After speaking with dozens of highly successful companies like ETA at the Mitel Business Partners Conference, one theme rang true: Virtualized Voice is no longer the afterthought it once was. It’s become an integral, key component of most businesses’ virtualization strategies.It’s been over two years now since Mitel revolutionized the business phone system marketplace by introducing Virtualized Voice, a solution they developed jointly with VMWare®. What they created was a way to natively virtualize not only call control, but all telephony applications as well, such as unified communications, collaboration tools, contact center technology and more. What really set it apart from other so-called virtualzed solutions was that it ran natively with VMWare, enabling voice to be fully virtualized and not have to “live” on a separate server any more. (Check out our overview of Virtualized Voice for more information.) This meant that there was now truly no part of a company’s IT infrastructure that couldn’t be virtualized. All of the benefits that made companies want to virtualize (hardware consolidation, improved energy efficiency, increased savings, simplified management & upgrades, etc.) could be realized, without voice being the “red headed stepchild” that still needed a separate physical (and often proprietary) server, or set of servers, to operate.

However, as revolutionary as it was, Virtualized Voice didn’t take off as quickly as you might expect. The fact of the matter is, though the two worlds have fully converged, “traditional” data and voice are still thought of, and treated, separately in many organizations. Add to that the fact that Mitel’s solution was so much farther evolved than anything on the marketplace, and the simple reality for most IT professionals was that virtualizing voice wasn’t even on their roadmap.

Of course, for the early adopters, Virtualized Voice has been a game changer. As VMWare’s Gina Bollenback reports in this blog entry, companies that have implemented the solution, from SMBs to enterprises, have reported benefits such as a reduced data center footprint, enhanced business continuity/disaster recovery, energy and administrative cost savings, centralized management and more. ETA’s customers are no exception – In fact, we were one of the pioneers that helped companies achieve these goals and more by ensuring they include voice in their overall virtualization strategy. In fact, we were Mitel’s Voice Virtualization Partner of the Year in 2012.

However, even within our engagements with companies who adopted the solution, we were almost always the ones educating IT teams about virtualizing voice. Even companies that had detailed plans and strategies to virtualize their IT resources weren’t considering voice as part of the equation.

So what changed in the past two years? It’s hard to say, but I think a few things are at work here. According to this study done by the Corporate Executive Board, 57% of a B2B buyer’s purchasing decision is made before they come into contact with a service provider. Although this might sound shocking at first, think about your own purchasing habits. Most of us research any major purchase online, often checking several different sources, before even setting foot in a store or visiting an online retailer. So, when you consider that B2B buyers are also consumers, it makes perfect sense that they’d use the same logic when making any major purchasing decision for their business as they would in their personal lives. Of course, at first, there wasn’t much information out there about virtualized voice when the solution was brand new. However, as time went on and more and more companies implemented the solution, more information became easily available. Companies that were researching their virtualization strategy were now being educated about the importance of virtualizing voice as well. Combine that with VMWare partners that were trained to help their customers understand the importance of virtualizing voice, and I think the reason for the trend becomes more apparent.

In any case, it was refreshing to hear other Mitel partners throughout the country reinforce our experience about enhanced Virtualized Voice adoption. However, the fact remains that there are still many companies out there that simply aren’t there yet. If you’re one of them, I highly suggest that you do your research on the subject (That is, of course, before getting in touch with us or another Mitel partner. :))