Tag Archives: platform

What are the steps for an Exchange certificate renewal?

An expired Exchange certificate can bring your messaging platform to a halt, but it’s easy enough to check and replace the expired certificate.

When mail stops flowing, Outlook access breaks and the Exchange Management Console/Shell gives errors, then it might be time to see if an Exchange certificate renewal is in order.

Exchange adds a certificate by default with your protocols during its installation, including Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and Internet Information Services (IIS). Many companies do not allow access to Outlook on the web, so mail is only accessible internally. This limits the Exchange Server capabilities as Microsoft designed it to be accessible from anywhere on any device.

For companies that choose to limit Exchange’s functionality, the IT staff often opts to use the default certificate, which has a five-year life span. In five years, IT might forget about the Exchange certificate renewal until they receive countdown emails warning that it will expire. If nobody sees these emails and the certificate expires, then problems will start, as Exchange services that require a valid certificate might not work.

To check a certificate’s status, run the following PowerShell command:

Get-ExchangeCertificate | fl

Assign a new certificate for Exchange 2010

If Exchange breaks due to an expired certificate, then you might want to push for a quick fix by issuing a certificate to an internal certificate authority. This won’t work because the certificate authority will not sign the certificate.

If you start to panic as help desk tickets start to flood in, this is when trouble typically happens. You might try to adjust the settings in IIS, but this can break Exchange. However, the fix is simple.

Run the New-ExchangeCertificate command to initiate the Exchange certificate renewal process. This PowerShell cmdlet will create a new self-signed certificate for Exchange 2010. The command prompts you to replace the existing certificate. Click Yes to proceed.

Exchange certificate replacement
Execute the PowerShell New-ExchangeCertificate cmdlet to build a new self-signed certificate for Exchange 2010.

Next, assign the services from the old certificate to the new one and perform an IISReset from an elevated command prompt to get Exchange services running again.

Finally, ensure the bindings in IIS are set to use the new certificate.

Remote monitoring and management: Netgear Insight Pro debuts

Netgear has launched Insight Pro, a cloud-based remote monitoring and management platform that the company said will bring managed service providers more network management capabilities, as well as attractive revenue opportunities when they resell the service.

Netgear executives said Insight Pro is a multi-tenancy platform designed for MSPs that want to manage numerous customers remotely. This is a change from the previous version of the product, called Insight, which was designed to manage the network ecosystem of only one small or medium-sized business.

The networking company, based in San Jose, Calif., introduced Netgear Insight Pro in August in North America and Asia, and it featured the product earlier this month at the CEDIA Expo conference in San Diego.

John McHugh, general manager and senior vice president for Netgear’s commercial business unit, said Insight Pro can help MSPs and their customers build a better business relationship. The aim is to help those parties gain transparency, greater efficiency and control over network operations.

Remote monitoring and management reporting

Once an MSP buys a Netgear Insight Pro subscription at $15 per device, per year, and resells the subscription service, customers that sign on can see a read-only view of their network. The remote monitoring and management offering generates reports that give users details on power usage, data consumption and storage utilization, among other usage statistics that show the health and vulnerabilities that exist across the network. 

“Insight will detect a hardware failure, bandwidth or loading issues and configuration problems,” McHugh said. “It will also help the MSP determine what the ‘peak’ loading is, which is critical to provide customers with guidance on where they might need additional capacity either now or in the future.”

Customers don’t want to commit to a cloud model and then get stuck in an arrangement that’s unaffordable.
John McHughgeneral manager and senior vice president for Netgear’s commercial business unit

To guard against network slowdowns, mitigate the impact of outages and protect the network against security breaches, Netgear Insight Pro is supported by a suite of Netgear products that include apps, firmware, wireless LANs, storage devices, network security tools and switches that run on Amazon Web Services’ cloud computing platforms.

As the cloud subscription model continues to reduce the need for value-added resellers to install hardware at customer sites, the Insight Pro product will help VARs transition to a service provider business, according to McHugh. He said many VARs are intimidated by the idea of managing a customer’s network on a 24/7 basis under a subscription model.

“In the case of a VAR who is becoming an IT service provider, they don’t have to purchase any equipment, and they don’t have to stand up a 24-by-7 data center or call centers to manage their customer’s network. All the notifications and alerts go straight to their phone,” McHugh said.

