This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

The company announces beta schedule and GA plans for its new product.

Enterprise Connect kicked off today in sunny Orlando, FL. Certainly a lot nicer than the weather we’ve been having here in the Northeast where temperatures this morning were single digits. In addition to the great weather, this should be a fantastic conference with many great themes such as cloud and software, and even video is seeing a bit of a rebound. Another point of interest is that this is the first Enterprise Connect for Unify, the company formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications.

Unify wasted no time in making noise at the conference as early this morning the company issued a press release providing more details on its not-so-stealthly product, Project Ansible. In case you’re not familiar with Ansible, the product is Unify’s next-generation UC platform designed at enabling the new world of work. The company had actually given a few details on the product in July of 2013 at its analyst conference, and then provided a few more highlights when it launched the name Unify in fall of 2013.

According to the press release, Unify has several pre-Beta trials currently underway that appear to be going well enough that the company gave some details behind its release schedule. Assuming the pre-Betas continue to be positive, we should see official Betas in May. Unify appears to be willing to eat its own dog food, as one of the Betas planned is Unify itself. This means those of us that interact with the company should be doing so over Ansible by summertime. The general availability of the product is scheduled for October of this and will be delivered via the cloud as a software as a service (SaaS) model.

Additionally, Unify announced some details around interoperability with existing products. By the end of 2014, Ansible will include connectors to on-premise OpenScape Voice deployments. This should enable Unify’s customers to enjoy the benefits of Ansible while leveraging the investments made with existing products and then migrating at whatever pace they like. Unify also outlined another wave of its roadmap, highlighting integration with OpenScape Business and OpenScape 4000 by mid-2015, which creates a larger addressable market for Unify and its resellers.

Additionally, Unify outlined a number of product feature details about Project Ansible, including the following:

• Unify claims that Project Ansible will be the first business grade UC offering that leverages WebRTC. Given the product is still several months from general availability, it will be interesting to see if they are indeed the first one, but it’s good to know that WebRTC support is coming from Unify.

• The company announced mobile support and should have several apps ready for Apple devices when the product officially launches. It looks like Android will be close behind. My guess is that Windows Mobile will be next on the list, but given the relative share of Apple and Android, I’m not sure it matters.

• Unify also detailed a very extensive list of features such as:

o Seamless High Definition audio/video, 1:1, and group conversations

o Scheduled and ad-hoc conferencing

o Rich, textual messaging

o Enterprise social networking

o Search across persistent conversations, people and files

o Cross-device access to all messages, files, and real-time communication and collaboration capabilities (video, voice and screen sharing)

o Contact integration for LinkedIn and Outlook

o An “outstanding and guided user experience ensuring fast and simple ramp-up”

Some of these, such as conferencing and audio/video integration are obvious but it would be nice to get more detail on items like “rich, textual messaging”, “enterprise social networking” and the “outstanding” user guide. These leave a fair bit of room for interpretation but again; it’s certainly a positive to see these items on the list. The product aims to be a next generation work tool, and these are the tools that future generations of workers are using.

Lastly, Unify also confirmed that the name of the product will officially be Ansible. Initially I believe Unify wanted to use Ansible as the codename and then release the product under another name. I’m normally a bigger fan of names that actually mean something but the company (I know, boring) has done such a good job of branding Ansible, I think it makes sense to keep the name around.

It’s great to see Unify making positive progress with Ansible and to finally see some details around deployment timeline and a partial feature list. So a warm wave goodbye from Enterprise Connect to Siemens Enterprise and hello to Unify.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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