Verizon announced today it is extending its managed services offering for Microsoft Lync Server to its business customers by adding the ability to operate, monitor and manage unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) servers and functions.
Since 2010, Verizon has been assisting businesses with UC&C planning, design and implementation with Lync but decided to expand its service with operations and management of Lync from its own network operations centers, said Bob Riley, senior consultant for UC&C at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, in an interview.
The hosted service, called Managed UC&C for Microsoft Lync Server 2010, is available now in the U.S. and 19 European countries. Verizon will serve even the largest multinational businesses whose mobile workers use such services as instant messaging, collaboration over the Web and voice and videoconferencing.
Riley said the price of the service will vary by the number of Lync servers under management and the number of users. He said Microsoft estimated the cost at $7 per worker per month.
By operating and managing the Microsoft System Center Operations Manager gateway servers on a business location, Verizon hopes to distinguish itself from other Lync services providers, Riley said. SCOM is a hub and a collection point for data from various UC&C Lync servers that range from SharePoint to Exchange to a SQL Server as well as a Verizon voice gateway.
Demand from enterprises for a range of UC&C capabilities is high, especially to improve worker productivity and lower costs, Riley said. With the new capability, a large company can use instant messaging, audio, video and Web conferencing and even desktop videoconferencing through Lync, along with voice services over Verizon's global IP network. That IP network offers Voice over IP and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which are both integrated into the public switched telephone network.
In addition, the new management service can be combined with Verizon SIP Trunking connections (offered since 2007) with managed session border controllers for better network security and reliability. Verizon uses a variety of third-party vendors that have partnered with Microsoft to round out its UC&C services capability, including Acme Packet, a provider of session border controllers and Polycom, a videoconferencing provider.
Verizon also offers hosted services using the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Services capability and others, but Lync is desired by many companies that already incorporate Microsoft applications and software throughout their IT operations, Riley said.