Level 3 Communications is greasing the wheels of enterprises' digital transformations with Tuesday's debut of a new unified communications offering with Amazon Web Service, dubbed Chime.
Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) first announced its Amazon Chime unified communications service in February. By partnering with Amazon Chime, which is hosted in the AWS cloud, Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), can provide medium and large enterprises with end-to-end video, audio, screen sharing and messaging services.
While there's a plethora of video conferencing services from vendors large and small, including Cisco, WebEx and Microsoft, Anthony Christie, chief marketing officer for Level 3, said the big differentiator for Amazon Chime Delivered by Level 3 was the pay-as-you-go pricing model.
"This is a disruptive offer on a number of fronts," Christie said. "One of the things that our clients are telling us is very appealing is that this really is a pay-as-you-go, or pay-as-you consume, model. It's a pay per fee licensing agreement so if an enterprise or group isn't using it that month they don't pay for it. There are no upfront commitments. There's no upfront equipment that they need to purchase, or software that they need to purchase."
The Amazon Chime service, which is currently available to Level 3 customers in North America and EMEA, comes with Level 3's global service level agreement. Level 3 meets with the enterprise customers before the service is turned on to find out what their requirements are. Amazon Chime's client can be downloaded onto various Android or Apple devices, as well as an H.323 video conferencing room.
"We'll pull together our recommendation for the solution with respect to not just the number of seats that are necessary but the networking components of that solution as well," Christie said. "We'll look at their PSTN, their broadband, their 800 numbers and things like that, and then we will deliver that integrated bundle to our enterprise customers. We will service and support that and give them one bill at the end of each billing cycle."
Christie said that Level 3 has been offering collaborative services for 12 or 13 years, and that Level 3 is one of the most-connected AWS direct connect partners.
In addition to Level 3, Vonage also has a deal in place with AWS for an Amazon Chime offering in North America. Christie said that while Level 3's Chime service was geared towards medium and large enterprises, Vonage's sweet spot was more along the lines of small-to-medium-sized enterprises.
"The medium-to-large enterprise space would typically require a higher-touch approach," Christie said. "What Level 3 brings to the table is an end to end managed solution and an account team experienced in cloud collaboration."
Along the same lines, Christie said that Citrix's GoToMeeting conferencing service was more for SMBs and SMEs versus the enterprise grade of Level 3's Amazon Chime offering.
Christie said that by offering a cloud-based service it's easier to add devices or provide the latest updates.
"One of the things we hear over and over again is that it's very hard to keep a collaboration environment homogenous for any period of time," Christie said. "So even though an IT department might have a collaboration solution across the enterprise, as soon as there are changes -- they add people, a building closes, they buy a company -- the homogeneity of the solution changes. With a cloud-based solution you're always getting the latest version of the app."
While unified communications services had a somewhat humble beginning as incremental revenues for service providers, they have blossomed into "must have" services for IT departments. After reaching $35 billion in 2015, the unified communications market is forecast to reach $96 billion by 2023 with a projected CAGR of 13% from last year to 2023, according to Global Market Insights.
One of the trends for unified communications is the integration of the features and applications onto a single platform. Christie said Level 3 was working on adding Amazon Chime into its SIP and Cloud Connect portfolios.
"We fully expect to continue to harden this Amazon Chime offer into the rest of our portfolio," Christie said. "This is what enterprises are buying from us and we want them to be able to consume this independent of what the underlying Level 3 network is."
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation