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May 09, 2012

Aastra, Level 3 Illustrate Wider Strategies in Internet2 Deal

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

When Aastra (News - Alert) and Level 3 last announced a deal with the Internet2 educational consortium to sell cloud UC services and SIP trunking, the two companies followed broader long-term strategies, setting them up well to build business in a post-PBX (News - Alert) (There, I said it! POST-PBX) cloud-centric era.

Aastra's first "big deal" in the cloud space was established many years ago, when it was the primary supplier of IP handsets for 8x8's (News - Alert) voice service – back before we called hosted services "cloud." All total 8x8 has probably moved close to 100,000 Aastra IP phones over the years through its various sales mechanisms, including "Big Box" retail and a direct sales force.

The Internet2 deal provides Aastra with a true "sweet spot" of mid-sized to large enterprise-size customers, with business and operational terms appearing to combine parts of on-site and cloud offering. An initial case study with Texas A&M University (TAMU), available here, provides more information. 

Aastra will provide TAMU with its Clearspan UC solution, running on blade servers hosted in redundant campus data centers. An initial 3,000 lines have been switched over to VoIP with the migration expected to take up to eight years and support up to 45,000 users.

Level 3's strategy has been to pair with IP voice services and equipment supplies when it needs to fill in its portfolio of customer needs. Back in 2009, Level 3 partnered with 8x8 to sell hosted solutions to the U.S. government, leveraging its existing set of federal contracts and relationships. 

Partnering with Aastra for Internet2's requirements fits the same template. Level 3 provides SIP trunking , leased line services and wholesale voice services when needed under the Internet2 arrangement, while Aastra delivers a range of solutions based on the Clearspan UC platform, including servers and IP handsets. 

Both sides benefit and there is no direct conflict or overlap between the two companies as to who gets what piece of the work.

Perhaps most importantly, Aastra and Level 3 seem to be intent on establishing long-term relationships with a select number of partners that can work with steady large volume over a long period of time. Aastra's work with 8x8 and its forthcoming Internet2 projects certainly illustrate that, as does Level 3's relationship with 8x8 in the federal space and the scope of the Internet2 voice services deal based upon its earlier wholesale carrier relationship with the non-profit.

Doug Mohney's latest report, "HD Voice 2012: Proliferation," is available for purchase through TMCNet here.




Edited by Braden Becker
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