Netgear Insight Pro: Toggling the cloud

Another feature of the remote monitoring and management product: MSPs using Insight Pro can switch access to the cloud on or off. Once an MSP has authenticated itself and started a subscription, McHugh said, the MSP will have the option to choose whether it wants to manage a customer’s network locally or manage it through the cloud.

“Customers don’t want to commit to a cloud model and then get stuck in an arrangement that’s unaffordable,” McHugh said. “Partners and their customers demand that they have this flexibility as they work through their concerns over user experience and the cost of operations. Customers of Insight Pro only pay for what they use.”

Tibco analytics capabilities get upgrade in Spotfire X

Spotfire X, the latest iteration of the Tibco analytics and data visualization platform, aims to give users a more streamlined experience by incorporating more AI and machine learning capabilities when the upgraded platform is released this fall.

Notably, the platform update, characterized by what Tibco has dubbed a new “A(X) Experience,” will enable users to type in requests to navigate and visualize their data through natural language processing (NLP), to automatically record dataflows that can later be explored and edited. It also will natively stream data in real time from dozens of sources.

The new Spotfire X features are designed to create a faster and simpler user experience, according to Brad Hopper, vice president of product strategy, analytics and streaming at the integration and analytics software vendor. “This will allow us to take a complete novice off the street, put them in front of the tool, and no matter what they will get something back,” he said.

Search for simple

With the rise of citizen data scientists, it has become a trend for self-service analytics vendors to design platforms that are easier to use and more automatic, turning to employing AI and machine learning algorithms to do so.

Brad Hopper, TibcoBrad Hopper

Earlier this year, a Tibco competitor, Tableau, acquired MIT AI startup Empirical Systems, whose technology is expected to provide Tableau platforms with more advanced predictive analytics capabilities and better automated models. Also this year, Qlik, another big-name self-service analytics vendor, acquired startup Podium Data in a bid to better automate parts of its platforms and make them simpler to use.

“There is a trend in the market … for AI and machine learning to be used to explore all the possible data, all the possible variables,” said Rita Sallam, a Gartner analyst.

With the new Spotfire X features, Tibco analytics is looking forward, even if the features aren’t necessarily innovative on their own, she said.

“They’re leveraging natural language as a way to initiate a question and they are, based on that question, generating all the statistically meaningful insight on that data so the user can see all the possible insights on that data,” Sallam said.

A(X) Experience in Tibco Spotfire X
The A(X) Experience in Tibco’s Spotfire X enables faster and easier analytics with NLP tools and improved AI

AI advice

With the A(X) Experience, Spotfire X also will deliver AI-driven recommendations for users.

“We’ve built in a fairly sophisticated machine learning model behind the scenes,” Hopper said.

The Tibco analytics platform can already use AI to automatically index different pieces of data and suggest relationships between them.

Now from the Spotfire X’s NLP-powered search box, users will be able to receive a list of visualization recommendations, starting first with “classical recommendations” before getting to “a ranked list of interesting structural variations,” Hopper explained.

Forrester analyst Boris Evelson said the Tibco analytics and Spotfire X moves are “yet another confirmation of a trend that leading BI products need a dose of AI to remain effective.”

While AI is not replacing BI, BI tools that infuse AI functionality will displace the tools that don’t.
Boris Evelsonanalyst, Forrester

“While AI is not replacing BI, BI tools that infuse AI functionality will displace the tools that don’t,” Evelson said.

Tibco made the Spotfire X announcements during the Tibco Now conference in Las Vegas in early September 2018. 

The enhancements to Tibco analytics capabilities were among other product developments unveiled at the event. Others included the a user-partner collaboration program called Tibco Labs, more tools for Tibco Cloud, and a new collaboration between Tibco and manufacturing services company Jabil.

Microsoft seeks broader developer appeal with Azure DevOps

Microsoft has rebranded its primary DevOps platform as Azure DevOps to reach beyond Windows developers or Visual Studio developers and appeal to those who just want a solid DevOps platform.

