The service will provide standard PBX functionality, instant messaging and audio and video conferencing. OBT said that its ability to seamlessly integrate unified communications into existing Microsoft Office applications and infrastructure would be a key feature making the service attractive to customers.
OBT said: "The two clear end-customer market segments targeted are channel partners that sell to the SMB market and channel partners that service the enterprise market, with the offerings best suited for scaled service providers.
OBT managing director, Shane Muller, said the offering was targeted primarily at enterprises. "We would probably draw a line at about 50 and the lowest we would go to would be about 20 seats. We see the biggest opportunities in the enterprise space."
OBT presently offers infrastructure, software and desktop as a service through a network of about 18 channel partners, but Muller said he did not expect these to be the right partners for the new UC service. "This is a very different product. You need reach and you need scale to sell this product." He said the company was looking for "only a handful of channel partners for the offering."
OBT is offering three variants of its hosted Lync service:
- White Label Anywhere, where OBT hosts the service.
- Managed Anywhere, where OBT builds the Lync-hosting platform in the channel partner's data centre and on their infrastructure and continues to operate it on the partner's behalf post-deployment.
- Independence Anywhere, where OBT builds and operates the system and then transfers the infrastructure and management of the operation to the partner's own team.
Muller said: "We only want to recruit partners who view Lync as a strategic addition to their business and put everything behind it as opposed to those who want to just add in a cloud or UC option.
"In return we are dedicating technical support and expert resources to ensure mutual success. Our white label program provides training, collateral, and ultimately the ability to generate service revenues."
Muller said that OBT had looked at Cisco and Avaya UC technologies but in the end opted for Microsoft. "Firstly we needed something that would work for the end user. Secondly we needed something for the IT department. If we had flipped those [priorities] around we might have ended up with a different solution. End users don't come to us and say 'We want Cisco UC'. IT departments do."
He added that the licensing regime had also favoured Microsoft. "Licensing can be very complex and they seem to speak different languages. We wanted to use a language palette driven primarily by the end users."
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