PBX service presently is compatible with various phone models offered by Cisco Systems Inc. and Polycom Inc.  In part, he said, these vendors were chosen for support of HD voice and video available with the XO service. Additional phone makers’ gear will be introduced at a later date once the service has been in production for a while, Hyman said.

Customers will be able to manage the service via a web portal to handle day-to-day administrative tasks such as reconfiguring users’ phones, set up phones for new employees and manage name and number displays. Permissions are available to administrators and users. Hyman said the portal enables customers to make all non-billable changes to their service.

The XO hosted IP PBX service runs over the XO MPLS IP VPN network. In addition, Hyman said XO is locating a probe, Packet Smart, to monitor traffic over the customer WAN. This will help the company to pinpoint congestion and meet service level agreements.

Further, the service is deployed with geographical redundancy, Hyman said, explaining that its Broadsoft switches are located in Dallas and Chicago at neutral colocation facilities.

The communications offer will be followed by other cloud services, including security and managed backup in March, managed server in late second quarter, a Microsoft bundle (SharePoint, Exchange and Live Meeting) in second half of 2011 or early 2012.

Contact-center integration with Enterprise Cloud Communications is planned for 2012.

All cloud services will be available for sell through the CLEC’s indirect sales channels under existing contracts and compensation models. Training will be conducted by local channel managers. Hyman said there also is an opportunity for partners to help customers make their LANs VoIP-ready and layer on the cloud services.

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