NEC Develops Across a Broad Technology Spectrum
NEC is forging ahead with innovative solutions that integrate its expertise in a variety of technologies. We are familiar with NEC’s telephony and unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) products and services (voice, messaging, mobility, video, etc.), but the company also develops solutions around emerging information technologies (IT) and identifies three technologies - software defined networking (SDN), data analytics and biometrics – as particularly synergistic to UC&C. By integrating these varying technologies, NEC is creating some unique and forward-looking solutions for businesses today (and tomorrow) in an increasingly digital and increasingly connected world.
NEC is on-target with its vision around the “smart enterprise” that recognizes the value of converged communications and information technologies (ICT) to ensuring efficient, effective and secure operations. It’s true that communications and collaboration are key ingredients in any modern business, but what about the underlying network infrastructure to support these and the data that flows through it? NEC’s SDN enables flexible and real-time network traffic control through a software interface, eliminating the need to manually configure any network hardware devices. NEC’s analytics solutions turn data captured from a communications system or network into valuable metrics and trends that can shed light on a company’s business performance. Biometrics software from NEC for facial detection and facial feature extraction and fingerprint and palm print matching is used in public safety and law enforcement, but also has really interesting use cases in retail, hospitality and other industries.
In-house expertise across a broad spectrum of technologies, along with some strategic partnerships, puts NEC in a good position to address the challenges and requirements of businesses into the future. At the recent NEC Advantage conference in Ponte Vedra, FL, NEC further demonstrated its commitment to ICT, announcing a new division called the “Enterprise Technology Group” that brings together its UC Network and Infrastructure group and its IT Network and Infrastructure group into a single division that will accelerate the development of new, converged technology solutions.
Below we highlight some of NEC’s new and forthcoming ICT innovations that combine its telephony and UC&C products with the company’s SDN, analytics and biometrics technologies.
- NEC’s next generation UT880 desktop telephone combines a traditional desktop phone and an Android tablet into one device designed to enable easy access to NEC’s UC Suite Client with a corporate directory, presence, instant messaging unified messaging and call control. Integrated video cameras enable two-way video conferencing for virtual receptionists, for example, to greet visitors through the display from a remote location. The NEC Marketplace App Store offers three categories of applications that run on the phone: General Market Apps (free basic business tools, communications and entertainment apps), Premium Market Apps (productivity-enhancing apps at no charge under NEC’s Premium Software Assurance program) and Premium Select Market Apps (industry-specific apps such as for hospitality, healthcare and retail verticals purchased through NEC as a license). It is this last category that will include some unique, converged applications such as incorporating NEC’s biometrics solutions (facial recognition) for security purposes or for recognizing priority guests in a retail or hospitality environment. More to come on this emerging solution for the UT880.
- NEC has a new partnership with video communication and collaboration solution provider Vidyo. NEC channel partners will be able to offer NEC-branded room, desk and mobile video collaboration solutions, either on-premises or in the cloud. Moreover, NEC will be integrating the Vidyo technology with its own solutions to create new vertical applications for healthcare, hospitality, education, financial and other industries. NEC is looking to combine Vidyo technology with its biometrics solutions to provide a second level of authentication in point-of-sale scenarios and at ATM machines, or for time and attendance verification in distance learning applications, among other use cases.
- NEC continues to evolve its unified communications as-a-service offering, UNIVERGE BLUE (previously known as NEC UNIVERGE Cloud Services). The company’s focus going forward is on simplification and making it easier for channel partners to position, sell and support the cloud-based offer. The soon-to-be-announced improvements will include a simplified self-service portal (for dealers and end-users), a more dealer-friendly pricing model and new telephone set options (including the UT880) that are more in line with other NEC platforms. What may not be as well known, and what sets NEC apart from many competing UCaaS providers, is that NEC owns the technology from end-to-end. NEC manufactures the UCaaS components, develops the call control software (NEC UNIVERGE 3C software), manages and provisions the Tier 3 geo-redundant data centers, manages a 24x7 Network Operations Center and monitors the MPLS network to identify and avoid QoS issues when transporting voice, data and video.
- NEC has its own servers and storage solutions and has integrated its fault tolerant server (the Express5800 FT) with its voice platforms, including the UNIVERGE SV9500 Communications Server designed for larger enterprises running a VMware virtualized environment. The bundle delivers a single box solution, complete with computing, storage, networking and high availability for mission critical environments, which significantly reduces the complexity associated with typical multi-server deployments. NEC has also developed new SDN-ready controllers that integrate the virtualized UNIVERGE SV9500 and/or UNIVERGE 3C software (benefits include transport efficiencies for high bandwidth functions like video). And, a cloud-based disaster recovery solution that involves NEC’s ExpressCluster software is in the works.
The bottom line is that NEC realizes the value of converged technology solutions for the smart enterprise of tomorrow and is actively developing around this vision. The company’s ICT innovations are already benefiting NEC’s business customers across all industries, and at the same time, helping NEC stand out from other vendors bringing UC&C solutions to market. Stay tuned.