Winners of 2019 Unified Communications TMC Labs Innovation Awards Named

By TMCnet News  |  March 02, 2020

We are thrilled to present the 2019 winners of the TMC (News - Alert) Labs UC Innovation awards.  We have representatives from a range of companies worthy of consideration. Nectar Services Corp. has been focused on VoIP and UC quality for many years and its Nectar 10 solution is at the pinnacle of the market. Metaswitch Networks MaX UC is a great solution for carriers wanting to provide businesses with mobile-communications solutions which can exceed the functionality of OTT apps. PGi has an amazing UCaaS solution that is novel because it comes from a collaboration company, meaning, it has a solid network in place and includes features which traditional UCaaS solutions can’t emulate. Avaya has a full-featured containerized UCaaS solution that works on Google (News - Alert) Cloud.

This is a tight list of diverse winners who truly embody best-in-breed solutions.

Avaya

Powered By Avaya IX

Powered By Avaya IX is a new cloud-native, Unified Communications (News - Alert)-as-a-Service solution running on the Google Cloud Platform to help customers of all sizes, including SMBs, more fully leverage the flexibility, efficiency and scalability of cloud. Powered By Avaya IX provides a customizable, just-in-time cloud communications infrastructure that allows partners to achieve significant cost-reduction with the capability to provision services for their customers at cloud speed. Building on its strategic integration with Google Cloud, this is the deployment platform for Powered By Avaya IX, providing cost benefits through this highly resilient and scalable solution.

The customer’s premises would include hard/soft clients and phones, and a router for network connectivity. All other elements and software are hosted in Google Cloud including security, network connectivity, a data repository and orchestration and management.

The Powered By Avaya IX UCaaS solution combines the benefits of:

  • A fully featured unified communications platform, backed by years of development and refinement with an installed base of over 650,000 businesses (Avaya IP Office), implemented with leading edge containerized architecture that provides a unique virtual instance as a Linux Docker thread of execution with a set of customer-specific data;
  • A global partner network able to propose, install, manage and provide Tier 1 and 2 support for customers in over 20 countries (with market expansion continuing on a quarterly basis);
  • The resiliency, security, scalability and flexibility of the Google Cloud hosting environment, implemented in a fashion that allows the partner to focus on the customer, while Avaya manages and maintains the hosting environment relationship with Google Cloud.

Each customer’s Avaya IP Office virtual instance is a Linux Docker thread of execution with a set of customer-specific data. This virtual instance is an Avaya IP Office system with voicemail and automated attendant services. Control of the customer virtual instances is done via a third-party open source component called Kubernetes and monitoring is provided by Stackdriver. The Google Cloud Platform provides the persistent data, internal/external networking and other infrastructure. Customer virtual instances are created via Kubernetes API calls from the Avaya One Source Cloud (A1S) ordering system (Avaya’s Cloud Storefront).

Each customer virtual instance is comprised of an Avaya IP Office server a persistent volume containing the customer-specific data such as configuration, voicemails, music-on-hold files etc, and a common set of read-only files such as phone binaries and language prompts. Combined with the virtual customer instance are several common components providing the support and infrastructure.

Avaya provided components include:

  • Certificate Agent Service (CAS) enforces security and provides public certificates.
  • Cluster Store Interface (CSI) receives store orders and invokes Google Cloud and Kubernetes APIs. It also audits the entitlements (subscriptions).
  • Cloud Operations Manager (COM) provides a customer administration portal.
  • Voice Recording Library support is provided by the Container Media Manager (CMM) service.
  • To assist in the resolution of customer virtual instance issues, a Cloud Diagnostic Agent (CDA) service provides a central resource for the storage, collation and retrieval of SysMonitor logging.

Google provided components include:

  • Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) for container orchestration and management,
  • Google Compute Engine (GCE) for platforms, node pools, firewalls and external routing,
  • Google Container Registry (GCR) provides a secure and reliable container repository, and
  • Google Cloud Storage (GCS) for data persistence.

The Avaya DevOps team is responsible for creating and maintaining the hosting infrastructure in the Google Cloud for this service. This means Powered By Avaya IX partners do not need extensive technical knowledge in either the Avaya or Google solution components described above. When Avaya creates a Partner deployment in the Google Cloud Platform, a Primary and Alternate Region will be chosen. The Primary should be closest geographically to expected customer base and alternate region is used for backup data for the partner deployment. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offers connections to services from 134 locations and this help alleviate QoS fears for large numbers of users, or users outside the deployment region.