Azure DevOps encompasses five services that span the breadth of the development lifecycle. The services aim to help developers plan, build, test, deploy and collaborate to ship software faster and with higher quality. These services include the following:

  • Azure Pipelines is a CI/CD service.
  • Azure Repos offers source code hosting with version control.
  • Azure Boards provides project management with support for Agile development using Kanban boards and bug tracking.
  • Azure Artifacts is a package management system to store artifacts.
  • Azure Test Plans lets developers define, organize, and run test cases and report any issues through Azure Boards.

Microsoft customers wanted the company to break up the Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) platform so they could choose individual services, said Jamie Cool, Microsoft’s program manager for Azure DevOps. By doing so, the company also hopes to attract a wider audience that includes Mac and Linux developers, as well as open source developers in general, who avoid Visual Studio, Microsoft’s flagship development tool set.

Open source software continues to achieve broad acceptance within the software industry. However, many developers don’t want to switch to Git source control and stay with VSTS for everything else. Over the past few years, Microsoft has technically separated some of its developer tool functions.

But the company has struggled to convince developers about Microsoft’s cross-platform capabilities and that they can pick and choose areas from Microsoft versus elsewhere, said Rockford Lhotka, CTO of Magenic, an IT services company in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Rockford Lhotka, CTO, MagenicRockford Lhotka

“The idea of a single vendor or single platform developer is probably gone at this point,” he said. “A Microsoft developer may use ASP.NET, but must also use JavaScript, Angular and a host of non-Microsoft tools, as well. Similarly, a Java developer may well be building the back-end services to support a Xamarin mobile app.”

Most developers build for a lot of different platforms and use a lot of different development languages and tools. However, the features of Azure DevOps will work for everyone, Lhotka said.

Azure DevOps is Microsoft’s latest embrace of open source development, from participation in open source development to integrating tools and languages outside its own ecosystem, said Mike Saccotelli, director of modern apps at SPR, a digital technology consulting firm in Chicago.

In addition to the rebranded Azure DevOps platform, Microsoft also plans to provide free CI/CD technology for any open source project, including unlimited compute on Azure, with the ability to run up to 10 jobs concurrently, Cool said. Microsoft has also made Azure Pipelines the first of the Azure DevOps services to be available on the GitHub Marketplace.

AT&T revives Office@Hand UCaaS deal with RingCentral

In an unexpected move, AT&T will continue supporting and reselling RingCentral’s unified-communications-as-a-service platform as part of a new partnership targeting the large-enterprise market. 

AT&T had informed customers in January 2018 that, within a year, it would no longer support RingCentral’s Office@Hand, a cloud-based calling and messaging platform the carrier had been selling to small and midsize businesses.

But, this week, the two companies struck a new deal: AT&T will now start selling the UCaaS product to large enterprises, as well as SMBs. Scott Velting, an associate vice president with AT&T, attributed the about-face to “rapidly changing market dynamics and technological advances.”

RingCentral previously purchased AT&T’s customer licenses for Office@Hand in an agreement worth up to $26 million. The startup cautioned investors that revenue could be “significantly and adversely affected” if too many of those customers declined to transition from AT&T to RingCentral.

While some of those customers have already migrated, the businesses that have not yet switched will be able to remain on the Office@Hand platform through AT&T, RingCentral said.

Leading up to the earlier decision to end the partnership, Office@Hand sales had stagnated, with an “immaterial” number of new subscriptions sold in all of 2017, according to RingCentral. Sales through the AT&T channel accounted for 11% of RingCentral’s revenue that year — down from 14% in 2016. 

With the new deal announced this week, the technology behind Office@Hand is the same, but RingCentral appears to have developed a more robust strategy for working with service-provider partners like AT&T, said Jeremy Duke, founder and chief analyst at Synergy Research Group, based in Reno, Nevada.

RingCentral is “currently growing at more than the average growth rate for the UCaaS market, and they want to continue that growth,” Duke said. “And they see the AT&T relationship as very important to continue building that momentum.”

RingCentral has more than doubled its revenue over the past three years, from $220 million in 2014 to $501 million last year, according to federal regulatory filings.

“I think this move helps RingCentral in its efforts to move upmarket. We continue to see RingCentral posting strong growth numbers; this expanded partnership should only help,” said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

AT&T partners with several other UCaaS vendors, including Cisco and BroadSoft, which was recently acquired by Cisco. It also has its own cloud communications platform, AT&T Collaborate.

