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GENBAND Must Clear Hurdles to Succeed In Enterprise UC Market

By Kelly Teal
May 02, 2012 - News

GENBAND's recent foray into the enterprise unified communications (UC) market, through resellers, was an unexpected move from a company that spent its first 13 years targeting service providers. The change in business model, driven by the need for new revenue, seemed smart, albeit late; UC has dominated enterprise technology trends for the past several years but GENBAND only joined the fray this year. For its part, the company bills itself as "thoughtful," wanting to take its time choosing whether to pursue an almost saturated enterprise UC sector. Going up against Avaya, Cisco, Siemens Enterprise and others likely will not prove easy – right now, those rivals boast more distributors and VARs, and better name recognition among end users. But GENBAND says it has a plan and, to be sure, it has signed a major partner in Black Box Network Services. The question is, will GENBAND's strengths outweigh the weaknesses and give the company an edge among enterprise UC users?

Analysis: GENBAND's Enterprise Strengths, Weaknesses

GENBAND does appear to have plenty of strengths to help it attack the enterprise market. First, it owns an armory of Nortel assets, from its purchase of the Carrier VoIP and Applications Solutions (CVAS) unit. Those products, combined with GENBAND's gear, have created a "full-featured and well-tested" platform for enterprises, wrote Kent Landoline, principal analyst for Current Analysis, in a recent client memo.

In addition, GENBAND's service provider heritage serves it well; that background means GENBAND can deploy highly reliable technology for large enterprises, just as it has done for carriers. GENBAND is targeting the 1,000-user market. Finally, there's also the ability to use GENBAND's enterprise UC either in the cloud or on-premise. The underlying infrastructure is the same in both, which lets GENBAND maintain control of systems and upgrades, Landoline said.

There are drawbacks. For example, GENBAND wants to distribute through channel partners but that vision remains a work in progress, Landoline said, adding that GENBAND's channel issues probably will not be settled until later this year in the United States, and not until next year in Europe. On top of that, GENBAND is a "virtual unknown" among enterprises, Landoline said.

Landoline also noted that GENBAND's enterprise UC will not be available in a software-only version, which means virtualization in customer data centers will be delayed, putting the company at a competitive disadvantage. Plus, that platform doesn't have "a sophisticated, home-grown contact center application," Landoline said. There's a third-party piece from T-Metrics, but that's not a brand relied upon by most large enterprises, he said. A last hurdle GENBAND must jump is overcoming its legacy model. Other service provider infrastructure companies, such as BroadSoft, have tried to target enterprises, and not done well.

"It remains unclear if GENBAND has formulated a strategy that will succeed where others have generally failed," said Landoline.

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