We chose Avaya Powered By IX as a 2019 UC TMC Labs Innovation Award winner due to its partnership with Google Cloud to empower Avaya solutions with microservices and containerization, taking a true cloud foundation design approach in its solutions. This advances multiple cloud deployment options for businesses, delivering the benefits of cloud solutions while avoiding the one-size-fits-all limitation offered by some other providers. Powered By Avaya IX gives SMBs an attractive cloud communications option with many of the capabilities, features and benefits previously associated with larger enterprise offerings. This new offer is branded by partners and accelerates the opportunities to expand the market with a robust, secure and reliable communications platform. Partners can leverage Avaya’s popular communication offer deployed in the Google Cloud, without the need to invest in and support their own infrastructure, providing an attractive option over competing cloud offers.

Finally, the solution is based on IP Office Release 11.X and includes full integration with Avaya IX Workplace, Avaya IX Meetings, and Avaya IX Collaboration, providing a complete unified communications solution including conferencing, mobility and team collaboration. Customers have the ability to mix and match their license entitlements to meet the specific needs of individual workers and can easily add capacity or upgrade user entitlements as required.

Metaswitch Networks

MaX UC

Traditional carriers have been forced down the dumb pipe road while customers rely on OTT apps to solve many of their advanced communications and collaboration problems. Metaswitch recognized this problem and opportunity many years ago and has a solution to bridge the gap.

MaX by Metaswitch, a mobile native, carrier-grade group communications platform enables mobile network operators to blend the native dialer of the smartphone with network-based voice and messaging services, multiple personas, unified communications and collaboration, and simple options for users to set up, manage and control the experience from their mobile devices.

MaX UC is based on Metaswitch’s existing rich UC platform that is widely deployed by communications service providers and is used by tens of millions of enterprise workers today. As such, the solution seamlessly integrates full desktop UC and hosted PBX capability with the mobile native user experience.

The MaX family differentiates by using advanced network-based intelligence to handle the complexities of multi-persona routing and ID presentation from inside the network, dramatically simplifying and streamlining the user experience. This means personal and business calls can be handled independently.

MaX by Metaswitch is a great answer to the mobile unified communications challenge. By striking the right balance between ease-of-use and extensive UC functionality for mobile devices, the application helps service providers fill a gap in the market for high-quality mobile UC services that business users eagerly need.

Mobile is the primary form of communications for many business users, especially those who work for small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or are independent prosumers. But more times than not, business users cannot enjoy the same UC features when outside the office, away from their desk phones and on their smart devices. The experience is poor, which is why mobile UC take-up remains low.

MaX was designed to be mobile. This carrier-grade group communications platform allows mobile network operators to blend the smartphone’s native dialer with network-based voice and messaging services, multi-personas, unified communications and collaboration features together with a simple management system. The result is a unique, easy-to-use, high-quality mobile UC experience that mobile operators can offer to business customers. For businesses, a mobile workforce challenges them to maximize productivity, customer service and compliance with regulatory and IT security policies.

Users are dissatisfied with the best-effort quality and cumbersome mobile user experience of under-utilized, unintegrated UC and messaging apps as opposed to the simplicity of the native dialer applications and high quality of cellular voice.

Other similar solutions lack robust group communication features and have no network-based intelligence for identity management.  Additionally, other products are confined to one specific service provider, which cannot be easily replicated in any other network and cannot be delivered without replacing all the IMS core network components, a costly upgrade at best. Similar solutions lack credible HPBX & UC capabilities required by all but the very smallest businesses and robust desktop environment support.

Mobile service providers are in a unique position to capitalize on these trends with MaX UC, a new breed of UC platform, targeting the lucrative business market. The solution is easily deployed in operator networks and enables them to grow revenue and differentiate their offering vs over-the-top (OTT) messaging, voice and UC solutions by leveraging their network assets.

We selected the MaX portfolio by Metaswitch as a 2019 UC TMC Labs Innovation Award winner due to its unique attributes as a communications and collaboration product family. It combines carrier-grade voice, network intelligence, and smartphone native-dialer capabilities with feature packaging for individuals (MaX One) and mobile micro-businesses (MaX Micro). With MaX UC, enterprises can enjoy a true mobile-native unified communication and collaboration experience. 

Nectar Services Corp.

Nectar 10

Businesses are experiencing a golden era of collaboration with new platforms, vendors and technology fueling new scenarios for end users. However, for IT support and operations teams, this new era introduces new challenges for managing and supporting the critical workloads of voice and video.

Nectar is at the forefront of era of collaboration with its Nectar 10 platform. Nectar 10 is a powerful and easy-to-use performance management, monitoring, diagnostics and reporting platform. The solution is purpose-built for the unique characteristics of modern voice, video and real-time collaboration applications, and enables enterprise businesses and managed service providers to harness the power of the cloud to streamline the management of modern communications applications and services, and ensure optimal user and customer experiences.