Vendors target large enterprises with UCaaS

While SMBs drove most of the initial growth of the UCaaS market, more and more enterprises are also now buying cloud calling plans.

UCaaS sales in the enterprise market are growing at twice the rate of sales in the SMB market, according to data released last month by Synergy. There are now nearly 8 million UCaaS seats worldwide, a twofold increase since late 2015, the firm said.

As of the second quarter of 2018, RingCentral remains the leader, with an 18% market share, trailed by Mitel at 16%, 8×8 at 13%, Cisco at 7%, and Vonage at 7%, according to Synergy. Mitel recently acquired UCaaS vendor ShoreTel.

Still, UCaaS platforms account for less than 10% of the total PBX market, according to Synergy.

“Our data shows that larger enterprises are still laggards when it comes to adopting UCaaS, but interest continues to grow,” Lazar said.

VMworld pushes vSAN HCI to cloud, edge

VMware executives predict the vSAN hyper-converged software platform will grow rapidly into a key building block for the vendor’s strategy to conquer the cloud and other areas outside the data center.

VMware spent a lot of time discussing the roadmap for its vSAN hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) software roadmap at VMworld 2018 last month. The vSAN news included short-term specifics with the launch of a private beta program for the next version, along with more general overarching plans for the future.

VMware executives made it clear that vSAN HCI will play a big role in its long-term cloud strategy. They painted HCI as a technology spanning from the data center to the cloud to the edge, as it brings storage, compute and other resources together into a single platform.

The vSAN HCI software is built into VMware’s vSphere hypervisor, and is sold as part of integrated appliances such as Dell EMC VxRail and as Ready Node bundles with servers. VMware claims more than 14,000 vSAN customers, and IDC lists it as the revenue leader among HCI software.

VMware opened its private beta program for vSAN 6.7.1 during VMworld, adding file and native cloud storage and data protection features.

VSAN HCI: From DC to cloud to edge

During his opening day keynote at VMworld, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger called vSAN “the engine that’s just been moving rapidly to take over the entire integration of compute and storage to expand to other areas.”

Where is HCI moving to? Just about everywhere, according to VMware executives. That includes Project Dimension, a planned hardware as a service designed to bring VMware SDDC infrastructure on premises.

“The definition of HCI has been expanding,” said Yanbing Li, VMware senior vice president and general manager of storage and availability. “We started with a simple mission of converging compute and storage by putting both on a software-defined platform running on standard servers. This is where a lot of our customer adoption has happened. But the definition of HCI is expanding up through the stack, across to the cloud and it’s supporting a wide variety of applications.”

VSAN beta: Snapshots, native cloud storage

The vSAN 6.7.1 beta includes policy-based native snapshots for data protection, NFS file services and support for persistent storage for containers. VMware also added the ability for vSAN to manage Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) in AWS, a capacity reclamation feature and a Quickstart guided cluster creation wizard.

If it pans out as we hope, it will be data center as a service.
Chris GreggCIO, Mercy Ships

Lee Caswell, VMware vice president of products for storage and availability, said vSAN can now take point-in-time snapshots across a cluster. The snapshot capability is managed through VMware’s vCenter. There is no native vSAN replication yet, however. Replication still requires vSphere Replication.

Caswell said the file services include a clustered namespace, allowing users to move files to VMware Cloud on AWS and back without requiring separate mount points for each node.

The ability to manage elastic capacity in AWS allows customers to scale storage and compute independently,

“This is our first foray into storage-only scaling,” Caswell said.

The automatic capacity redemption will reclaim unused capacity on expensive solid-state drive storage.

Caswell said there was no timetable for when the features will make it into a general availability version of vSAN.

Mercy Ships was among the customers at VMworld expanding their vSAN HCI adoption. Mercy Ships uses Dell EMC VxRail appliances running vSAN in its Texas data center and is adding VxRail on two hospital ships that bring volunteer medical teams to underdeveloped areas. They include the current Africa Mercy floating hospital and a second ship under construction.

