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The Enterprise Side of GENBAND

Who is Genband? Like many, you may have a vague notion that they acquired some of the Nortel assets. But unlike the fairly straightforward Avaya acquisition of Nortel's enterprise business, those of us who mainly operate in the enterprise sphere are typically not quite sure how the carrier pieces were divided up.

GENBAND is a privately-held company which began as General Bandwidth in 1999 offering media gateway solutions. Through a series of acquisitions, the company has expanded its product portfolio to include IP multimedia application and infrastructure products for fixed wireline, mobile, and cable network service providers. The Nortel product line acquired was primarily the voice carrier solution--the products and customers using the TDM version (DMS 100) and the IP version (CS2000).

Those of us who have been around the telephony space for a while will recall that there are enterprise versions of the DMS 100 and CS 2000, the SL-100 and CS 2100. While Avaya owns the customer relationship with these businesses, Avaya and GENBAND collaborate to support these customers, with the product and technical support coming from GENBAND.

GENBAND describes its customer base as including 700 service provider customers...and 71 enterprises. While 71 enterprises may not seem very significant, each of these businesses is essentially running a carrier class solution supporting thousands of users. The SL-100/CS2100 customer base includes: universities, e.g., University of Texas at Austin, Princeton and Baylor; healthcare organizations like Presbyterian Hospital in NYC; and both military and civilian government agencies, including the Veterans Administration.

One of the clear messages of GENBAND's first user group meeting last week, Perspectives 13, was the slowness with which carriers are moving their fixed-line voice assets to IP technology. With the number of subscribers to landline services on the decline, it is no surprise that service providers are concentrating their scarce dollars on growth businesses, especially mobility.

Moving enterprise installations that are carrier-size to next-generation solutions has been a similarly slow process, and for some of the same reasons. Universities and hospitals, which 10 or 15 years ago needed to support students and patients on their telephony systems, find that these users bring their own devices, i.e., use mobile devices that need improved infrastructure to be supported.

Like TDM carrier infrastructure that will eventually need to be replaced, enteprise customers using older carrier equipment will also eventually need to move to IP and SIP. Avaya certainly hopes to move these customers to some version of the Avaya Aura platform. But GENBAND also has skin in the game, and in April 2013 hired former Nortel (3 years) and Avaya (5 years) product management executive Carl Baptiste in the role of Senior Vice President of Enterprise Solutions.

Each CS2100 customer is a gem to be cherished. Avaya and GENBAND are clearly not the only vendors who recognize this, and both Microsoft and Cisco are likely courting the accounts as well.

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