Following months of speculation regarding mystery Unified Communications business UCFX, The Channel can exclusively reveal the finer details of the secret start-up.
First reported by The Channel in November last year, UCFX director Brent Colbert sat down over a coffee to offer the inside word on one of the industry's most intriguing business launches.
Can you confirm the existence of UCFX?
Yes I can. In fact the last couple of months Deane Jessep and I have been gearing up to be in market for February and I'm pleased to say we we have our first couple of customer engagements underway.
In fact, partner and customer feedback has been very positive to the idea of a company that solely specialises in Microsoft Unified Communications.
What's the vision for UCFX?
Our aim for UCFX is really simple, and that’s to be the go-to Microsoft Lync specialists in the markets we enter.
There a few reasons why we think now is the right time to establish UCFX in market.
Firstly the 230% growth in Lync seats sold by Microsoft across Australia and New Zealand last year, so really strong growth.
Combine that with a shortage of qualified skills in this area and partners struggling to build capable teams it provides a great opportunity for us to build this capability for them.
The other reason relates to our sister company IPFX who develop UC and Contact Centre Solutions. They have over 2,500 customers across the world and they are seeing increasing demand for their solution to support Microsoft Lync so it made sense to build a specialist company focused on Lync.
Can you confirm who's working for UCFX?
Of the people The Channel has profiled in myself, Deane Jessep, Scott Maynard and Jackie Diep you have been on the money.
Deane, Scott and Jackie are Principal Consultants specialising in the telephony, video conferencing, architecture, design, enterprise voice and LOB integration aspects of deploying Microsoft Lync.
Backing up them is a number of engineers in NZ, Australia and the UK. Unlike your traditional IT engineer who is good at Active Directory, Windows Server and Exchange, we have gone for engineers with strong IP Voice backgrounds, in addition to being Lync certified.
The Enterprise Voice area of Lync is where traditional System Integrators have struggled as they haven't had the necessary IP, Voice and PABX integration experience and we think this is an area where we can differentiate ourselves in the market.
We also think our backgrounds and existing networks at Microsoft, HP, Polycom, PeopleSoft and Oracle is a real advantage when we are helping partners and customers cost, design and deploy a Lync solution inside of their businesses.
What services are you bringing to market?
As you would expect with a specialist, UCFX is looking to provide a full suite of services for Microsoft Lync.
These services range from helping customers plan their roadmap through strategy and planning workshops, to assisting them with their business case development.
Once business case is signed off, we can then design and architecture the solution and then run the requisite pilot's or proof of concepts through to full deployment. Scott with over 30,000 seats of Lync deployed in NZ alone brings a ton of experience to this area.
In terms of training we have a certified Lync Ignite trainer on the team and with engineers in NZ, Australia and the UK we have the ability to complete global rollouts and provide 24x7 support.
Who are you partnering with?
By its very nature, unified communications requires a number of vendors in the mix and our aim is to make it simple for partners and customers to deploy a Microsoft Lync solution. As such we have established a number of partner alliances with the likes of Microsoft, Sonus, Polycom, Jabra, and Plantronics. On the new Lync Room System Products we have also partnered with Smart and Crestron, in addition to Polycom.
Right now were in the final stages of establishing strategic relationships with all the major WAN, PSTN and SIP trunk providers.
Where are you seeing demand?
We're seeing demand across the board, from architecture reviews, helping partners plan 2010 to 2013 upgrades for their customers, helping partners plan their own deployments of Lync through to planning the enterprise voice deployments for customers who are currently only using Lync for IM and presence.
A number of customers are also looking for video conferencing solutions and products such as Lync Room System from the likes of Crestron and Smart we expect will generate a lot of interest this year.
What's next for UCFX?
Locally, continuing to get our name out there and meeting with as many partners and customers as possible, as well as completing some statement of works.
Globally, this week we are working with Microsoft APAC on the hosted model for Lync and one of the team is at the Worldwide Lync Conference in Las Vegas to get a preview of the Lync platform roadmap.
Did the Business Card we found confirm the logo and business card design?
Yes that story did generate a lot of laughs in the team. For the answer to that, book some time with the team and see what card they present!