Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
Read Full Bio >>

Beth Schultz | March 24, 2016 |


OTT and Cloud Communications, the ALE Way

OTT and Cloud Communications, the ALE Way A hybrid approach provides a promising twist on familiar over-the-top and cloud stories.

A hybrid approach provides a promising twist on familiar over-the-top and cloud stories.

As Greg Collins, technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures pointed out earlier this week in a No Jitter post, the over-the-top wave is surging, with one OTT service provider after another rolling out communications and collaboration apps with enterprise teams in mind. We've got hot independents like Atlassian's HipChat and Slack's eponymous app, and, increasingly, competitive offerings from companies more traditionally associated with enterprise communications -- Cisco's Spark, Glip by RingCentral, and Unify's Circuit, for example.

To Collins' point, this month alone we've seen the debut of at least three new OTT options -- services that enable communications and collaboration via IP rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN). We've got Mitel's MiTeam, which No Jitter covered in the early March post, "Mitel's Lineup to Include MiTeam;" and, as announced from the keynote stage at Enterprise Connect, Zang Spaces from newly created Avaya spinoff Zang (see "The Yin and Yang of Avaya and Zang" and "Avaya Steps Up its Platform Game"). That leaves us with Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow, another OTT communications and collaboration app that made its debut at Enterprise Connect.

Into the Cloud
So let me share a bit about Rainbow, representative as it is of the OTT trend but also part of a much bigger story about where Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) is heading. As to that latter point, the quick explainer is "into the cloud," of course. But ALE is adding a twist with its approach to cloud communications, as I learned in talking with Matthieu Destot, newly appointed EVP and GM for ALE's Communications Business Division.

Digital transformation, and the new user experiences enterprises aim to achieve through it, has inspired ALE to rethink its operating model, Destot said. While once a "cloud enabler," he said, ALE now intends to be a three-layer cloud services provider that enables connectivity from premises-based telephony systems to the cloud.

Hybrid Model
Rainbow, as an OTT app for instant messaging and presence, voice and video communications, and screen and file sharing, fits in at Layer 1, Destot said. This, in part, is about investment protection -- enterprises can use Rainbow regardless of what communications gear they have on premises. "Think of it like using WhatsApp. It won't matter what PBX you're on. You will get the same experience."

To stand out in the crowded OTT market, ALE will offer Rainbow as a freemium service beginning in June, Destot said. Between consumer and enterprise apps, "we think the value of anything going over the top between two smartphone users is going down to zero. So we will offer ours free of charge, in the freemium model."

Enterprise versions, offering advanced capabilities such as app integration, directory synchronization, and click-to-call functionality, will be available beginning in the third quarter. ALE will charge a per-user monthly fee for the enterprise-grade Rainbow app, and enterprises will get the benefit of reduced telephone bills as traffic flows between Rainbow users over the top or on net, Destot said.

At Layer 2, ALE is providing connectivity from any vendor's communications gear on premises to the cloud via a plug-and-play architecture it calls Cloud Connect (see graphic below), due later this year. Operationally, Cloud Connect will provide new opportunities for business partners offering ALE-based managed services via a permanent XMPP link between authenticated and authorized entities, Destot said. The partners will be able to tap into real-time data from the ALE OpenTouch and OmniPCX platforms and use the insight in enriched management and security services.

At Layer 3, ALE will connect the Rainbow platform into the PSTN and allow traditional service providers to carry "enriched UC" calls across their networks. "We'll be controlling the flows, but giving the traffic and revenue opportunity back to the carriers, Destot said.

Via a subscription-based model due next year, ALE looks to support what it calls "verticalized" applications, such as it already does in its hospitality strong suit. It will support vertical API integration for healthcare and other industries.

While the roadmap deliverables are yet to come, ALE's hybrid approach is a promising twist on the familiar OTT and cloud stories. And, this approach certainly does play to the trend that Collins pointed out in the earlier mentioned article. That is, "[m]essaging and social media applications are becoming the focal point for the communications experience, not the dialer app."

Follow Beth Schultz and No Jitter on Twitter and Google+!
Beth Schultz on Google+


April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

April 5, 2017

Its no secret that the cloud offers significant benefits to enterprises - including cost reduction, scalability, higher efficiency, and more flexibility. If your phone system and contact center are

March 22, 2017

As today's competitive business environments push workforces into overdrive, many enterprises are seeking ways of streamlining workflows while optimizing productivity, business agility, and speed.

April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.