Summary: CallTower a leading provider of cloud-based enterprise-class unified communications solutions recently invited CNSG a premier master agency for Connectivity, Cloud and Cloud enablement to discussed how Converged is Converged enough for SMB, whether or not SMBs today want their IT, phone equipment and carrier services delivered by a single solution provider on a single bill with a single help-desk - a proverbial "business technology triple play" - why or why not?
Mr. Niroo: The days of the bundled solution, single invoice is not as relevant now because of such a diverse product landscape. The majority of providers have a network, cloud telephony, and cloud play or partnership under one umbrella. I believe sourcing the best of breed solutions like CallTower with responsibility associated to cost and vendors’ capabilities is the preferred procurement model for our client base.
CallTower: While those who provide a seamless triple-play insist it's the only play for every business, in your experience what percentage and/or what type of SMB is perfectly comfortable with what kind of double play?
Mr. Niroo: I believe TDM based PRI/analog voice handoff with voice is still preferred but in today’s environment in a single or multi-site MPLS design it’s easier to pile on voice services. Nonprofits, associations, law firms all tend to have multiple locations. The retail space also has a need for simplicity in vendor selection.
CallTower: CNSG work’s with many O365 solution providers who are choosing double and triple play vendors to go to market with. What are some of the vendor combinations that are most popular and what kinds of end-users and partners are the different vendor combinations most appealing to?
Mr. Niroo: We have found a lot of IT/MSP partners who have or are in the process of onboarding their current client base to Office 365 as a natural fit to CallTower’s platform. The Lync/Skype for Business capabilities that are cloud based, and require no hardware or professional services also provide that clean plug in to a voice enabled collaborative environment in the workspace. It’s a natural fit and has been very attractive amongst my partners.
CallTower: Some prognosticators say that at some point Comcast and AT&T will take over the ultra-small SMB market for all IT, phone & carrier services by drop shipping a black box and then remote managing everything. Do you believe that all MSPs will eventually be crushed by Comcast & AT&T or is there some sweet spot in the SMB market that's safe and if so what part?
Mr. Niroo: The managed service providers I know provide task and functionalities that the 800 lb. gorilla seemingly cannot provide. IT/MSP services need consultative, skills, live bodies for help desk and break- fix needs, on top of a cloud based solution. Some of those services such as IaaS, DR/DRaaS, compute or storage can be provided by a cloud provider like an Azure/AWS, Rackspace data pipe, etc., however the SMB is a market space that will always require immediate attention and responsiveness. I don’t believe that MSP’s will become obsolete in the near future. CallTower has a uniquely designed program built to compliment the MSP offering rather than replace them. This offering is very attractive to my MSP partners.
CallTower: We offer an innovative and compelling best of breed (Cisco and Microsoft) solution in Unified Communications that allows organizations to stay connected through Presence, a feature that allows instant visibility. Can you please elucidate how our solution/s offers value differentiation to CNSG supplier portfolio of carriers, cloud and IP infrastructure services?
Mr. Niroo: The relationship with Microsoft and Lync now Skype for Business adoption truly is a large differentiator for CallTower. Being able to remove Cisco SmartNet costs from legacy Cisco hardware and immediately take a customer to the latest Cisco CUCM Call Manger version ex: 10.5 is a main differentiator. The Cisco platform is skinny based and functions as a true PBX product with Lync/Skype for business Integration capabilities. In fact, if a client has already fully adopted Office 365 or Microsoft Skype for Business the CallTower solution becomes very attractive from a cost perspective. CallTower has the ability to integrate the E3 and E4 O365 licenses with their Cisco platform as well as providing Skype for Business as a hosted PBX. This flexibility is unparalleled in the industry.
CallTower: Your clients depend on CNSG supplier’s portfolio solutions that meet their existing and future business requirements. With such a large pool of vendors to choose from, what are the differentiators that set CallTower apart to provide you the confidence to recommend CallTower to your clients?
Mr. Niroo: CallTower has the ability to be an over the top Skype for Business application provider. Skype for Business is built to run over the public internet, however with handsome network peering carrier agreements, you can effectively deliver a world class, business grade cloud telephony solution.
Another key differentiator is CallTower’s Cisco CallManager “CUCM” in the cloud with new phones, or the ability to flash existing non end of life hardware and update to the latest version with a plug and play Lync/Skype for Business integration. Very attractive and rarely is the conversation not engaging.
CallTower: As the price of storage and bandwidth continues to drop fast, Cloud based services are becoming more and more attractive to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) which are seeking to reduce licensing costs, avoid recruiting IT staff and focus fully on their core responsibility – growing the business. What are your thoughts on the current landscape of prem based vs. hosted and where you sees it being in 3 years?
Mr. Niroo: The pace has grown faster than I imagined. Cloud telephony is becoming the growing purchasing model that is preferred. More than 90% of companies now use Software as a service (SaaS) applications, according to the Nemertes 2013-14 Enterprise Technology Benchmark. Storage and server virtualization has become more appealing in the last 12 months. As a result the jump has not been as feared as it was a few years ago. During next 3 years we will see a dent in hardware sales if the present is an indicator.
CallTower: Would you like to highlight history insight about the best of CNCG and CallTower’s business wins?
Mr. Niroo: All have been very different, from the small business looking for a basic hosted PBX telephony solution and no onboarding of bells and whistles, to very complicated Cisco and Microsoft designs. This flexibility to provide so many platforms has been a very attractive proposition for CNSG clients working with CallTower. Clients are diverse, every opportunity is different and CallTower’s offering provides CNSG with the flexibility of a portfolio of multiple platforms and not being stuck with a single focused offering.