Dean Manzoori of Masergy Discusses Global Hybrid UCaaS Delivery with the BCStrategies Team

26 Sep 2018

In this Executive Insights podcast, BCStrategies welcomes Dean Manzoori VP, Global Cloud Communication, Masergy, to discuss global delivery of hybrid UCaaS. Topics include the migration process, challenges of existing premise equipment, expansion scenarios, risk management and risk mitigation, and real-world applications. Jim Burton moderates the discussion, with Melissa Swartz, Nicolas Kouchkovsky, Marty Parker, Phil Edholm, Michael Finneran, Blair Pleasant, Joseph Williams.


Jim Burton: Welcome to BCStrategies Executive Insights. This is Jim Burton, and I'm joined today by Dean Manzoori from Masergy. I have for some time been thinking about this issue of Global Hybrid UCaaS Delivery. It's a very important thing for multinational companies; it's an issue for somebody even for somebody who has a branch office outside of the country. And I thought it'd be very interesting to have that, and since Masergy really does a great job in this area, it’s appropriate to have someone like Dean join us. We have a list of BC experts online here today who are going to go through after Dean gives us a little bit of background, to try to drill down and really touch the most important points about this. So with that, Dean, I'm going to turn it over to you and then the experts, you chime in with your questions. Dean.

Dean Manzoori: Great. Thanks, Jim. My name is Dean Manzoori. I'm VP of product management, UCaaS at Masergy. I'm responsible for the cloud communications product here at Masergy.

Masergy’s a technology company. We've built the largest independent global software-defined network platform which powers our three fully managed solutions. And those solutions include hybrid networking, managed security, and of course cloud communications.

A cloud communications engine is embedded in the fabric of this high performance network platform. The platform delivers our solutions with a patented layer of embedded analytics and service control. What that means is that we have end-to-end visibility and control over every packet. Voice and video in this architecture are optimized and backed by industry leading SLAs. One of the unique things about Masergy is the fact that we have a global footprint, both from a network perspective and also as a cloud communications perspective. In fact, we have over 22 countries where we can do a complete PSDN replacement, and that includes both SIP trunking and fully hosted. And where that comes in handy, is global customers typically the sizes that we target, 1,000 employees or so, that are multi-location, it's very difficult for them to do a full upgrade overnight. So it's usually done in stages, and there's a migration path that is followed. It's done perhaps country-by-country or department-by-department. But the key is being able to deploy the services over a period of time and adapting to what the customer already has.

So if they've got a PBX fully appreciated, and they want to continue using it, and not have to the forklift upgrade overnight, we can deliver a hybrid model where we deliver SIP trunking over to their existing infrastructure. Again, in over 22 countries a complete PSDN replacement, and allow them a longer runway to migrate to a fully hosted scenario keeping the same dial plan. The key is the SIP trunking solution service is delivered from the same call platform as a UCaaS solution is delivered. So there's consistency during the implementation process, and you can have part of your organization transfer over to fully hosted while the rest of the organization continues using the SIP trunking and premises-based PBX, yet be able to have that dial plan where users are able to call each other. Does that make sense, Jim?

Jim Burton: Yeah, that absolutely makes a lot of sense. I know the experts are going to have a bunch of questions, so let's get started with Melissa.

Melissa Swartz: Hi, this is Melissa Swartz, and I have a question about that migration process you were talking about. That could be a huge factor, and it can be a pain, and it's hard to plan out. And so how much support do you give your customers when you're looking at a migration over time?

Dean Manzoori: We don't provide PBX support, but we work closely with the customer's IT department to make sure that things are happening according to their timeline.

I'll give you a real-life example. About four years ago, a large multi-location multi-national company came to us with their aging PBX. We provided SIP Trunking, I believe it was about 200 SIP Trunk sessions to their headquarters. And over time, we migrated each one of their locations, whether they had end of life scenarios at one of their locations or whether they acquired a new company. Those would come on to be fully hosted because they didn't want to have to manage or expand their old infrastructure. And so by working with them, we made sure that abbreviated dialing was available from the fully hosted users out to the PBX users, and also worked with their PBX vendor to make sure that they've got an automatic route selection set up so they can do aggregated dialing from a PBX user, back out to the fully hosted user. And that provided continuity for this organization to keep both services.

