Verizon to Host UC Service For Businesses

Broadening its hosted offerings for business communications, Verizon Business (VZ) said today it’s offering a new managed unified communications platform integrated with Office Communications Server from Microsoft (MSFT). Known as “Verizon Business Application Management for Office Communications Server,” the new service enables real-time instant messaging, VoIP, presence features and Web conferencing, all without the set-up and management complexity of customer-run UC platforms.

The new management suite can reside on servers in Verizon’s data centers, in third-party co-location facilities, or at the customer premises, said Mike Marcellin, Verizon’s vice president of global managed solutions.

“We’re working to separate the delivery model from the underlying guts of what we’re trying to provide,” Marcellin explained. “The cloud is great, but for certain mission critical applications, some IT directors may say, ‘I’m putting this in the facility I already have.’ That’s great, and we’ll manage it for you even if it’s housed outside our facility.”

Verizon has produced a series of new products and services in the last six months to deepen its support for its enterprise customers. In December, the carrier released enhancements to its Private IP line service that make it simpler for companies with legacy telecom equipment to reap the benefits of next-generation networks.

Briefly, Verizon beefed up its Private IP-Layer 2 service to give it many of the same features and benefits of its Layer 3 offering. Those include multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) and traffic-engineering capabilities, along with applications such as voice over IP, video conferencing, unified communications and other advanced features previously available only to Private IP-Layer 3 customers.

The company has also extended its click-to-conference application to several popular Web-based messaging suites including IBM’s (IBM) Lotus Sametime Unified Communications and Collaboration, Microsoft’s Office Live Communications Server 2005 and Jabber XCP, from Cisco (CSCO).

This latest offering is less a single product than an overall strategy to define hosted unified communications for individual businesses, sell the right tools to implement those features, and support them on an ongoing basis, Marcellin added. “Where we are unique from Cisco, or other vendors, is we’re not trying to sell the end-user a box or a software license,” he said. “We will work together to bring other vendor components into a single solution.”

Pricing for the new service begins at $2.50 per user per month.

Verizon Business also said today that it has extended its contract to provide networking and data services at Pentagon facilities worldwide. The new 10-year deal, awarded under the Defense Information System Network Transmission Services – Pacific II contract, could be worth up to $2.5 billion over its entire life.

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