Verizon begins field trial of Cisco-based unified services

Hosted Collaboration Solution at Verizon is based on Cisco's Unified Computing System

LAS VEGAS -- Verizon Business today said it has launched a field trial of a new cloud-based unified communications and collaboration service for business customers. The new offering is based on technology from Cisco Systems.

The service, dubbed Cisco's Hosted Collaboration Solution at Verizon, relies on what Cisco calls its Unified Computing System.

The Cisco system relies on use of virtual machines to support user demand, said Barry O'Sullivan, senior vice president of voice technology at Cisco, speaking at a news conference at the Cisco Live! conference here.

Cisco also announced that European carriers Swisscom and Orange have started field tests of the new technology.

O'Sullivan said that users of the Verizon implementation of the service can decide whether to rely on on-premise servers or on cloud-based systems to support the unified communications services.

Verizon's trial will include Cisco's Unified Communications 8.0 software which provides a UC manager to customers, and capabilities for users to have presence information as well as Webex collaboration and management tools for Webex, O'Sullivan said.

Also on Wednesday, BT Group PLC announced an expansion of its hosted Internet Protocol telephone service with some Cusco unified communications services to business customers in the U.S. The service was initially launched in the U.K. in December.

BT's service also relies on Cisco cloud-computing technologies using an existing approach called Cisco Hosted Unified Communications, O'Sullivan explained. O'Sullivan said BT's service is not based on UCS and therefore doesn't run in virtual machines or have the complete set of collaboration tools of Verizon's. He didn't elaborate further on the differences between the two systems.

BT's service allows businesses to cut costs by converging voice, mobile and data services on every desktop in a customer's operation, BT said in a statement.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, send e-mail to mhamblen@computerworld.com or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .

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