TMCnet Feature
September 26, 2013

collab9 Adopts New Sales Model to Deliver Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution

By Sandra M. Gustavsen, Analyst, Business VoIP

collab9, a California-based Cisco (News - Alert) Hosted Collaboration Solution service provider, is going through a makeover of sorts, rebranding and adopting a new sales model that promises to open up the funnel for new business. collab9 was formerly known as En Pointe Collaboration Solutions or ECS, the enterprise-class hosted voice and collaboration service based on Cisco’s HCS that was introduced in 2012 by En Pointe Technologies, Inc., a California-based IT solutions provider. Still offering Cisco HCS, the company has new branding as collab9 and is moving forward as its own entity.

collab9 has also shifted its distribution model to be 100 percent channel-based, partnering with two distributors that already sell Cisco’s on-premises unified communications solutions, Tech Data (the TDCloud business unit) and WestCon (the Comstor (News - Alert) business unit) that will deliver Cisco HCS as a subscriber-based hosted service for mid-sized enterprises in the United States. Resellers that become a Tech Data (News - Alert) or WestCon Cisco Cloud Partner will white-label and resell the cloud services to end customers, while taking advantage of the distributor partner for ordering and provisioning and collab9 for the network operations and data center infrastructure. 

Cisco HCS extends Cisco’s collaboration portfolio (Cisco Unified Communications (News - Alert) Manager, Cisco Unity Connection, Cisco Mobility, Cisco Jabber, Cisco Unified Presence, Cisco Customer Collaboration and Cisco WebEx) as subscriber-based services through Cisco partners, including collab9 and other service providers, systems integrators, wholesalers and resellers around the world. End-user organizations pay a fixed monthly fee to utilize the hosted services for their communications in lieu of purchasing on-premises equipment and incurring the associated monthly telecom and data costs.

Hosted solutions are appealing to today’s businesses, not only for budgetary reasons (reduced capital expense, installation and energy savings, predictable per-user monthly fees and fewer IT personnel required), but also for the range of business productivity applications and built-in redundancy and disaster recovery capabilities and the ability to take advantage of innovative technologies as soon as these become available. Multi-site and growing organizations, in particular, can benefit from the scalability of an on-demand, pay-per-user model and how quickly new locations can be up and running.

The Target (News - Alert) Market

collab9 has a national footprint and currently offers its cloud-based services across the U.S. via data centers located in Los Angeles and Chicago. The data centers are fully redundant with complete backup and load balancing to ensure call continuity and applications are always available. collab9’s Network Operations Center promises 7x24x365 support.

Though Cisco HCS can handle hundreds of thousands of users, collab9 is targeting mid-market businesses with 100-2,000 users across multiple locations and can even service smaller businesses with as few as 50 users in some cases. Previously, Cisco HCS was targeted to businesses with 200 users or more, but Cisco and its partners have seen demand coming from smaller organizations and have decided to take HCS a bit lower in the market (down to 100 seats or even to 50 seats as noted above). In addition, for smaller customers, collab9 is looking at lowering the cost of the PSTN or local and long distance charges to make the offer more attractive. This lines up with Cisco’s recent decision to discontinue its small and mid-size businesses (SMB) voice platforms; SMBs with 50-100 employees or more can consider Cisco HCS as an alternative.

Packages and Pricing

collab9 cloud collaboration is currently available nationwide. End-customers can subscribe to one of five (5) packages for varying basic, mid-level and advanced requirements: Voice (V), Voice Plus (V+), Collaboration (C), Collaboration Enhanced (CE) and Collaboration Plus (C+), Each package includes support and maintenance and is offered for 36-, 48- or 60-month terms.

Standard pricing ranges from $15-$25 per user per month, depending on the package. Hardware (phones and routers) are purchased separately. Optional add-ons include Voicemail and Unified Messaging (for V+ and C packages), Softphone and Smartphone Clients (for C and CE packages), Attendant Console, Contact Center (standard, enhanced and premium options), Conferencing (voice, Web, video), Unified Presence (for C, CE, C+ packages) and Enhanced 911 Services. Local and long distance dialing, international dialing, DID, toll-free numbers, number porting and 411/611 services are also extra.

To complement the services, collab9 offers Cisco’s line-up of Unified IP Phones telephones, namely the Cisco 9900 media endpoints with optional video camera, the high-end professional 8900 models, the established 7900 business phone series, the entry-level, energy-efficient 6900 phones and the basic SIP-based 3900 Series. The Collaboration packages (C, CE, C+) support the full range of telephone models.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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