ChannelVision Sept-Oct 2017

By Greg Plum Microsoft Is Serious AboutVoice Fast forward several years and the space has, indeed, changed. Applications compa- nies morphed into “cloud” companies, offering their wares on a subscription basis (a.k.a. SaaS or software-as-a-service), and tele- com companies turned their focus away from circuits to IP-based communications, giving birth to the terms “voice-over-IP” (VoIP), and more recently “unified communications” (UC). Microsoft can certainly be viewed as a leader in this transformation, introducing Office 365, which offers subscription-based access to its flagship products, such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel. As for convergence, Lync, which is now known as Skype for Business, quickly became the brand to beat. Some Office 365 licenses even include a fully integrated tele- communications option. Microsoft and Voice Microsoft is serious about voice – voice in the classic sense, with a phone number that you can give to your customers, or even your mom, to reach you. And guess what happens when they call that number? All your connect- ed devices (or as many as you want) alert you to the incoming call. As an MSP or solutions provider, should you recommend to your customers that they move their voice services to Microsoft? Well, that de- pends. Here are some questions to ask them: • Do they want to move their company’s te- lephony service to the cloud? (They may have answered this question already if they no longer have telecom equipment onsite.) • Are they already leveraging Microsoft services with Office 365? • Have they started collaborating with their colleagues with Skype for Business, or maybe even its consumer-grade counter- part, Skype? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” that customer may be an ideal candidate for PSTN voice service, known as Enterprise Voice, offered by Microsoft. How Does itWork? Sensing the widespread effects of conver- gence in the market, service providers quickly identified ways to integrate their own telecom service into Skype for Business. Leveraging their own servers and creating what may be called a “private cloud,” they began offering PSTN integration with Skype for Business as E ver since I first heard the concept of “convergence,” referring to the integration of computing technology and telecommunications, I couldn’t help but feel the tone of the predictions resembled that of Chicken Little running around proclaiming, “The sky is falling; the sky is falling.” Third in a series on partner opportunities in leveraging Skype for Business, this installment explores the integrated voice service offered by Microsoft’s Cloud PBX, and how the channel can benefit. Core Communications Channel Vision | September - October, 2017 70