IP - Hive
By Chris Meehan
Last week we posted a side-by-side comparison of entry-level Lync qualified phones by AudioCodes, Polycom and snom, all of which Novus sells. This week we are publishing a comparison of mid-range Lync qualified phones from these developers.
Why are we doing this? At Novus we view one of our responsibilities as helping customers make the best choices. With many Lync qualified phones to choose from, our customers need clarity about which phone has the features and capabilities to meet their business needs.
That’s why we created a comprehensive comparison of all the Lync qualified phones that we sell. It is meant to help customers buy endpoints that are right-sized for them. Choosing the right endpoint is not a trivial decision. Indeed, Lync experts say that choosing the wrong Lync phone can doom a Lync deployment.
Mid-range phones have all the features of basic Lync qualified phones plus a few more bells and whistles (and more flexibility) to satisfy more sophisticated communications demands. For example, Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, presence display and more function keys. 
This is the second of three charts comparing phones from AudioCodes, Polycom and snom. We will compare mid-level phones here, followed by executive-level phones. Entry-level devices were shown in our earlier post.  Our goal is to provide straightforward information to help customers make the best decisions. 

Posted: 9/19/2014 8:44:10 AM by Chris Meehan

By Chris Meehan 

At Novus we view one of our responsibilities as helping customers make the best choices. With many Lync qualified phones to choose from, our customers need clarity about which phone has the features and capabilities to meet their business needs.
That’s why we created a comprehensive comparison of all the Lync qualified phones that we sell. It is meant to help customers buy endpoints that are right-sized for them. Choosing the right endpoint is not a trivial decision. Indeed, Lync experts say that choosing the wrong Lync phone can doom a Lync deployment.
This is the first of three charts comparing phones from AudioCodes, Polycom and snom. We will compare entry-level phones here, followed by mid-range and then executive-level phones. Our goal is to provide straightforward information to help customers make the best decisions. 

Enterprises may not need every feature that these entry-level Lync qualified phones provide. These are basic desktop phones suitable for public areas, warehouses and conference rooms. At the same time, they leverage Lync to enhance workforce productivity and collaboration with features like direct dialing from Lync buddy lists and programmable keys.
Side by side comparisons like this are important decision-making tools for our partner and enterprise customers because they can pick and choose the features that are important to them. Keep in mind, with similar functionality, the way a user performs a particular feature may differ slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Also of particular note should be the firmware version reviewed. 
Next up: a comparison of mid-range AudioCodes, Polycom and snom Lync qualified phones. 
Posted: 9/11/2014 11:21:09 AM by Chris Meehan

By Chris Meehan
In early August, Gartner Group published its “Magic Quadrant” for Unified Communications. The quadrant evaluates and ranks vendors in a particular sector of technology, with the goal of helping enterprise customers understand which providers are executing against their stated vision.
The quadrant breaks providers down into four segments: leaders, visionaries, niche players and challengers. Perhaps not surprisingly, Microsoft Lync and Cisco were deemed leaders of the UC market.
Gartner stated, “Microsoft Lync offers a full suite of UC functionality that Microsoft continues to improve with each release” adding that “the Lync partner ecosystem expanded at a rapid pace [but] more importantly, the partners’ skill level and experience in complex deployments that include voice and video also improved significantly year over year.”
Indeed, that is precisely where Novus is putting its efforts. Over the past year, we have added several Lync qualified products to our already sizable Lync portfolio, have begun building a Lync services business and achieved Microsoft Partner Network Gold Communications Competency.
The latter validates our expertise with Lync and solidifies our ability effectively deliver superior Lync solutions to the marketplace. Novus has been delivering ad-hoc Lync services and solutions but is in the process of formalizing a services business.
Interestingly, Novus addresses one of the “cautions” that Gartner raises regarding Lync.

The report notes that enterprises often require multiple partners to obtain a complete Lync deployment (endpoints, gateways, servers, remote support and network monitoring), that this poses challenges, and can lead to release level incompatibilities.
Novus helps solve this problem and is fast becoming a one-stop shop for Lync, offering IP phones, media gateways, session border controllers, headsets and call center software. This cuts down on the number of distributors that integrators and resellers have to deal with.
Also, as one of the few distributors in North America to earn Gold Communications Competency, we provide service, solutions and competency.
We are gratified to see Microsoft rightly acknowledged by Gartner as a leader in its UC Magic Quadrant, and even more gratified to report that our Lync strategy – providing products and services to drive the market – is right on the money.
Posted: 8/21/2014 1:17:52 PM by Chris Meehan

By Chris Meehan

Sennheiser, the German company whose name is synonymous with premium sound quality, is fast establishing a reputation for super design.

The latest case in point is its new Speakerphone Series, which Novus is now carrying. Its small, round sleek design easily fits into any briefcase and is meant for personal or small group conference calls using a PC, smartphone or tablet.

Two models, the SP 10 ML and SP 20 ML are optimized for Microsoft Lync, and connect to Lync via USB. The SP 20 ML model connects via USB to a PC and to mobile devices via 3.5 mm jack plug. Both are designed for “plug and play” simplicity.