“The data center for us needs to be simple, straightforward, scalable and supportable,” Mercy Ships CIO Chris Gregg said. “That’s the dream we’re seeing through hyper-converged infrastructure. If it pans out as we hope, it will be data center as a service. Then, as an IT department we can focus on things that are really important to the organization. For us, that means serving more patients.”

LogMeIn enhances GoToWebinar with analytics, on-demand viewer

LogMeIn has released a revamped version of the GoToWebinar cloud webcasting platform that gives users an interactive analytics dashboard, a new video-editing tool and the ability to publish recorded webinars to a website for on-demand viewing.

The analytics console lets users generate bar and line graphs by filtering aggregate viewership and engagement data. Previously, users had to download separate analytics spreadsheets for each webinar and could only analyze multiple events at once by manually combining those records.

The interactive interface should help marketers and trainers — the two most common types of live webcasters — track trends in attendance or watch-through rates over time. The vendor will also help users identify which times of day and days of the week draw the largest audiences.

Businesses are increasingly seeking access to more comprehensive analytics before, during and after web conferences and live broadcasts, according to Roopam Jain, analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “GoToWebinar’s new analytics dashboard brings the service more at par with where the market is today,” she said.

LogMeIn also broadened access to its on-demand video repository, GoToStage, where all GoToWebinar users can now publish recordings of their webinars. The platform, released in beta last year, sorts videos by topic, so viewers can use the site to discover videos of interest.

With the release of GoToStage, LogMeIn is addressing a gap in the webinar market, as more businesses look to use on-demand videos to increase viewership and continuously generate customer leads, Jain said. 

“There are not many webinar vendors today who offer a single integrated platform that combines on-demand webinars with a persistent content delivery platform built for social marketing,” Jain said. “GoToStage addresses that opportunity.”

LogMeIn builds out profile to remain competitive

The overhaul of cloud webcasting platforms comes a couple months after the vendor refreshed its flagship web conferencing platform, GoToMeeting, adding instant messaging and automatic transcription.

LogMeIn was named one of four leaders in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Meeting Solutions that was released this week, slightly trailing Cisco, Microsoft and Zoom. In addition to GoToWebinar, the vendor’s other products include GoToTraining, Grasshopper, OpenVoice and the Jive cloud unified communications platform.

LogMeIn is facing increasing competition from Microsoft, which in July added live broadcasting capabilities to its on-demand video responsivity, Microsoft Stream, and integrated that product with its team collaboration app, Microsoft Teams.

Cisco, meanwhile, recently combined its online meetings and team collaboration platforms — now branded as Cisco Webex and Cisco Webex Teams — and expanded the cloud infrastructure of those products to lay the groundwork for advanced video use cases, such as augmented and virtual reality.

LogMeIn has sought to differentiate its platforms by designing easy-to-use interfaces and selling the products at a relatively low price.

“GoToWebinar has seen the most success with [small and midsize businesses] that often opt for best-of-breed solutions,” Jain said. “With the redesigned user interface and a new disruptive pricing, it will continue to appeal to businesses that look for simplicity, ease of use and lower pricing.”

Box-IBM AI connection core component of Box partner strategy

SAN FRANCISCO — The Box-IBM partnership has spawned the first custom AI applications for the Box Skills Kit platform, codeveloped by IBM and the content management software vendor.

Box has been refining its Salesforce-style developer ecosystem by pursuing two tiers of partners: strategic partners with big market reach, like IBM, and application integrations with leading app vendors, like Salesforce, Facebook and Slack.

As for the strategic partnerships, which also include companies like Google and AT&T, “we work with like-minded companies that have the ability to bring us into their customer conversations,” Niall Wall, senior vice president for business development and partners at Box, said in interview at the BoxWorks 2018 user conference.

Box, IBM go to market together

In the Box-IBM partnership, the companies have formal go-to-market contracts in which IBM resells Box into its customer base, and the companies share about 400 customers.

Wall said a key differentiator for Box in these partnerships is that Box brings a distinct emphasis on cybersecurity and partners and customers can feel that their content is safe inside Box.

“We take all that complexity out,” Wall said. “We say to our customers, ‘We will guarantee that your data will remain secure as you are enhancing it with these third-party AI services.'”

