Genband-Sonus merger spotlights real-time communication tools

In UC news this week, Genband and Sonus are set to merge; Polycom and Zoom combine forces; and Genesys updates its contact-center platform with artificial intelligence tools.

Citing complementary product portfolios, Sonus Networks Inc. and Genband have agreed to merge. Sonus, based in Westford, Mass., is known for securing cloud and real-time communication tools. Genband, based in Plano, Texas, is also known for real-time communication tools and offers network transformations and embedded communications.

With the merger, the companies said they would be better positioned to help communication service providers and enterprise customers transition their networks to support IP and cloud-based computing. The transaction, announced this week, is expected to broaden the companies' real-time communication tools and market reach.

Sonus provides cloud-based session initiation protocol, 4G/voice-over LTE services with an emphasis on security. Genband has focused on unified communications (UC) and migrating carrier and enterprise networks to IP. Genband products include soft switches, media gateways and application servers.

Additionally, Genband's communications platform as a service, called Kandy, allows users to embed voice, video and messaging into business applications. Sonus offers a cloud security and analytics platform for real-time communication tools.

The combined company is valued at about $745 million and will have a global sales footprint in 27 countries. The companies' combined 2016 revenue would have been approximately $680 million. Sonus and Genband shareholders will each own about 50% of the combined company.

The transaction, expected to close in the second half of 2017, is another sign of the ongoing vendor consolidation swirling around the UC market. Most recently, Mitel Networks picked up the UC assets of Toshiba.

Polycom and Zoom partner for video collaboration

Video conferencing providers Polycom Inc. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. are teaming up to integrate Polycom endpoints with Zoom software. The companies, both based in San Jose, Calif., announced yesterday the Zoom Connector for Polycom, which combines Zoom's cloud-based video communications with Polycom products.

The partnership helps broaden the products and customers for each vendor by extending Polycom's endpoints and Zoom's cloud video service. Polycom and Zoom customers can have high-definition video meetings in rooms outfitted with Polycom's video conferencing hardware.

Zoom's software will work on Polycom's RealPresence Debut and RealPresence Group Series room systems. Users can meet with internal and external participants on mobile, desktop and other conference room systems. Other features of the Zoom Connector for Polycom include:

  • a single tap to start or join a meeting from a Polycom touchscreen;
  • calendar-based integrations with Outlook, Google Calendar and iCal;
  • native integration with no additional hardware or controller required; and
  • wireless screen sharing.

The partnership helps Polycom and Zoom expand their reach and drive greater adoption of their products, said Ira Weinstein, a senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research. "We view this as a win for both Polycom and Zoom customers," he said in a statement, "and expect to see even stronger integration between these platforms in the future."

Genesys contact-center platform getting AI tools

Contact-center vendor Genesys unveiled new technology this week that blends artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and asynchronous messaging. Genesys, based in Daly City, Calif., announced G-Nine, which builds on the vendor's omnichannel contact-center platform.  

G-Nine, revealed this week at Genesys' North American user conference in Indianapolis, includes several updates to the vendor's contact-center platform. The upcoming G-Nine updates include:

  • "Kate," an AI tool and virtual assistant, provides natural-language understanding, such as using Salesforce Einstein for customer relationship management and IBM Watson for big data, bridging automation with human interaction.
  • IoT technology can determine in real time a certain course of action given the user context, resource availability, customer profile and business attributes.
  • Asynchronous messaging extends contact-center support for customer conversations in channels such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype and WeChat.

Additionally, customers can add their own bots, like those powered by IBM Watson, to Genesys' customer-service platform. The technology blends capabilities with native Genesys AI and machine learning systems to gain a deeper understanding of customer interactions across channels.

Next Steps

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