Over a four-year time span, this organization is now fully hosted. All of their locations are fully hosted, and all of the PBXs eventually end of life. It's no longer in service. SIP trunking gave way for a fully hosted model, and it allowed them to make this migration over a timeline that made sense to them and to their operations. The key was they didn't want to have to interrupt and disrupt anything. There was no interruption in service, and it allowed them to benefit from the UCaaS features and services even for fully hosted for the non-hosted of the users. In fact, halfway through this process, their voicemail system crashed, and we were able to just provide them with voicemail on every one of the DIDs that were riding over our SIP trunk solution. So that really came in handy. In fact, shortly after that, everything just accelerated because the IT teams were very comfortable with what they were getting, and they saw the benefits. And so from that point on it just became much faster and I'm happy to report that they're completely on our hosted cloud platform today.

Melissa Swartz: Nice. It sounds like your team really supported them and I think that's key in a successful transition is having that level of involvement, so thank you.

Jim Burton: I'd to add a little something there. I was talking to one of your channel partners recently, and I didn't even bring this up, but they volunteered it that they really liked doing with Masergy to provide the networking solutions because you've got a team of people that support them directly. They gave an example of another vendor that they work with once in a while, and they said they've got to go through usually three levels of people to get to somebody that can answer their question and solve the problem for them. Where when they talked to Masergy, that they get their solutions for the first guy that they take care of the issues, and it just makes it easier for them because they save a lot of time and effort doing that.

Phil, you always have questions. So jump right in here, please.

Phil Edholm: Yeah, Dean I have question around one of the key challenges that we've seen moving from, I call it the traditional world, where you had a premise solution then you bought trunks to a lot of the UCaaS solutions where the PSTN access for trucks is not included as part of the monthly service. This has huge impacts in terms of how you deploy and where you can deploy. I'm curious how you're helping your customers resolve those issues. Is there flexibility in deployment and how you access the PSTN and how do you take that and manage that around things like global numbering plans? How do they work across those if people are using different services? Is that something you've worked on?

Dean Manzoori: Yeah, absolutely. Great question. Yeah, obviously when I say PSTN replacements in over 22 countries, I mean we can provide you with not only the DID or sometimes referred to as DDI in Europe, but we also provide you with the emergency services, toll-free services. We can provide you with international toll-free service in these countries. And the way we manage this as we standardize on E.164 format when we deliver our trunking solution. And when we deliver our fully hosted solution where we're essentially taking the PBX and keeping it in the cloud and in our multi-tenant environment, the trunking becomes a non-issue at that point because we provide a one-to-one ratio of trunks and stations.

So in the legacy world, you always had to manage the number of extensions as a ratio of how many trunks you had. You always wanted to make sure you're not paying for over-capacity and also you didn't want to shortchange your users by not having enough of them. But one of the benefits of hosted solution is that you never have to think about the number of trunks. That's all taken care of by the provider, by us. And the fact that we can normalize that dial plan across these countries is a huge benefit because I've come across customers that have had to manage over 70 different PSTN providers in different countries for many different reasons. You know, they're getting a toll free service from here. They're getting to conferencing service here. They're getting a PBX vendor for the UK and another one in Germany, and then they've got PSTN connectivity. We normalize all of that, and we can provide it, and we become the single responsible entity that can deliver all of those solutions in a normalized dial plan across all of these countries. Of course, we can also provide you with DID service, inbound service in some 60-plus countries. That's nothing new. You bring in the DIDs from multiple different countries, but what's different about these 22 countries is that we provide you with full PSTN functionality including emergency services, toll-free services, local calling and that sort of thing. Does that answer your question, Phil or is there a follow-up?

Phil Edholm: Yes, I think that does. I think this is one of those areas that has huge questions and flexibility, especially as you get to larger deployments. I was actually talking to one client that was looking at one major cloud service and the price inclusion of PSTN access and the base UCaaS offer for them, the way they consume PSTN, they use a lot of video, actually made it not economic. So I think that flexibility sounds like it allows people really to tune the PSTN access to the optimization for their business regardless of kind of where their businesses is. Does that really kind of reflect what I think I heard?