In the latest development in the Box-IBM relationship, on Dec. 18, 2018, Box plans to commercially release three custom AI and machine learning-based Box Skills based on Watson technology and developed in conjunction with IBM.

Box Skills Kit and basic Box Skills also work with AI services from AWS, Google and Microsoft, though those vendors have not yet released custom applications.

Users field-tested AI skills

IBM Watson tested the Box content applications over the last year with Canadian bank ATB Financial and H&R Block Canada.

The AI skills are used to categorize, organize and search Box content using AI algorithms embedded in the Box Skills framework.

H&R Block is using the custom document insights skill, which uses natural language processing to parse text and process basic tax forms.

The tax preparation form uploads large tax documents. Then, Watson learns the language of the forms, identifies key metadata and information, and pulls it out.

“The tax specialist can now say, ‘Here’s all the information and what I need to do,’ versus a human being going in there and entering all this information,” said Rashida Hodge, vice president for embed and strategic relationships at IBM Watson.

Meanwhile, the Canadian bank is using the same document insights skill to analyze and extract information from home loan applications to make it easier for loan officers to handle instead of manually going through application forms.

The content layer in both of these Box-IBM use cases is the Box platform.

IBM talks Box

So, now, we have a foundation where data is living in Box, and we’re taking the complexity and obscurity of AI.
Rashida HodgeIBM Watson

“What I think is fantastic about Box is that, to start any AI project, what do you need? Data. So, now, we have a foundation where data is living in Box, and we’re taking the complexity and obscurity of AI,” Hodge said. “So, customers are saying, ‘We can get these kinds of insights and intelligence from our data in Box, and all we have to do is turn a switch on.'”

Another IBM-Box skill is the custom image insights skill, which uses optical character recognition to capture images and then tag and classify their metadata. A third skill automates document transcription translation into dozens of languages.

“Now, it’s more searchable and more consumable,” Hodge said. “When you talk about AI for the enterprise, the reason Box picked us for their launch partner for customization is it’s not about general tagging or general information about a document.”

“It’s about the specifics of a particular domain, and we can drive that metadata,” she said.

AI business outlook promising

Hodge said IBM was seeing robust sales lead activity at the conference, where David Kenny, IBM Watson senior vice president, joined Box CEO Aaron Levie on stage before thousands of Box users and where the IBM booth was getting heavy walk-up traffic.

Software engineers and salespeople at the booth on the busy partner exhibit floor handled a steady flow of inquisitive prospective buyers and other conference attendees.

One of these curious potential customers was Aali Hashmi, senior software architect at Box customer Fannie Mae, the government-backed mortgage lender.

Hashmi watched a demo and then engaged in a long, technical conversation with the IBM engineer, who then photographed with his smartphone Hashmi’s conference tag information to follow up after the conference.

In an interview, Hashmi said he can envision using the Box-IBM AI tools to digitize and auto classify content, like home mortgage forms and also HR documents.

“It looks promising,” he said.

Talari SD-WAN targets mobile with Meta Networks integration

Talari Networks’ customers can now combine their software-defined WAN service with a network-as-a-service platform from Meta Networks.

The platform offered by Meta Networks, an Israel-based NaaS startup, targets remote and mobile users who need to access data center and cloud applications. While SD-WAN technology offers remote connectivity to an extent, it is limited in its flexibility to connect individual remote and mobile BYOD users, as most can’t deploy a physical or virtual SD-WAN appliance. With Talari’s support for Meta Networks’ NaaS software, Talari customers located outside the software-defined WAN perimeter can connect using one of Meta’s multiple points of presence (POP) worldwide.

With the platform, user devices connect to the closest Meta POP to access corporate resources. Instead of applying policies based on site location, Meta Networks takes a user-centric approach by specifying policies and application authentication based on individual user permissions. Network administrators, for example, can create policies that deny mobile users access to certain websites or cloud applications.

The integrated offering is now available for Talari SD-WAN customers.

Versa Networks adds managed SD-WAN partner

Versa Networks added another service provider to its managed SD-WAN partner list. California Telecom, headquartered in Chino, Calif., joins existing Versa Networks partners CenturyLink, China Telecom Global, Comcast Business and Verizon in adding managed SD-WAN services to its portfolio.

