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Big UC News from Microsoft, Cisco, Sennheiser, Lumen, and Fuze – UC Today

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Microsoft Searching for New Channel Boss Again
Fuze Acquisition Drives 8×8 Growth
Some not-to-miss highlights from this week in Unified Communications 
From an acquisition and a new deal to a search for a new boss, here are extracts from popular stories this week.
8×8 has increased its enterprise customer base through its acquisition of Fuze while achieving a milestone of 50 countries with sales operations.   
Speaking on its Q4 earnings call, the CEO of 8×8 said the acquisition of Fuze has led to nearly 300 new customers, enhanced the company’s ‘XCaaS’ (Experience Communications as a Service) solution and provided cross-selling opportunities. 
With a further 120 customers onboarded on top of these to its UC-CC business segment, 8×8 now has a total of 1,320 enterprise customers.   
Dave Sipes, CEO at 8×8, said: Enterprise adoption of our integrated XCaaS platform continues to expand with XCaaS ARR growth accelerating to more than 35% year-over-year, not including Fuze.   
“XCaaS now accounts for approximately 35% of combined 8×8 Fuze ARR, and given the Fuze enterprise base, we see an opportunity to grow this materially over the next several years. 
“We have been excited by the response we are seeing from fee customers and partners, and strengthened European presence is just some examples of the additive impact of the Fuze acquisition across the business.   
“Customer retention among the Fuze space has been strong, and revenue of $24 million was above our expectations for the quarter.
“We moved swiftly after the transaction closed to integrate the two organizations and streamline the combined cost structure.”   
The acquisition of Fuze cost approximately $250m split between cash and shares, based on Fuze’s share price at the time the deal closed in January. 
Alianza’s landmark deal with Lumen has propelled its cloud communications platform into the mainstream, CEO Brian Beutler has told UC Today 
In April, Lumen and Alianza jointly announced their partnership, which will see Lumen use the latter’s technology to evolve its enterprise voice services through cloud migration.  
Alianza has around 200 service provider customers within the US and Canada, but this tie-up marks the first time a huge Tier 1 network provider has adopted its platform. 
Beutler said the Alianza cloud platform is the springboard that will help communication service providers (CSPs) become competitive again after years spent falling behind over-the-top (OTT) players.  
“If you look at the last decade, service providers have been shackled by softswitches, and it’s not been a friendly time for them,” he explained.  
“The battle has been won by OTT providers because they have more innovative products, while service providers have had platforms that just can’t compete. They’ve had their clock cleaned, so they need to become more-agile, cloud operators.   
“Alianza is the only antidote for this, and we’re really excited about what feels like the next frontier of cloud communications. The next decade is going to look dramatically different for service providers”
The partnership will allow Lumen to consolidate many networks that it has pieced together over decades of mergers and acquisitions.
Cisco has seen its collaboration sales drop for a fourth consecutive quarter. 
The networking giant saw revenue in the unit dip seven per cent to just over $1.1bn, owing to declines in activity across video meetings, calling and contact centre. 
The collaboration division largely took a back seat when the results were announced, with investors and analysts more concerned with a forecast drop revenue decline in the vendor’s networking unit, which accounts for more than half of sales. 
Cisco expects income in Q4 to drop somewhere between one and 5.5 per cent, driven by inflation and production delays triggered by lockdowns in China. 
Sales in the vendor’s Q3 were flat at $12.8bn. 
The vendor revealed that the abrupt halting of sales in Russia and Belarus as a result of the war in Ukraine took a $200m chunk out of its income. 
Revenue in the two countries and Ukraine had previously accounted for one per cent of sales. 
CEO Chuck Robbins was, however, upbeat and said that demand from customers is still there despite the struggle with components and production, revealing that the decline in collaboration sales was partially offset by strong demand for its CPaaS offering. 
Sennheiser has appointed Maverick AV Solutions as a pan-European distributor to expand its reach across the continent. 
Maverick, which is part of Tech Data, operates in 16 countries across Europe. 
Bart Stam, distribution manager EMEA for Sennheiser, said: “By adding Maverick AV solutions as a distribution partner to our existing sales channels, we are convinced that our business communication products will find their way better to IT resellers and integrators. 
“This exciting collaboration will enable even more customers to experience Sennheiser’s advanced audio technology products.
“The TC ISP and TCC2 products are intuitive, agnostic and audibly better while offering true problem-solving capabilities for lecture spaces and meeting rooms.” 
Maverick said the deal will “introduce Sennheiser to the IT channel” and extend the reach of its room kits. 
Simon Kitson, Director of Smart Meetings at Maverick, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to further our Teams for Meetings portfolio and offer best-in-class solutions for large meeting rooms.
Microsoft is on the hunt for a new global channel boss with Rodney Clark set to depart. 
Clark took the CVP of Global Partner Sales position last year after longstanding channel leader Gavriella Schuster left Microsoft. 
Nick Parker, Corporate Vice President of Global Partner Solutions, revealed the news in a blog post – stating that Clark will leave Microsoft to become Executive Officer at a publicly listed firm. 
“Rodney’s imprint on many of our businesses has been significant and enduring as we continue to transform our entire partner ecosystem to realize new growth with Microsoft Cloud,” he said.
Parker said that Microsoft plans to have a successor in place by its Microsoft Inspire virtual partner conference, which takes place in July. 
Clark joined Microsoft in 1998 and held various general manager and VP positions throughout his tenure of more than two decades. 
In a post on LinkedIn, he said: “For 24-plus years, I have been able to learn, grow and work for the best company in the world.
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