One review concluded that the “Speakerphone Series elevates the one anonymous meeting room phone to the level of ‘must have’ workplace innovation; it shows Sennheiser’s sound heritage and iconic design at its best while making a clear style statement for any office or desk.”

Indeed, the speakerphones represent a leap forward in portable conferencing solutions. They feature call and volume controls, microphone, mute and dual talk function that enables for natural conversation interruption. Where there’s downtime, the speakerphone even has a music function.

Naturally, the speakerphones deliver high definition sound quality to enhance collaboration in and between organizations. In announcing the product, Sennheiser’s CEO noted that, “Microsoft Lync continues to drive innovation across the board to make it easier for people to communicate wherever they are. As a premium headset and UC solutions provider and a Microsoft partners, Sennheiser helps Microsoft Lync users to meet today’s expectations of workplace communications and collaboration.”
Posted: 7/17/2014 7:33:39 AM by Chris Meehan

By Chris Meehan 

Two weeks ago I posted here about Microsoft World Partner Conference, taking place July 13-17 in Washington D.C. Novus will not be exhibiting in an official capacity but several of our partners are displaying their Lync hardware portfolios, which we’d like to highlight here.
Polycom (Booth 228) features a full portfolio of Lync qualified and Lync optimized phones: the SoundPoint and VVX lines, as well as the CX8000 Lync room-based collaboration system.
Sennheiser (Booth 320) is known for premium audio quality and sleek design. The company has a variety of audio products that work with the Lync platform: wired and wireless headsets and wireless speakerphones. 
snom (Booth 220) has a portfolio of IP phones that are Lync qualified, with unique features like Boss/Admin. snom also sells HP Lync optimized phones which have Lync software integrated with the phone.
Novus executives will be at WPC July 13 and 14, educating integrators and value added resellers about our Lync expertise. We are one of the only North American distributors to earn Microsoft Partner Network Gold Communications competency. We are fluent in Lync with voice and are ready to help channel partners make Lync with voice as pervasive in the enterprise as possible.
Contact us if you’d like to learn more about our Lync with voice expertise, and how we can help you deliver world-class Unified Communications capability to your business customers. 
Posted: 7/9/2014 10:45:06 AM by Chris Meehan

By Chris Meehan
2014-WPC.pngWe’ll be in Washington D.C. in mid July for Microsoft’s World Partner Conference, where we’ll be supporting our partners who are exhibiting at the sold-out show, and meeting with resellers.
As one of the select few distributors in the world to achieve Microsoft Partner Network Gold Communications competency, Novus has met Microsoft’s rigorous technical, sales and marketing standards for Lync. Our expertise has been validated by Microsoft, and we enjoy benefits with which to better serve our current and future reseller customers.
The Gold competency indicates that we have demonstrated greater value to our customers by delivering best-in-class capabilities that have been subjected to Microsoft’s rigorous and auditable approval process.
In particular, our expertise lies in Lync with voice, a relatively new discipline, which is part of Microsoft’s overall Lync Unified Communications portfolio. In short, there simply aren’t that many distributors with the broad expertise with Lync with voice to help value added resellers drive Lync further into the enterprise.
We are one of the few.
Lync is a fast growing (now $1 billion) business at Microsoft, and our goal is to expand the base of Lync users by extending our knowledge through the entire channel ecosystem.
The annual WPC event is a global convergence of Microsoft partners and represents Microsoft’s full portfolio of technology and services. This year the company has reduced the number of umbrella “tracks” to five: cloud, big data, mobility and devices, enterprise social and leadership sales and marketing.
We are particularly interested Lync sessions including “The Benefits of Adding Microsoft Lync Voice To Your Portfolio” and “How to Compete and Win with Lync.”

A full list of sessions touching on various aspects of Lync can be found here.
Several of our Lync partners will be exhibiting at WPC. Stop by their booths and check out their innovative communications offerings:
  • Polycom – Booth 228
  • Sennheiser – Booth 320
  • snom – Both 220 
Posted: 6/26/2014 1:10:58 PM by Chris Meehan

By Chris Meehan

In the late 1980s a major technology research firm devised a methodology for determining the true total cost of owning a personal computer. A PC could be had for $1,500, the firm noted, but over a period of years, the true cost could be four or five times as much, as maintenance, downtime, training, testing, management and deployment are factored in.
I think about this every time I see a business customer try to save a few dollars on a VoIP phone by buying from a brick-and-mortar or online retailer. Why? Because the true cost of owning those phones, over time, is sure to be much more than the original price tag. Today’s SIP-based VoIP phones are sophisticated devices, with complex firmware tied into back end systems and applications that drive not only voice but also a range of communications capabilities.
VoIP has been around for years but large-scale enterprise IP voice deployments are a new discipline and require a certain degree of expertise and support that retailers don’t and can’t offer. Let’s face it, there are lots of things that can and do go wrong. Microsoft Lync with voice deployments are even newer and require an even deeper understanding of IP-based voice communications and Lync Server.
I’m always surprised by the number of businesses willing to put at risk such a critical piece of their communications infrastructure.
I’ve seen business customers time and again make the mistake of buying the cheapest VoIP endpoints they can find, from sellers with no voice expertise, only to regret it when something inevitably goes wrong. In those cases, the desperate customer often ends up overpaying for support. 
The bottom line is that enterprise customers and resellers are better served to work with a partner with a deep understanding of IP-based voice communication (including Lync) for mass deployment, provisioning, management and customization of endpoints.
We are here to provide our reseller channel partners with the in-depth support required for today’s increasingly complex VoIP engagements. 
Anyone can sell a phone. We sell expertise, capability, and peace of mind. 
Posted: 6/23/2014 7:49:54 AM by Chris Meehan