California Telecom customers can choose from three available purchasing options: SD-WAN standard, SD-WAN advanced and SD-WAN secured. Load balancing, automated failover, error correction and circuit monitoring, among other features, are included in all three options. Customers can add additional features, such as firewalls, antivirus and content filtering and advanced routing.

“We spent over a year looking for an SD-WAN platform we could integrate into our existing MPLS infrastructure that could offer all the features that were being promoted in the industry,” said Jim Gurol, California Telecom’s CEO, in a statement. Versa’s Cloud IP Platform paired well with California Telecom’s infrastructure, he added, allowing the service provider to go to market immediately.

Customers can deploy California Telecom’s managed SD-WAN service to create various WAN designs, including hybrid MPLS, cloud-based SD-WAN and security-focused models, Gurol said.

SD-WAN adoption impeded by available options

Enterprises are investigating SD-WAN, but the technology is still being adopted relatively slowly, according to a report conducted by Sapio Research at the request of Teneo, a consulting firm and technology integrator.

While almost half of the 200 senior IT and networking managers surveyed said they were investigating SD-WAN in some form, only 20% said they’ve deployed the technology. A third of the respondents hadn’t yet evaluated SD-WAN technology. Part of the reason for SD-WAN’s slow adoption is the large number of available SD-WAN options and variants, according to Marc Sollars, CTO of Teneo, based in Dulles, Va.

“Many firms are clearly putting a toe in the water on SD-WAN or doing a proof of concept, but it’s still very hard to say when this test phase will start to translate into enterprise-level implementations,” Sollars said in a statement. “In many ways, the broad range of choice that SD-WAN brings is what’s causing companies to hesitate over their decisions.”

Respondents indicated the primary driver to consider SD-WAN deployment is to help address the growing complexity of network infrastructure and performance tasks. Cutting network costs and better infrastructure management followed behind.

Mitel targets enterprises with MiCloud Engage contact center

Mitel has released a contact-center-as-a-service platform that — unlike its other contact center offerings — is detached from its unified communication products. The over-the-top product should appeal to large organizations, which are more likely to buy their contact center and Unified Communications apps separately. 

MiCloud Engage Contact Center, which runs in the multi-tenant public cloud of Amazon Web Services, supports voice, web chat, SMS and email channels, and integrates with Facebook Messenger and customer relationship management (CRM) software.

The MiCloud Engage platform plugs two gaps in the vendor’s cloud contact center portfolio. It scales to over 5,000 agents, significantly more than the 1,000-agent capacity of its flagship cloud platform, MiCloud Flex.

Furthermore, Mitel has traditionally bundled its UC and contact center products, a combination that appeals to the vendor’s historical customer base of small and midsize businesses. MiCloud Engage, in contrast, is available as a stand-alone offering.

Mitel hopes the new platform will help it gain a foothold among enterprises, which are more often customers of Avaya, Cisco or Genesys. It could also appeal to individual divisions or lines of business within a large organization.

Mitel continues cloud pivot ahead of acquisition

The release of MiCloud Engage comes months shy of the publicly traded company’s planned acquisition by the private equity firm Searchlight Capital Partners L.P. The $2 billion deal, announced in April, is expected to close by the year’s end.

Going private should help Mitel grow its cloud business because it will be able to focus on long-term growth rather than quarterly earnings. Following a series of recent acquisitions, the company also benefits from a relatively large install base and a broad mix of cloud UC offerings.

Mitel’s 2017 acquisition of ShoreTel made it one of the top UC-as-a-service vendors worldwide, along with 8×8 and RingCentral. Still, only 6% of Mitel’s 70 million UC seats were in the cloud at the outset of 2018: 1.1 million in the public cloud and another 3 million hosted in Mitel’s data centers.

Ultimately, MiCloud Engage could serve as a conduit to more enterprises buying Mitel’s UC products, the core of its business. Gartner ranks Mitel among the top four UC vendors, alongside Microsoft, Cisco and Avaya.

“If you can’t win the UC business, then winning the contact center business and creating a backdoor that way is a good strategy,” said Zeus Kerravala, the founder and principal analyst at ZK Research in Westminster, Mass. “Getting your foot in the door is the important piece, and that’s what they’re trying to do with [MiCloud Engage].”