Building on an existing foundation as a provider of voice and hosted PBX services, cloud application vendor Intermedia has rolled out a new unified communications-as-a-service solution equipped with an extensive array of tightly linked collaboration and administration features.
Called Unite and available immediately in the U.S., the system marries VoIP services and an all-new cloud PBX platform with screen sharing, webinar, and high-definition videoconferencing functionality from AnyMeeting, the Irvine, Calif.-based online collaboration company Intermedia bought last September.
Unite also includes Mountain View, Calif.-based Intermedia’s SecuriSync file sync and share application and an endpoint backup service, as well as an all-new mobile app with visual voicemail and call history capabilities among other features, and an also new desktop app that lets PCs function like remote controls for associated desk phones.
Though several of those components were available separately before, and remain so now, Unite brings them together in a single, seamless application, according to Intermedia CEO Mike Gold.
“It’s a tight integration of all of these things in one experience,” he says.
The system integrates with Microsoft Active Directory implementations as well. “If you’re using a third-party Active Directory, we can easily talk to that, so users just get sucked right in,” says Mark Sher, Intermedia’s vice president of unified communications product and marketing.
Though Unite’s cloud PBX technology is entirely new, the system draws on the same network and support resources as Intermedia’s earlier voice products, and is backed by the same “five nines” SLA, Sher adds.
Unite is available both in a base SKU and a Pro edition with extra collaboration and file storage capacity. Pricing on the base version, Sher emphasizes, is the same as Intermedia’s former hosted PBX system, despite all of the additional functionality.
“We’ve really stepped up the product very considerably, and you’re getting it for the same price as our cloud PBX,” he says.
Both editions are priced on a per user, per month basis and don’t require contracts.
According to Sher, Unite’s robust feature set and underpinnings make it a more appropriate fit for larger businesses than its earlier, PBX-only offering.
“The older cloud PBX solution was really targeted to that under-20 [user] business,” he says, noting that while companies in that size range were the first to embrace VoIP broadly, larger organizations are adopting IP-based voice services in growing numbers as well. Unite, which targets organizations with up to 100 users, arms channel pros to go after those bigger accounts.
“We’re going to enable them to sell further upmarket, sell larger opportunities, because that’s where the market is moving,” Sher says.
As businesses at the upper end of the SMB spectrum tend to have more sophisticated administrative requirements than smaller businesses, Intermedia has added a wide range of management and configuration options for Unite to its HostPilot control panel.
“If you want to really go in and customize things, it’s all there,” Sher says.
HostPilot also provides access to detailed reporting, in aggregate and for individual users, on metrics like inbound and outbound call volumes, average hold time, average talk time, and more.
A new web portal rolled out alongside Unite includes functions new to Intermedia’s legacy cloud PBX resellers, including a quoting system that lets users who specify service quantities, prices, add-ons, and fees quickly calculate a single all-encompassing rate inclusive of their customer’s state and local taxes.
The portal also includes a self-serve ordering tool that lets partners add phones and services to existing deployments. Those are tasks that required assistance from Intermedia in the past.
Though Intermedia has long sold Office 365 and hosted Exchange services, Sher describes Unite as a complement to, rather than replacement for those solutions.
“Unite is very focused on both voice and communications and collaborations” for businesses, Sher says. “Office 365 can do a great job of handling their email and their other business applications, so there’s no reason that you can’t have both.”
Intermedia has been providing cloud PBX services since 2013, when it acquired Telanetix Inc. and its AccessLine carrier-grade network division. Unite positions the company to compete in the fast-growing UCaaS market as well. Frost & Sullivan expects sales of hosted internet protocol telephony and UCaaS solutions in North America to expand at double-digit rates through 2023 to $14.83 billion.
“We just wanted to overall improve the product that we’re delivering [and] to bring it into a place where it is even more competitive with companies like RingCentral,” Gold says, alluding to RingCentral Inc., of San Mateo, Calif.
Gold cites 8×8 and Vonage as top competitors in the UCaaS space too. Unlike Intermedia though, he continues, all three companies utilize third-party videoconferencing and file sync and share software in their offerings.
“There’s limitations to how tight that user experience is,” Gold remarks, adding that Intermedia also supports white labeling and puts resellers in complete control of margins, billing, and customer communication.
“We’re in the background supporting the partner,” he says.