Mitel Partner Conference - More Highlights, Takeaways and Photos

Getting through the analyst briefing session now. This is where we get more detail on Mitel's product roadmap and go-to-market plans. Not much talk here about VoIP, SIP, IP PBX, etc. They're repeatedly cited how they've moved on from TDM-to-IP, and how the conversations now are much more about business appplications and flexibility to support end users across a variety of scenarios.

There has been some talk about UC, but it's mostly about cloud, virtualization and data centers. Freedom is their overriding architecture, and following the best-of-breed approach, they're adding partners to support the full ecosystem, and that's what we saw at the Solutions Expo yesterday. It's a different model from the bigger vendors who want to do it all. Lots of flexibility here to support all the major smartphones and tablets.

As the morning unfolds, it's becoming clearer what they meant earlier about shifting from being a solutions provider to offering Freedom, which is really an enabling architecture. So, most of the discussion is about the virtualization story rather than the specifics about varying UC or telecom features.

They certainly have all those pieces - just like everyone else - but their differentiation is really built around virtualization, which brings us to VMware. I think this is a good plan to create some market separation, and they seem to have a pretty good head start here, so I like their chances. Other vendors work with VMware too, but it looks like Mitel has made the biggest bet with them. So, there's a lot riding on this relationship, and I'd say it works so long as it works for VMware. I'm sure this is an interesting market for them, and if Mitel has success selling their customer base on virtualization, they'll be fine.

This is a different Mitel from their last analyst event in 2009, where they first announced plans to work with VMware. With Inter-Tel pretty much behind them, I think they've done a great job to position themselves for the present environment. The pool of vendors is smaller today, and you need to be big but also agile to survive. They look pretty ready to me, but it really comes down to the channel, since most all sales go/come through them. Based on what we're hearing, they seem pretty ready too. Rich McBee and his team look to have a clean slate here, and we're hearing all the right things, and I think it's fair to say we'll see the results by year end. I'll certainly be watching and updating you here.

Things wrap up later this morning, and I'll leave you with a few photos to complement my thoughts...

New CEO Rich McBee

Steve Beamish and da Bears - this was fun - the Chicago Bears are a Mitel client, and they shared their deployment story with us

VMware's Carl Eschebach - very impressive growth story - a bit too strong for my liking. I see a great future for virtualization in the comms space, and I know the core audience is Mitel partners, so we're only going to hear about the upside here.

Solutions Expo - Magor's TeleCollaboration - I think there's a great story here, and even though they're a Wesley Clover company, we heard barely a peep about them during the Mitel sessions - that's why I'm here to get the word out, I guess...

RIM's booth - I think this is a key partnership for Mitel - aside from these being two Canadian companies, there's great synergy here, esp with the PlayBook being so new - this really completes Mitel's UC offering