Alcatel-Lucent to target enterprise UC market

Alcatel-Lucent signs collaboration agreement with OTT unified comms firm Counterpath to target enterprise and operator customers

Alcatel-Lucent has signed a collaboration agreement with over-the-top (OTT) unified communications (UC) systems supplier CounterPath to add new user interface (UI) features to its existing Rapport enterprise UC and collaboration platform.

The agreement will see CounterPath’s Bria softphone client and Stretto platform added to the mix to empower enterprise customers with customisable, open comms and collaboration capabilities, tailored for line-of-business segments keen to cap their legacy network spend.

Alcatel-Lucent will also offer CounterPath’s software development kits to large enterprises that need to take into account custom apps or services.

The two businesses claimed they would be able to offer enhanced comms services across virtually any network, device or app, from home-workers to offices, callcentres and retail outlets.

Alcatel-Lucent communications and collaboration business unit president Fran Heeran said: “Enterprises today are struggling with legacy communications infrastructures that are expensive to manage, run in silos, tied to specific vendors and stifle innovation.

“Rapport is a robust, scalable platform that shifts the focus to service innovation through an apps-first approach, allowing the rapid development and launch of new web-based services and mobile applications, while at the same time capping costly telecom network silo spending.

"This transforms enterprise communications into a valuable corporate asset that can be leveraged across all line-of-business applications," he added.

A number of pilot customers have already taken the bait, said CounterPath, in verticals including manufacturing, banking and healthcare, although the company was unable to name names.

Skype for Business beater?

CounterPath European vice-president of marketing and products Todd Carothers said the combined system would be of interest to enterprises keen to adapt to open standards and forge a path away from UC heavy-hitters such as Microsoft, which is currently in the process of transitioning customers from its old UC platform, Lync, to its replacement Skype for Business.

Read more about UCC

“From CounterPath's point of view, the solution is based on open standards that enables other services to interact with Rapport and CounterPath. Microsoft does not support open standards to enable something similar. This means enterprises can overlay other offerings in conjunction with Rapport/CounterPath,” he told Computer Weekly.

“The solution leverages essential call features at a fraction of the price as compared with Cisco, Microsoft and other traditional providers. This enables significant cost savings without giving up value,” he added.

The system will also provide a common user experience across various devices and operating systems, and could in fact enhance Skype for Business deployments, protecting previous investments, said Carothers.

With Alcatel-Lucent currently in the process of being acquired by Finnish networking supplier Nokia, Carothers added that he was not aware of any specifics that would impact the future of the relationship.

“However, the collaboration addresses the same gaps Alcatel-Lucent had within Nokia, so in many ways I believe it can accelerate the collaboration, helping to compete with rival Ericsson's enterprise offerings,” he explained.

Read more on Unified communications