tndm made a major move today, adding a completely new product category to their wholesale lineup. They will be leveraging Cisco's Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) platform to offer a cloud-based unified communications product on a wholesale basis. That means that alongside those tandem switches they'll be running a cloud of servers too. They won't be targeting enterprises directly, but rather will be selling the product via Cisco's VARs and Systems Integrators, and have been trialing the service with several VARs already.
It's very much a new direction for Neutral Tandem, but a natural one that takes advantage of their existing areas of strength. Tandem switches are obviously where they got started, but last year they added IP transit and Ethernet products to their traditional tandem switching offering by buying Tinet. UC leverages both their voice and IP strengths, and keeping it wholesale lets them remain a neutral party. VARs can also leverage their EtherCloud ecosystem as well to gain better end to end control, but that's optional of course.
For the VARS, this is a way to address the UC/collaboration market and take much larger telecoms without a big capital investment and without taking their eye off the ball on the service side of things. And of course, having the Cisco brand backing up the underlying technology doesn't hurt either. The first VAR to sign on is Nexus IS, Inc.
While this announcement is about collaboration and UC, the concept obviously has additional legs if things go well. Cisco's HCS platform will support additional parallel products, and there could be other wholesale cloud-based offerings that Neutral Tandem might find work similarly - hosted video, WebEx, etc. For now the offering will be US-based, but there doesn't seem to be any reason they couldn't expand it from there.
It's unclear to me just what the revenue opportunity is here and what its timing might be. But there's no doubt it has the potential to be a big market.
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