Unify brings Project Ansible to market as Circuit SaaS collaboration tool

Circuit brings together voice, , screen sharing, messaging, and file sharing within a single interface, with extreme simplicity of use.

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Screenshot of the new interface

Today, Unify is announcing the availability of Circuit, their new offering that brings together voice, video, screen sharing, messaging, and file sharing through a single-pane-of-glass interface.

Circuit began life as Project Ansible, and it has been on the drawing board, in one form or another, for quite some time.

“We’ve been talking about it quite a bit, and it is the result of two years of intensive study,” said , Vice President, North America Portfolio Management at Unify. “It began when we partnered with frog [a global product strategy and design firm] on a new user interface for our UC product. Doing that, we found a profound level of frustration with the UC technology tools available. So we took a step back, from just freshening up the user interface, and we studied the way people worked and looked for a better way of doing things.”

Unify preannounced Project Ansible 15 months ago.

“In no way was it a product, just a vision, in design phase at that time.” Salvatora said. “Since then, we have taken that product and developed it, and this spring, we started actual betas, first an internal one and then one with customers.”

Unify_Diane Salvatora

Diane Salvatora, Vice President, North America Portfolio Management at Unify

Salvatore was one of the internal beta users.

“It has truly improved my teamwork, and liberated me from being driven by emails, dramatically changing the way I work,” she said.

Circuit brings together voice, video, screen sharing, messaging, and file sharing within a single interface.

“Everything is all in one unified view, with no separate windows or tabs, and there are no apps to switch,” Salvatora said. “You can use phone, laptop, desktop – it’s all the same to Circuit. “Everything is sharable with fellow Circuit users, and it’s natively inclusive – not for members only. You can add people to the conversation, without an admin.” Content is easy to find as well, because the system’s contextual search capabilities provides the ability to search and filter by search terms and people.

Salvatora also stressed that a major advantage of the platform is extreme simplicity of use.

“It’s all tracked and secure and so easy that you don’t need a manual,” she said. “Teams are up and running in moments, with no training, no deployment time,” Everything is also in one space, so it’s easy to pick up later.”

Salvatora said Circuit is fundamentally different from competitor products on the market.

“UC vendors have cobbled together disparate offerings, and have complicated things, so that you have to set up web collaboration meeting, get a video number to set up a meeting, and find information once you are in the conference room,” Salvatora said. “We didn’t buy a file share application, and graft it onto our other solutions. This is a single pane of glass built from the ground up. It is a more conversational approach to collaboration, based on a conversational rather than a folder or directory model.”

Circuit is a SaaS offering, rather than infrastructure based, one of the reasons that Salvatora thinks customers won’t have to choose between keeping the UC solutions they have now and adding Circuit.

“We don’t see it as ‘rip and replace,’” she said. “We see it as a strong team service that they would add to their existing environment. Most companies with UC don’t have every element available to every user in the organization now. This provides a rich team collaboration application when needed regardless of the infrastructure. It can work with existing solutions and doesn’t require connectivity to the platforms, although it can be done should the company choose.”

Unify is this as an product, but given that it is sold on a per user subscription basis, which no separate hardware cost, there is no obvious reason why it couldn’t play anywhere in any market that the person selling it thinks is worth their time and effort.

“Teams are everywhere, even in microsegments,” Salvatora said. “There is nothing on site, as it’s a pure SaaS offer, so it’s as affordable to small enterprise as large enterprise. We think it’s a product that should resonate in all parts of the market.”

The channel did not play a major role in the go-to-market strategy for Unify in its earlier days as Enterprise Communications, but the company’s rebranding was accompanied by a change in its go-to-market strategy, which has seen an increase in the amount of business done by channel partners. Salvatora sees this as a strong product for partners but – and there is a but – they will have to wait a little while to get it.

“We are launching it as a direct product to get a customer base built,” she said. “However, we will add it to our new partner program that goes live on January 1.  Channel partners will carry this and new partners will come to Unify for it. Traditional VARs are very interested. So are system integrators, because it provides them with more service integration business, and service providers, because it is a SaaS product.

Pricing for Circuit is $14.95 per user/month. As part of the launch, Unify is offering a 60-day free trial. Circuit users who sign up for an annual contract will be offered Circuit for free through March 31, 2015.

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