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ALE launches must-have collaboration service with Rainbow software

ALE enters a crowded collaboration market with the release of its cloud-based Rainbow software. The collaboration service is seen as a critical addition to ALE's UC system.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise's recent launch of a cloud-based team collaboration service is a defensive move in a unified communications market packed with similar products from ALE rivals.

ALE released last week a free version of the Rainbow service, which the vendor promised in March. The company plans to launch an enterprise version of the Rainbow software early next year.

Rainbow, which is similar to Cisco Spark, Unify Circuit, and BroadSoft Team-One, provides a workspace that includes presence, voice and video calling, file sharing and chatbot services. Having a product like Rainbow is a necessity for a UC vendor.

"At this point, a team chat solution is a must-have for anyone in the UC space," said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Mokena, Ill.-based Nemertes Research. "Rainbow can help them generate new revenue streams via upselling, and potentially avoid losing those customers to other cloud providers."

ALE battling for market share with cloud-based Rainbow software

ALE is up against a long list of vendors ready to sell its customers a cloud-based collaboration service. They include established vendors, such as BroadSoft, Cisco, Unify and 8x8, and emerging companies, such as Flock, Atlassian HipChat and Slack.

ALE sells its UC platform globally through resellers, but the Paris-based vendor is strongest in Europe. Sold under the name OpenTouch Suite, the UC system scales to 5,000 users and 15,000 endpoints, Gartner reported in its July Magic Quadrant for UC.

ALE customers can deploy OpenTouch along with the company's OmniPCX Enterprise Communication Server, which scales from 100 users to 100,000 in a single image, according to Gartner.

ALE will provide software for integrating Rainbow with the latest version of OmniPCX. Older versions of OmniPCX require additional technology.

ALE also plans to provide integration technology for competitors' communications platforms. The multivendor approach will make it easier for enterprises to use the cloud-based Rainbow software in heterogeneous environments.

ALE's market weakness

ALE's challenge is to gain market share in the large U.S. market, Gartner said. Without a presence in the U.S., ALE will have difficulty selling its Rainbow software and other products to multinational companies that want support in the region.

ALE was a subsidiary of Alcatel-Lucent until 2014 when the latter sold it to Chinese industrial investment company China Huaxin Post & Telecommunication Economy Development Center. China Huaxin owns 85% of the business. Nokia owns the rest.

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