Traditional solutions for monitoring communications platforms and networks, including Cisco, Microsoft, and Avaya, feature broad and generic toolsets that can be used for any number of different IT workloads, leaving support for critical voice and video applications as an afterthought. Nectar 10 is purpose-built for the unique, session-based nature of voice, video and real-time collaboration services, addressing the specific needs of IT operations teams responsible for managing the user experience across these communications environments.

Nectar 10 correlates metrics and calculated insights across platform, network and endpoint health domains, to provide businesses with actionable intelligence that leads to more efficient management of voice, video and collaboration environments. The solution features an entirely new, intuitive user interface that makes it easy to use across the entire enterprise. Nectar continues to take an open, vendor-agnostic approach to its solutions, enabling businesses to future-proof their networks and support multi-vendor UC environments today and as their networks grow. 

In addition to the uptick in collaboration-based solutions, voice and video workloads are shifting from traditional premises-based platforms to hybrid and cloud-based solutions. Even organizations that are not moving to public cloud services still want cloud-like efficiency and ease of operations. Nectar 10 is ready to deliver, as it is built with cloud-first architecture, making it best-in-breed at enabling hybrid, private and public cloud deployment scenarios.

Nectar 10 is also built for simplicity, offering an intuitive design that allows everyone, from Tier 1 support to advanced power users to executive leadership, to quickly find the data and insights they need to get the job done.

In most deployments, Nectar’s solution includes both a cloud component and an edge component, the latter of which sits in the customer’s datacenter. The edge computing component is referred to as the Nectar Remote Intelligence Gateway (News - Alert) (aka RIG). The RIG collects data from the target systems (the systems Nectar is monitoring) and normalizes that data before aggregating it and forwarding it to the Nectar Central Correlation Engine (aka CCE) which is hosted in the Nectar Cloud. A single enterprise deployment may have multiple RIGs depending on the topology of the customer’s network. The RIG utilizes a variety of technologies to collect telemetry from the target systems. These can include SNMP, Remote PowerShell, APIs and OLAP or other database queries. The edge computing model enabled by the RIG is well suited to this variety since all of those different collection methods include a variety of access control and encryption methods. Since the RIG can navigate those behind the firewall, this helps maintain a more secure environment. When the RIG sends the aggregated data to the CCE, that connection is secured using standard web encryption technologies. 

We chose Nectar 10 as a 2019 UC TMC Labs Innovation Award winner due to its rapid ROI and its ability to correlate metrics and calculated insights across platform, network and endpoint health domains to provide businesses with actionable intelligence that leads to more efficient management of voice, video and collaboration environments. The solution features an entirely new, intuitive user interface that makes it easy to use across the entire enterprise. Nectar continues to take an open, vendor-agnostic approach to its solutions, enabling businesses to future-proof their networks and support multi-vendor UC environments today and as their networks grow.

PGi

GlobalMeet

PGi is the first collaboration-centric provider to enable the new generation of business communications with GlobalMeet. GlobalMeet’s UC capabilities include enterprise-grade voice, a cloud-based business phone system supporting both traditional desk phones and mobile smartphones, text messaging, chat, scheduling, high definition group video and online collaboration.

Provided in the cloud using IP technology, the features of GlobalMeet include:

  • Simplify and unify end-users’ experience over one intuitive platform;
  • Improve productivity and efficiency by helping users manage their priorities, giving back time to their days;
  • Deliver customer service excellence with dedicated implementation and training to promote high user adoption;
  • Provide customization to meet an organization’s unique needs;
  • Offer multi-model, in-product support in 12 languages with the capability to bring a support specialist into the meeting room;
  • Lower the total costs of collaboration and communications for our customers by reducing legacy communications spend and replacing current communications systems that lack critical capabilities. Instead of paying for costly updates to an outdated system, we provide cloud migration and an easy upgrade path to deliver more value to our customers.

Information workers waste an inordinate amount of time orchestrating work rather than doing work. Instead of creating new content to drive our businesses, organizations and missions forward, we spend time looking for information and people, rather than connecting and coordinating them to ensure good decisions are made or that other people can do their jobs. Modern work can be terribly inefficient and not built for the modern worker.

GlobalMeet is specifically designed to make the user more efficient and give them time back to their day to focus on their priorities. The solution:

  • Reminds you of your action items from previous meetings;
  • Delivers a prioritized summary of action items, not just a recent activity list, based on priority logic;
  • Augments the priority logic with AI to look for patterns the user may not know exist (You normally have a brief conversation with Pat before the exec call – Call him now?);
  • Helps you prepare for a meeting by finding relevant emails or data from your last chat conversation;
  • Finds the best time for you meet again, before your meeting ends.

GlobalMeet connects people around the world and enables better productivity, more flexibility and empowers global, digital workers to get more done anywhere, at any time, from any device.