Dean Manzoori: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. In fact, you mentioned video. Obviously, we support video on our platform as well as our SIP Trunking solution. So if a customer has a legacy PBX with video conferencing solution, they can actually call from office-to-office over their PSTN connection. They can dial a telephone number as opposed to having to memorize IP addresses.

Phil Edholm: Excellent. I appreciate it. That sounds great. Thanks, Dean.

Jim Burton: Nicholas, any questions for Dean?

Nicholas Kouchkovsky: Yes. I’d like to take it in a slightly different direction, and look at the real-life scenarios. So many companies, they start with a division of a site to deploy UCaaS, and then they expand. So how should they plan their expansion? And can you talk as well about sme of the pitfalls that they should be aware of?

Dean Manzoori: You know, at the end of the day it is what the customer wants that's important. There are no two organizations that are identical. No two organizations that are going to have that same timeline or the same threshold for pain. So it is very unique to each customer. That's why it's important for service providers to listen and understand the customer outcome and to plan in accordance to that outcome. If it's going to be one location and they're not even planning on doing anything else, that should be understood because greater care has to be put in place with the understanding of that outcome.

So in my first example, which basically had this organization that had lived with an on-prem PBX for many years started out actually with one location that was moving. It was a small location, yet it served to be the cookie-cut for the rest of them because you have to understand they didn't really know what they're getting into. So there's a lot of handholding and a lot of educating that took place. Not only for them to understand the solution, but also for us to understand what their goals are and making sure that when we start the project, that we have measurable goals and timelines set to make sure we are reaching those goals in a timely fashion.

So if you have a location that needs services, we're going to make sure that you have adequate network because this is going to be delivered over IP. We're going to have to mitigate if you're in a hurry and then something has to happen fast, and you're not able to wait for, managed QoS-enabled circuits, and it'll be over the top.

We're going to have to make sure that your network infrastructure can handle that. The nice thing about it is you don't have to replace what the users are already using. This can work in parallel. So we can bring in fully hosted UCaaS end-points and have them connected in the network, placed on users' desks and allowing them to adapt and to get all the training that they need to actually use the phones to make sure that they're comfortable with it before any of the numbers reported and before they start using it. So that has to be well understood and defined for the customer and time after time when they get comfortable with this. This becomes a cookie cut formula for them to execute in other locations going forward.

Nicholas Kouchkovsky: Yeah, it makes tons of sense. Can you talk as well about the use case I'm seeing more of lately -- mergers. What I'm seeing, in particular, is after a merger, there's a desire from the top to very rapidly bring together the teams from the various parties on one communication platform. So are there any specific things that should be considered in these types of conditions?

Dean Manzoori: Yes, so again, it depends on what these two entities have. Are they fully hosted? Are they mixed-up SIP trunking and fully hosted? Great emphasis should be put into that roadmap. For example, if that acquiring company’s fully hosted and they're acquiring a company that has a premises-based solution, and they're not really ready to make drastic changes, we can provide SIP trunking to the new company and make sure that there is a dial plan between the two organizations to start with. This gives both entities as they merge, as they come together to decide how to best bring the communications closer to each other. So we'll provide them with a plan. If it has to be done tomorrow, it can be done tomorrow. If it has to be done in a year, it can be done in a year.

Often times the bottleneck isn't really the speed at which we can deploy. It's usually how fast can they understand their own requirements and be able to outline those requirements to a provider. That's usually, I think, the bottleneck, but the services can be delivered. A UCaaS solution along with our SIP trunking is ready to go. It's just a matter of having the right IP address. If there's a network to be placed. Once that network is in place, even if it's over the top, it's just a matter of configuring it. It used to be in decades ago, where you had to have a separate circuit brought in for TDM circuits, right? It's IP, and it's a lot easier to put in. Again, it really depends on how fast the customer can articulate the requirements.

Nicholas Kouchkovsky: Yeah, It makes sense. Thank you, Dean.

