Siemens' Project Ansible: What It Means for the Channel

By Kelly Teal Comments
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By now you've likely read or heard about the new unified communications initiative over at Siemens Enterprise Communications called Project Ansible. Sci-fi geeks will recognize "Ansible" as Ursula K. Le Guin's word for a machine capable of instant, faster-than-the-speed-of-light communication (the rest of us will be forgiven for having to research the reference). The name seems apt, given the buzz surrounding Project Ansible's capabilities. Indeed, analysts say Siemens appears to be taking a big step toward achieving the real promise of UC – not developing a new product, per se, but bringing together all of the elements that make for easy collaboration, communications and social media interaction from one portal, on any device. Once Ansible is released next year, channel partners should find opportunity targeting organizations that have collaboration tools but lack strong user adoption.

First off, let's be clear: Project Ansible will not replace Siemens OpenScape UC. That will come as a relief to partners and their customers because Project Ansible is not another product designed to replace an existing one. Rather, Project Ansible is an "enhancer" to OpenScape, said Michael Brandenburg, UC industry analyst within Frost & Sullivan's Information & Communications Technologies practice. "That means that the channel can continue to sell the same back-end systems that they are selling today without worrying that they will be obsolete when Ansible is available," Brandenburg said.

To that point, Project Ansible's biggest draw may be its single view, which means users do not have to jump in and out of applications such as Salesforce.com, Microsoft or LinkedIn, for example. All of those programs, and more, are accessible from within Project Ansible. Further, Project Ansible turns meetings into voice and video transcripts, and will transcribe and search voice mails, emails, social media content, text messages and more. Then, users can find colleagues working on similar projects.

In terms of how to use Project Ansible, Siemens has developed the Ansible Agent for iOS and Android, and made it accessible over one of the four common browsers. Across devices, Project Ansible relies on the emerging WebRTC protocol for audio and video, so non-OpenScape users can receive an email with a URL and take part in Project Ansible-based collaboration. 

“Project Ansible is designed to address core challenges faced by so many organizations today: enterprises are at the center of a complex web of interconnected systems that are hard to manage; companies are failing to drive the full value of those investments; and, while communications tools increasingly play a more central role in business, the user experience is broken," Hamid Akhavan, CEO of Siemens Enterprise Communications, said in a press release.

That may sound like a bunch of marketing hype but analysts seem to find Project Ansible pretty revolutionary. 

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