PGi leverages its carrier-grade, global voice network on which its collaboration services are built to deliver enterprise-quality voice communications with a great customer and user experience. GlobalMeet’s UC customers receive cloud voice services and business messaging capabilities. GlobalMeet can replace existing PBXs and other phone systems and consolidate their business communications and collaboration services onto a single, unified solution and user experience. GlobalMeet offers a full-range of hardware options, including enterprise desk phones, conference room phones and analog telephony adapters with purchase and rental options available. it also offers the option to connect with SD-WAN that ensures enterprise quality of service voice connectivity with privacy and control.

Understanding online meetings can be cumbersome, especially with increasing numbers of remote workers. PGi makes it easier for people, teams and enterprises to connect with GlobalMeet. PGi is the first collaboration-centric provider to enable the new generation of business communications with GlobalMeet’s UC capabilities with next-gen productivity features with expanded smart collaboration capabilities using AI to help users save time and improve productivity through automation. Smart collaboration is its way of using data and AI to create insights and recommendations, enabling users to save time.

GlobalMeet US is one of the first in the industry to put the entire, full technology stack in the public cloud as a cloud-native architecture. While others may use the public cloud for a portion of their platforms, the benefits of the public cloud are muted when the entire architecture is not based in the public cloud. The GlobalMeet platform began proving cloud latency and robustness ready for voice with conferencing years ago. This solid foundation enabled it to accelerate time to market with UCaaS services for GlobalMeet. 

As a result, GlobalMeet has achieved superior reliability with cloud-native resiliency. It delivers multi-regional redundancy in geographically dispersed locations with multiple data centers utilized in each region in an Active/Active/Active configuration. A global service availability aware and latency-based routing system supports a true multi-master architecture designed to survive component, datacenter and complete regional failures.

The multi-region network is highly optimized and built for scale and quality for connecting regions and multiple data centers.  Calls and clients are dynamically routed based on low latency for optimal quality. Cost-effective voice ready performance eliminates requirements for PSTN backup service and redundant equipment at customer location.

The solution includes catastrophic disaster protection, including three distinct geographies and six physical buildings, each with its own media gateways, SIP gateways, applications and data store. This allows for a graceful failover in the event of a failure. There is also quality-based zone selection, and lowest-latency route prioritization. For the end user, the cloud-based architecture and disaster protection ensure a seamless user and device experience during failure, where existing calls disconnect and devices immediately and automatically re-register within minutes with calls redialed by user routes to entirely new operational zone, based on lowest latency at that time.

SD-WAN is the access method PGi recommends customers use to access the cloud for GlobalMeet, as it a high-quality, secure, scalable and reliable connection provided over widely available, flexible Internet access at a cost-effective price. In addition, PGi offers a full range of hardware options to support GlobalMeet, including enterprise desk phones, conference room phones and analog telephony adapters to meet the needs of all knowledge workers in enterprises.

Other benefits include:

  • Enterprise quality of service connectivity using SD-WAN
  • Voice quality with privacy and control
  • Cost-effective QoS over any network, including public Internet and 4G LTE (News - Alert)
  • Real-time prioritization to optimize application performance without the cost of a private network
  • Automatic failovers with multiple network connections
  • Global scalability and flexibility

PGi offers a compelling combination of an established global network, a strong customer roster – including enterprises of every size – and a team of support professionals with experience supporting challenging production environments. These attributes have earned PGi the loyalty of countless customers around the world. 

We chose the GlobalMeet platform as a 2019 UC TMC Labs Innovation Award winner due to its robust PBX feature set, uniform solution for multi-locations and monthly pricing vs. having to purchase new equipment, as well as the following features:

  • High-definition video, audio and web meetings
  • Instant meeting access from any device, anytime
  • One-touch meeting start and join, with recently joined
  • File, screen, app and webcam sharing
  • In-meeting multimodal support capability
  • Video room integration
  • Seamless desktop and mobile apps
  • Personal meeting rooms
  • An intuitive, user-centered design
  • Combined collaboration, telephony and SMS with a single, clean easy-to-use intuitive interface, softphone for remote workers, and browser-based collaboration as well as the prioritization and productivity stacking of messages and 24x7x365 client support
  • Active Directory Integrations with Office 365 deliver calendar awareness; Meeting hosts quit wasting time by identifying who is in a meeting and managing absent participants more efficiently.
  • To keep teams working on next steps after a meeting ends, recording reminders appear to capture complex content and help hosts send recordings after a meeting takes place.
  • Instead of listening or viewing a full meeting replay, live transcripts and meeting summaries allow viewers to quickly scan the content of a meeting for anything they may have missed.
  • The GlobalMeet widget addresses the epidemic of multi-tasking during meetings and allows access to key features and functionality even if the GlobalMeet screen is minimized while users work on other items during a meeting.



Edited by Erik Linask