By Chris Meehan
We are consistently expanding our portfolio of Lync products in an effort to offer our VAR customers the widest selection of advanced communications capabilities, whatever the needs of their enterprise customers may be.
To that end, we are now selling AudioCodes’ Mediant 9000 Session Border Controller, which was recently certified for Microsoft Lync Server 2013.
With support for up to 16,000 concurrent sessions, the Mediant 9000 is a high scalable SBC for deployment in larger enterprises and contact center locations, and well as an access SBC for service provider environments. It supports extensive SIP connectivity with broad interoperability, enhanced perimeter defense against hacking and advanced voice quality monitoring.
Other features:
  • Support for remote workers and mobile SIP clients
  • Branch survivability during WAN failure
  • VoIP quality monitoring and enforcement
We carry the entire AudioCodes Mediant line, which now serves everything from the SMB market to the largest enterprises and service providers. The Mediant 9000 is also available as a software-only version for common off-the-shelf platforms and for virtualized environments.
Indeed, the growth of hosted services and datacenter centralization is driving demand for high-capacity SBCs like the Mediant 9000.
AudioCodes is one of only a handful of providers with SBCs certified for Lync Server 2013, and one of only two providers with more than five SBC models to serve the needs of a wide range of business needs.
According to some market researchers, the company has “become the go-to player for Microsoft Lync, enabling Microsoft to have a competing market strategy against” competitors in the massive UC market.”
Posted: 6/13/2014 2:28:13 PM by Chris Meehan

By Chris Meehan

We’re happy to publish this case study in which a Midwest company, ECM Publishers, saved tens of thousands and improved productivity (among other major benefits) by switching to VoIP and our partner snom technology’s 720 IP phones.

The company, with $40 million in sales and 17 locations, was driven to examine VoIP because its antiquated phone system was expensive, lacked standardization, had poor voice quality and a very limited feature set. ECM’s Director of IT, Jay Gustafson explains, “We needed to cut costs dramatically, and we needed a dramatic increase in functionality.”

ECM selected the snom 720 for its competitive price but also for its unmatched features, saying that its Gigabit Ethernet capability was one of the deciding factors.

Novus was closely involved in the deployment process and provided support to ECM when needed. The company has already deployed nearly 300 phones, on its way to 450 by year’s end. In addition to the substantial savings on its phone bill (70 percent), ECM discovered that the snom 720 could deliver additional features that weren’t apparent at the outset.

Shared Call Appearance lets workers share SIP lines and provides status of the shared line to all people subscribed, and Busy Lamp Field lets users monitor phones lines of co-workers and opt to pick up on transfer calls to contacts in a directory.

The cost savings has enabled ECM to invest thousands into a long-desired plan to upgrades its network from 100MB to 1 Gigabit switches, providing a huge increase in performance and opening up a world of possibilities (application, services, etc.) for ECM to serve its customers and partners.

In addition to snom, Novus partners with several other SIP-based IP phone developers to offer resellers the broadest range of choices and capabilities.
Posted: 5/28/2014 8:53:29 AM by Chris Meehan

We are now carrying the newest SIP-based IP business phones developed by our partner Aastra, which was purchased by Mitel in November 2013.

The 6800i line features four new phones designed for a diverse set of business requirements. All work with the leading IP voice platforms. The four models include:
  • Aastra 6863i, an entry-level two-line phone with three programmable keys and Aastra’s HD Hi-Q audio
  • Aastra 6865i, a nine-line phone suitable for all-sized businesses. It features eight programmable keys and XML capabilities
  • Aastra 6867i, a nine-line phone which features HD wideband audio for premium sound quality, dual microphones, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and six programmable keys
  • Aastra 6869i, an executive-level phone with 12-lines, 4.3-inch color display, 12 programmable keys and expansion modules including extra programmable keys and a magnetic detachable keyboard
The phones are designed for interoperability with a broad range of leading communications platforms, and support both on-premise and hosted services. This is increasingly important as businesses of all sized migrate their voice infrastructure to the cloud to reduce cost and increase flexibility.

In November, Aastra and Mitel announced that the companies would merge, creating a $1.1 billion (sales) company with a growing cloud business and 60 million global end users.
Posted: 4/10/2014 9:30:00 AM by Chris Meehan

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