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No Jitter Roll: This Week in Enterprise Communications

With Enterprise Connect kicking off in just over two weeks, there's never been a better time to get up to date on everything going on in enterprise communications. News continues to pour out of every corner of this space. Just this week Google ramped up its enterprise initiatives with its Hangouts Meet and Chat solutions, 8x8 released its Communications Cloud, and Avaya has a bid from Extreme Networks for its networking business (also see, "Message to Avaya Customers, Channel: Don't Panic!"). And, in case you missed it, we announced the six Internet of Things companies that we have lined up to participate in the Enterprise Connect Innovation Showcase.

If all that wasn't enough for one week, well fear not, because I've got a round-up of some of the other news you may have missed this week in enterprise communications.

Microsoft Teams Approaches GA

Microsoft announced it is holding a special online event on Tuesday, March 14, at 8:30 a.m. PT to "celebrate" the global availability of Microsoft Teams, the chat-based workspace in Office 365 it began previewing in early November 2016. . While details are sparse, we do know that an unnamed special guest will be joining Microsoft VP Kirk Koenigsbauer and the two will talk about what's new with Teams and share customer stories. No doubt we'll hear more about Teams when Ron Markezich, CVP, Office 365, Microsoft, takes the stage at Enterprise Connect to deliver his keynote on Wednesday, March 29, at 10:00 a.m.

Cisco Invests in Startups
Alchemist Accelerator, a venture-backed initiative aimed at accelerating the progress of enterprise startups, announced it is looking to fund early-stage collaboration startups, including those that integrate with the Cisco Spark Service and those using Cisco Collaboration APIs for voice, video, and messaging.

Enterprise Connect 2016 attendees may remember that at last year's event, Cisco keynoter Rowan Trollope announced the Cisco Spark Innovation Fund, a $150 million investment aimed at developers. Cisco has now invested $1 million of that fund into the new Alchemist fund.

"Our relationship with Alchemist has given us exposure to a wide variety of enterprise startups," said Rob Salvagno, head of Cisco investments and VP of Cisco corporate development, in a prepared statement. "With this new fund, our goal will be to support a new generation of startups that are disrupting the collaboration industry by developing new features and functionality on top of Cisco Spark."

Alchemist has previously made investments in Assemblage and Synata, both acquired by Cisco (see "Cisco Collaboration 'Moving at Warp Speed' " for more details from Cisco Collaboration SVP and GM Jens Meggers -- also an Enterprise Connect 2017 keynoter -- about how acquisitions have fit into the company's roadmap).

Lifesize Introduces Live Stream

Video conferencing technology provider Lifesize announced Live Stream, the latest addition to its cloud-based Lifesize application. The solution is intended for high-definition live streaming of company meetings, training sessions, and other corporate events, the company said.

Lifesize Live Stream enables Lifesize virtual meeting rooms to stream content to up to 10,000 simultaneous viewers and up to 50 video-enabled sites. Users can join a Live Stream from any device, browser, or location. Lifesize offers a usage-based pricing model for Live Stream, allowing organizations to forego the need to buy a certain package or try to predict the number of events for which they'll need the service. Further, Live Stream allows for real-time Q&A from within the live streaming page, turning what is typically a one-sided event into an interactive session.

Unify Gets the DoD Nod

Unify's OpenScape Voice platform has gained the nod of approval from the Defense Information Systems Agency, following testing for interoperability and information assurance by the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Interoperability Test Command. JITC tested OpenScape voice for virtual and physical environments, demonstrating 99.999% availability, according to Unify. With its placement on the approved products list, authorized officials, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and enterprises get access to assessment results and risk information for review when authorizing a system for use.

Modality Systems Launches Modality Labs

As a way of celebrating the company's 10-year anniversary, Modality Systems announced the creation of Modality Labs, a "free-thinking space" for developers to connect and collaborate with customers and partners on early-stage ideas and prototypes. Modality said it was driven to create the Labs as a way to raise awareness about developing products so it could gather user feedback on features and functionality before making them available as part of its portfolio of products and services.

"Innovation and invention are important to ensuring an 'evergreen' business and are at the heart of our core values," said Modality Systems CTO Nick Seagrave, in a prepared statement. "Modality Labs gives us a forum to engage with the wider market and share ideas for new products and applications that could help with transforming and futureproofing communications enabled business activities."

If you haven't yet registered for Enterprise Connect, taking place March 27 to 30, do so now using the code NOJITTER to receive $300 off an Entire Event or Tue-Thu Conference pass or get a free Expo Plus pass.

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