Dean Manzoori: You’re welcome.

Michael Finneran: Hi Dean, this is Michael Finneran. When responded to Nicholas, you had referenced to well, what the customer is already using. I was just wondering how does this approach impact the customers who are still using a premise-based PBX. Lord knows we've got plenty of those out there.

Dean Manzoori: Yeah. So the key to being able to deliver a hybrid UCaaS solution is being able to provide SIP trunking, and that's key. So we've put in place a call platform where it's all based on SIP, but we can deliver trunking over SIP with TDM like PRI handoff. So if you've got a legacy PBX that you know you're going to replace but it's fully depreciated, and you maybe want to hang onto it a little longer, right? Or maybe you just want to understand what a service solution might look like in your environment.

We always say this we're extending the runway. We're going to provide you with SIP trunking. It can be native SIP if your PBX can support it, or we can bring in SIP to TDM with PRI handoff. In both cases, really the outcome is the same. The customer gets connectivity to the PSTN, and at that point, they can layer on additional services over those DIDs as well as deploying a subset of users, perhaps a new location or department that can be fully hosted. Yet the dial plan is consistent across both platforms. Does that make sense?

Michael Finneran: It does. Great. Well, it certainly sounds like you have it covered, Dean. Thank you.

Dean Manzoori: You're welcome.

Marty Parker: So Dean, this is Marty Parker, and I've actually been through this with clients at a large scale. And you've said a couple things so far that I would ask you to clarify and then I'd like to talk to you about risk management and risk mitigation.

In the first part, I'm curious as to the extent that you provide your customers, new customers, with guidance as to how they're going to manage to reduce or reassign the staff that has been running the PBX. I'll tell you, this is the biggest obstacle to UCaaS that I know of. Way bigger than cost, way bigger than risk is that the people who are running the PBX and the people they report to don't like this idea because it's going to change their job. Most likely make their job go away because you don't need somebody there to monitor the PBX. Maybe you still have somebody doing adds, moves, and changes, but most likely they'll outsource that as well. So what do you say to a customer about this radical disruption to their organization structure?

Dean Manzoori: Great question, Marty. In the beginning, it might sound like you're taking somebody’s job away…

Marty Parker: It does. A part of it does.

Dean Manzoori: And what we say to our customers is that what you can do now is shift your focus, shift the focus of your team to projects that are impacting your bottom line. Work on projects that are in line with your product line, that are in line with your revenue growth, as opposed to spending time to keep the lights on. We can do that for you more efficiently, and it doesn't mean that you…typically, we are reducing your costs anyway, even without considering the lower amount of involvement and fewer resources that are required to do this migration. So those resources can now focus on core competency, revenue-generating IT projects.

Marty Parker: I think you're on the right track, for sure. And my experience with clients is that they seldom see proposals. I think Masergy could do a great job if you approached your clients saying, let's make a business case, and in that business case we're going to put in money for retraining of your staff so they can be productive in these new roles. Or in one client's case, they actually put in money for the termination costs of people who would resign or be asked to leave because they weren't needed anymore. But the point is, I think it's important to manage that. It is an organization change, but let's move on to risk mitigation.

In today's world where cyber security and cyber threats are probably the issue, and where we've had some famous national level phishing expeditions that have turned some things inside out. People want to know how are you going to eliminate their risks? I know that you've already said you can do this in a phased approach. You can do side by side, there's no hot cut, there’s no Saturday night, let’s slash cut everything, but when you start talking about deployments and locations in groups, and we start talking about parallelism, the clients want to know that two things are in place. One is you're going to provide the same level of directory management, user authentication, single sign-on security and monitoring at least the same as they have with their legacy PBX. Hopefully way better because the legacy PBX mostly provides security through obscurity, not through management. And tell me also when you talk about the parallelism, how do you help the client manage these two things together rather than having to double their workload in the interim?

Dean Manzoori: Yeah. So let's start with the first part of this question which has to do with risk management during the deployment process. I think the most important thing that we could do is training, training, and training.

Marty Parker: Okay.

