BT, Cisco partner on cloud-based voice and collaboration

UK telco BT announced a partnership with networking giant Cisco Wednesday that will see the two companies jointly deploy a cloud-based voice and video collaboration platform called One Cloud Cisco. The companies say the new platform will help position them to take advantage of recent trends in flexible working.

The platform, which is based on Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution,  includes a number of mobility-focused collaboration features including Jabber instant messaging, HD video, and HD voice, and can be deployed on a per-user basis. BT will be offering the platform alongside its unified communications services broadly belonging to its BT One portfolio.

The telco said that in addition to using existing third-party accredited security approaches the company will make security consultants available to ensure any deployments of the unified communication system on non-BT infrastructure are equally secure. Its own research suggests IT managers view security as the main obstacle when it comes to adopting these kinds of tools, but it may also be a response to recent allegations suggesting fibre operators may have played a leading role in NSA-gate.

“There’s been a sharp increase in flexible working recently, bringing with it a huge demand for better collaboration tools,” said Kate Ross, head of unified communications and CRM marketing at BT Global Services. “There is a rise of video culture in global organisations and increasing pressure on IT departments to allow use of own devices (BYOD). IT managers, therefore, are looking at cloud services as the solution to their stretched budgets and outdated legacy systems.”

Eric Waltert, managing director, collaboration at Cisco said: “The rise in mobility has opened up new ways in which teams, employees and customers are choosing to connect and collaborate with one another to get things done. The key to success in this new world is having open and accessible communications that cross experiences – whether it be in a physical office, face-to-face through a video call, in a voice call, or in a converged connection through Cisco Jabber.”

The launch of the cloud platform coincided with the release of a BYOD and flexible working survey including responses from over 500 IT decision makers in Europe and the UK.

According to the research over 85 per cent of those surveyed say they intend to implement a cloud-based collaboration service in order to cater to an increase in BYOD and flexible working. One in three also say their businesses are ill-equipped in terms of digital collaboration platforms.

Ross said that the business case for using these platforms can be fairly compelling. According to the survey businesses that have taken similar cloud-based collaboration platforms beyond the trial stage have experienced on average a 24 per cent reduction in the overall TCO.

BT, which has previously collaborated with Cisco on other unified communications products is among a growing number of telcos looking to deploy cloud-based services in a bid to gain a stronger foothold in enterprise markets, bringing them into closer competition with big IT incumbents like Citrix and Microsoft.

It has had its virtual datacentre offering in the market for two years now, it has its own infrastructure as a service offering (BT Cloud Compute) and vertical-specific application offerings (BT Radianz). It also launched cloud-based storage with Dropbox-like functionality in February this year. And while the recently launched platform may bolster their IP telephony business, which according to IDC already accounts for nearly a quarter of the global IP telephony market, it will also edge existing customers toward other (high value) cloud-based solutions.

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