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Sprint & Switch: Modernizing Work

There is an emerging idea that work is what you do, not where you go. That's precisely the concept that Craig Walker, founder and CEO of Switch Communications, said drove the company to team with Sprint on delivering its cloud-based UC solution to modern, mobility-centric enterprises, as announced yesterday.

You might recall that back in July 2014 Sprint began reselling Google Apps for Work. When Walker got wind of this news, he said he saw it as a prime opportunity for Switch to work with Sprint, being that Switch is focused on adding voice to the Google Apps portfolio to provide a complete enterprise UC solution. And so the two companies began discussions around how they might collaborate in delivering UC to mobility-centric enterprises.

The result is something that Sprint and Switch are calling a "soft bundle" mobile workplace solution. For $15 per seat per month, businesses can have Sprint set up the Switch application on devices, which will provide unlimited domestic calling and text.

"You can get not only your cell phone set up, but you also get your phone system, your Switch system, and you can even sign up for Google Apps for Work all at once. And literally within X number of minutes, your company can go from the dark ages to the future and have all the benefits of that cloud-based enterprise platform that includes [Sprint's] mobile services, plus Google Apps, plus Switch, plus UberConference," said Walker, with this latter product being Switch's conferencing service.

Because Sprint is one of the largest carriers, he sees its selection of Switch not only as validation of all the hard work that the roughly 120-employee startup has achieved, but also as support of what it sees as the future of cloud-based communications. For its part, Sprint sees the Switch relationship as an opportunity to expand on its efforts to offer Google Apps for Work to enterprise customers, said Greg Burton, Manager Business Solution Product Marketing at the carrier.

"We really try to use Google Apps as a way to give businesses justification to add mobility and devices. ... We knew that Google Apps for Work was a great product itself, but what it lacked is that business voice capability. And so we wanted to bring Switch on to provide that," Burton said.

To deliver real-time communications, Switch supports the WebRTC protocol -- and that's something that Sprint found particularly appealing, Burton added. "We think it's a little bit more forward-thinking than some of the other solutions out there like RingCentral or 8x8. And we liked the simplicity and the value in the pricing," he said.

During my discussion with Walker, he stressed how important the cloud has become to today's enterprise; it allows organizations to be more mobile, and more businesses are leaving their old on-premises approaches behind.

"If you're moving your email, if you're moving your calendar, if you're moving your Box, clearly the IT department understands the value of the cloud. The organization understands the increased productivity you can get out of that. To not move your phone system as well is insanity to me," he said.

"It's going to be a really interesting next five years as everyone gets off of their on-premises Exchange and on-premises Office suites, and starts looking at the cloud for their productivity," he added. "Voice is going to go right along with it. And voice has to be more than just PSTN replacement or PBX replacement. It has to do everything. It has to be mobile-first, has to work extremely well on any platform, and has to be able to do everything: messaging, presence, PBX, video -- all that stuff."

Also announced yesterday, Switch has added peer-to-peer video calling into its solution, rounding out the package that includes cloud-based voice, messaging, and presence for desktop and mobile devices. As Walker explained, Switch sees this video calling capability as complementary to its integration with Google Hangouts. "Hangouts is really better for multiparty video, whereas the Switch video that we're launching is ideal for peer-to-peer, quick, instantaneous video between coworkers."

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