Verizon Business just announced its Integrated Communications Package (ICP) as part of its VoIP portfolio. As discussed in a post back in May, this Unified Communications service will enable customers of its Hosted IP Centrex service to control their core communication functions from software on their PCs. (See screenshots below.) The functions include accessing voice mail, control incoming and outgoing calls, manage their online presence, send IM, and synchronize contacts and calendars with Outlook and Lotus Notes.
Verizon says the service can be accessed via a Web-based interface, or run in conjunction with a stand-alone desktop client and Microsoft Outlook plug-in. An Administrative Console provides a Web-based tool to the corporate administrator for near real-time service control and management.
Future versions are expected to integrate with Verizon Business’ portfolio of audio, net and video conferencing services and contact center services. The ICP service will be available to all U.S-based Hosted IP Centrex customer starting next month. Verizon expects to take the service abroad later this year.
Mid-size and small companies interested in unified communications should carefully consider the ICP service. The cost of deploying such service is significant. According to a joint-report I developed with Ostermann Research on IM and presence, we found that 49% of companies surveyed labeled deploying IM with telephony as "too expensive," the second biggest reason for not deploying the two technologies. A hosted model can reduce those costs, particularly deployment costs.
That's the good new. The bad news is that organizations will want to double check that Verizon delivers the necessary auditing and logging features required to meet regulatory and privacy concerns, along with the security features to protect those logs. At last check, auditing was still absent from the service offering.