Dean Manzoori: It is important to make sure that the users that are onboarding have sufficient time to use the system before it's live. And they have enough resources to understand what they're getting into and making sure that it does what they need it to do. Their expectations are met and that users will have access to that type of training, not just during deployment, but even after if you bring a new hire, how do you get them up to speed with the phone system and other UC, whether it's messaging and collaboration, all of that. I think the key is ensuring that the user base is fully trained or has access to quickly get answers to questions they might have. I don't have patience for reading manuals. I think it's important to have, at least in the very beginning to have instructor-led training courses. After that, it comes to video. You want to have prerecorded videos of using the features. What we call interactive….

Marty Parker: So Masergy is providing those tools?

Dean Manzoori: Yeah. So we have interactive tutorials, how to use the phone. We also have instructor-led online training sessions. We can provide on-prem training, but we find it more effective when we do an online training using one of the popular Webinar tools where the user is actually sitting at their own desk, and we can show them in real time how to use the system and answer their questions. Usually, that's the most effective way of doing it. We find it to be more effective than actually having somebody run around the office to show people. They're sitting in their own environment. You're answering their questions. You're letting them know where to get the resources if they should need it in the future. But I think training is key in success of any deployment, especially as a service solution. And it's got to be intuitive, right? There's some level of reading manuals. But I feel we are going in a direction where things are more intuitive. You know, when was the last time you read a manual on how to use your iPhone? That's where we need to be.

Marty Parker: The iPhone is its own manual, but that's another conversation. Okay, well I think in the world of YouTube and many other resources like that, I think your idea of video snippets is going to be the most effective. And that's one of the things that's happening in today's YouTube world is people don't study manuals. They log on to YouTube when it breaks. They assume they know everything until they don't. And when they don't, they go to YouTube and watch it. So I think you're right. It's better to have a library of snippets than to try to sit in a class. But, okay. So that's one important part of risk mitigation. I will say, and I don't know if you want to comment on it, but I would say that the network security, and the information security departments are the toughest approval processes in the UCaaS environment. You're going to penetrate the customer's firewall, you're going to be moving traffic across that network, and you're going to be asking them to open up certain addresses and so forth. That is a really difficult problem. I don't know if your team has a better way to do it. I'm sure you do it well, but if there's a better way, tell me what it is.

Dean Manzoori: Well you know, as I mentioned in the beginning, we built the largest independent global software-defined network platform, which powers our fully managed solutions -- hybrid networking, managed security and cloud communications. Our cloud communication solution can be delivered over a private connection. So not only are you getting the application, the unified communications as a service application, but you're also getting your private MPLS SD-WAN networking from us. So we can help you with any challenges that you might have in terms of making sure that the IP addresses are set. We actually, through our networking tool, we can show you how things are performing. We actually provide a mean opinion score on every call that may come in the network or whether it's using our network or not. But we are actually showing you jitter, packet loss, latency, codec. That's actually available to customers real time.

We can guarantee an outcome because we deliver and we are responsible for the network as well. Now, of course, customers can use over the top public internet to use our service. It's both available. Of course, it will be best effort over the public connection. But going back to risk management, many of our customers use their public connection as a backup. So if their MPLS SD-WAN breaks, they are still able to connect and continue their business using the public internet. Because of the fact that we own our own network, we can guarantee an outcome. Many of our competitors can't because they depend on NNIs or, you know, either NNIs or over the public internet that they can't really control. But we have end-to-end visibility and control over every packet. We own and manage every active component within this private network. This is really important that that's how we can provide you with such strong SLAs.

Marty Parker: Right. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate it.

Blair Pleasant: Hi Dean. So this is all great information, but can you give us some examples of some real-world applications? I'd like to hear about some customer examples or case studies even about how some customers have made the move to your cloud platform, and I understand if you can’t share specific customer names.

Dean Manzoori: Yeah. I believe we’ve published a few of those on our website. I'm not sure if it references the name, but I can tell you as an example, Netgear was one of our customers, and we deployed them originally as a SIP Trunking customer, but today they're completely hosted across three different continents. That's one example that was success. I think they have something over something of a 1,600 fully hosted media endpoints.

