Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
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Beth Schultz | February 16, 2017 |


What Might AWS UCaaS Play Mean for the Enterprise?

What Might AWS UCaaS Play Mean for the Enterprise? Gene Farrell, AWS VP of enterprise applications, will share his vision from the keynote stage at Enterprise Connect 2017.

Gene Farrell, AWS VP of enterprise applications, will share his vision from the keynote stage at Enterprise Connect 2017.

Enterprise communications and collaboration is at a crossroads, as the old hardware way of life intersects with the new software orientation. Will companies find themselves plowing into an uncertain future, or driving full speed ahead into new opportunities opening before them?

Legacy vendors typically sit on one side of this intersection and companies born of the digital era on the other. Cloud, sitting in the center, is where all the jockeying for position is going to take place.

Such has been the driving force for a few years now, and we've seen a lot of forward progress. If you want your phone service delivered from the cloud today, you have plenty of options for that. And the same goes for your UC, collaboration, and contact center applications. But the question I have now is, what happens when a semi-truck of a company arrives on the scene? Like Amazon Web Services (AWS). As you've likely read on No Jitter or elsewhere, AWS is now offering a UCaaS service, called Amazon Chime.

Gene Farrell, AWS

Using acquired technology as a starting point (presumably from Biba, which the company quietly acquired last fall), AWS has tried to do a few things differently with Chime, Gene Farrell, VP of enterprise applications at AWS, told me in a product briefing. Chime can dial out to meeting participants, for example; provides a visual status roster of participants; and allows any meeting participant to mute the line of any other to alleviate disruptive background noise.

I haven't tried Chime, so I don't know how it compares to other cloud team meeting services. However, I do know that it's worth paying attention to no matter whether it provides a superlative or merely OK experience out of the gate. Here's why: From its humble beginnings as a provider of on-demand cloud storage and server capacity for one-off instances, AWS has evolved into a computing powerhouse for companies large and small across industries. It needs little in the way of introduction to the enterprise -- a luxury that smaller UCaaS providers don't have.

In fact, "Does it run on AWS?" is a common query for many enterprises considering SaaS deployments. That's as true for UC and collaboration offerings as any other. Does the UCaaS provider deliver its software via AWS or its own cloud, and what are the pros and cons of each architectural choice? Now that AWS can provide both the infrastructure and the communications software itself -- well, that has the potential to change things, and perhaps considerably. You might argue that the same advantage goes to Microsoft, with its Azure cloud and Skype for Business Online service. One difference -- and it will be interesting to see whether this plays out as a positive or negative -- is that by now, Microsoft has an installed base of premises UC, which users will have to strategize around as they consider the longer-term migration to the cloud.

AWS has been slowly moving up the stack into end user computing, as Farrell pointed out. First came a virtual desktop service, then document management and collaboration software, then email, followed by a business intelligence offering... and now team collaboration, with two initial partners -- Level 3 and Vonage -- ready to sell the service as part of their UC suites beginning next quarter.

In my recent No Jitter On Air podcast with Frost & Sullivan program director Elka Popova, we had already learned that some enterprises are in a wait-and-see mode as Microsoft beefs up Skype for Business Online. I don't think it's too much of a leap to think that AWS's market entry could further complicate decision-making about moving to the cloud.

With this in mind, we are pleased that AWS's Farrell has agreed to deliver a keynote address at Enterprise Connect 2017. He'll take the stage at 11:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, March 28, joining a roster of keynoters that includes Jens Meggers, SVP and GM of Cisco's Cloud Collaboration Technology Group; Ron Markezich, Corporate VP of Microsoft Office 365; and Jeff Lawson, founder, CEO, and chairman of Twilio.

Check out the full Enterprise Connect conference program here, and register today using the code NOJITTER to receive $300 off an Entire Event or Tue-Thu Conference pass, or get a free Expo Plus pass. I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

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