I can also tell you that we have about something close to 300, purely SIP trunking customers with an average of about 200 sessions per customer. So they've got trunks for 200 sessions which span Western Europe, North America, East Asia, and Australia. And so these companies, we think are great targets for becoming fully hosted over the next five years.

And we continue to add those as you can imagine, we have many enterprise size customers that are using SIP trunking, are using our networking solution along with our SIP trunking, and they are perfect examples of how they could easily migrate to a fully hosted environment because they're already using our call platform. If somebody today wanted to have, for example, what Cisco refers to as working the call, single number reach, we can do that because we are providing the SIP trunk over a class 5 feature service. And now we can go ahead and say, all right, you don't have to use single number reach on your PBX because it takes up to two sessions, it takes up bandwidth, you have to pin it on your PBX. We can actually do it in the cloud for you on a DID by DID basis. We can fail over a particular DID to any predefined destination, so it provides them with that extended runway to be able to take advantage of UCaaS features without taking on the risk.

But yeah, a number of our customers started out as being purely SIP trunking and have either fully migrated to a fully hosted environment, or they're on their way to do so.

Blair Pleasant: You mentioned that Netgear is in three continents. Are there certain regions where you're seeing the most success?

Dean Manzoori: Not really. I think both Western Europe, East Asia, and Australia. Most companies that are multinational, they probably have an office or two or more in these regions. So for global companies, we typically see them in all three regions—so four regions.

Blair Pleasant: Okay, great. Well, thanks a lot, Dean.

Dean Manzoori: Sure.

Jim Burton: Dr. Joseph Williams. Any questions for Dean?

Joseph Williams: Well, I was wondering, Dean, and thanks, Jim. I was wondering if I could use your offering to provide country-specific customization. In other words, I understand the platform’s global, but can I localize it?

Dean Manzoori: And how do you mean? Our service is what I call localized from a user's perspective. It's delivered from a global scale. But we have true localization. For example, if you're in the UK and you pick up a handset, you're going to hear what you're used to hearing from a UK dial tone. When you're calling somebody in the UK, you're going to get the ring back that you used to hearing when you call across the desk. We also have an option for, today I think it's up to five languages. Where you can select a user within an organization, can choose the language. Not only does it change the display on their phone, but it also changes the canned greetings that you're hearing. The last thing you want to do is you have an office in France, and you hear the person giving you a greeting in French, and all the sudden you'll hear, “I'll transfer you now.”

So the solution is truly localized to a point where the dialing behavior is exactly the same. So if I'm the UK and I'm calling across the street, I'm going to call 0207 and then the number. You're not going to feel like you're using a phone that isn't from that region or from that country. It's truly localized from a language perspective, from a user experience perspective. And if I dial an international number, I do exactly like I would dial from my house, you know, whatever that plus prefix happens to be in your country it stays the same, and your local dialing also stays the same. That's key. When I say full PBX replacement in over 22 countries, that's what I mean. You get the full localized experience and not just unlimited calling within your country and those sorts of things. It's a lot more than that. It's localizing the user experience.

Joseph Williams: Okay, great. And what are the five languages?

Dean Manzoori: North American English and UK English. I count that as one language. We have French, Italian, German, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese, which I'm told is a Cantonese, Mandarin basic version that both sides will understand. So yeah. So I'm going to just say Chinese, Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, French, English….

Joseph Williams: and English.

Dean Manzoori: Of both accents., British English and American English.

Joseph Williams: Well, that answers my question. Thanks. Thanks, Jim.

Dean Manzoori: You're welcome.

Jim Burton: Great. Thanks, everybody. Dean, before we go, do you have any last comments that you'd like to make?

Dean Manzoori: Thank you for the opportunity. These are all great questions. If there’s any follow-up, please feel free to reach out. Email address is [email protected]. I'm more than happy to answer any questions, or if you have any ideas that you want to run by me, please do so.

Jim Burton: Well, that's great. Well, thank you, Dean. But I also want to thank the experts. I mean you guys asked some great, great questions and we covered this in a lot more depth than I had thought we would, which is really, really good, which hopefully can help educate the marketplace on this. So thank you, Dean, and thank you BC experts.


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