G Business VoIP Newsletter
May 2013
   Business VoIP News

New Releases

Digium Introduces Higher Capacity Switchvox SMB Appliances
Digium introduces two new higher capacity Switchvox hardware appliances for its Switchvox SMB IP-PBX. The new Switchvox 450 and 470 appliances are suitable for larger applications, supporting 500 or 600 users in a single system and bringing the number of available appliances to five. In addition, the Switchvox 400 series appliances have a smaller footprint and lower power consumption compared to earlier models. (more…)

NEC UNIVERGE Cloud Services: 'All NEC' from A-Z
NEC reports positive momentum for its new hosted/cloud UC service called NEC UNIVERGE Cloud Services or nUCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) now available in North America. NEC owns and manages the technology and transport from end-to-end and has designed its cloud service to be dealer-friendly so that channel partners can add the service to their portfolio without investing a lot of money. (more…)

ShoreTel Adds Visual Dashboard, Intros Small Business Package and New Devices
ShoreTel introduces several new solutions, including a new version of the company's call processing software, ShoreTel 14, that enhances the diagnostic and monitoring capabilities of the ShoreTel Director management interface. A new dashboard gives administrators a visual view into system status and resource utilization across all sites in the network. Also new are the ShoreTel IP 930D DECT phone, ShoreTel Small Business Edition 100 and the ShoreTel Dock iOS docking station. (more…)

Vertical MBX IP 2.0 Improves User Features and Security, Adds SIP Phone Support
Vertical Communications updates its MBX IP system with new user features, security enhancements and support for third party SIP telephones. New features include Supervisor Call Recording, voicemail feature parity between the SBX IP and MBX IP systems, support for TLS/SSL security protocols and new SIP phone options from Yealink, Aastra and Polycom. A Web-based mobile client is due out later in 2013. (more…)

Zultys MX 8.0 Enhances Resiliency, Adds Outbound Dialer
Zultys introduces new capabilities for its MX30 and MX250 IP PBX SIP-based systems that target small to mid-size businesses and the lower-end of the large enterprise telephony market. New Release 8.0 software improves the disaster recovery and resiliency capabilities with automatic cross-site failover for IP phones and introduces a new outbound dialer application among other enhancements. (more…)

Quick Takes

8x8, Aastra, Alteva, Avaya, Broadvox, Comcast, ESI, Microsoft, Mitel, Toshiba, Verizon…

New Releases

Digium Introduces Higher Capacity Switchvox SMB Appliances

Digium (www.digium.com) introduces two new higher capacity Switchvox hardware appliances for its Switchvox SMB IP-PBX designed for small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs).  Switchvox is a turnkey PBX solution based on Digium’s Asterisk open source software, but with server hardware and pre-installed Switchvox software that includes user-friendly features and applications such as the Switchboard Web-based call control panel, advanced call center functionality and graphical reports, IVR, unified messaging and more. In 2007, Digium acquired Switchvox and its SMB solutions. 

The newly-introduced Switchvox 450 and 470 appliances are suitable for larger applications, supporting 500 or 600 users in a single system and bringing the number of available appliances to five. Switchvox SMB was already available on three appliance models – Switchvox 65 (30 users), Switchvox 305 (150 users) and Switchvox 355 (400 users). The new appliances have more memory and processing power which allows for more concurrent call processing, more call recordings and more simultaneous conference participants than the earlier models. 

In addition to improved capacity and performance, the new Switchvox 400 series appliances are environmentally-friendly with a smaller footprint and weight and reduced power consumption compared to earlier models.

The feature set is the same for all appliance models, so customers can easily migrate to a higher capacity appliance without sacrificing their investment in software or licenses.

The Switchvox SMB Line-up

  • Switchvox 65: Designed for small businesses, this desktop or wall-mount appliance supports 1-30 users, up to 12 concurrent calls and up to five simultaneous conference users; an optional cold spare unit can be configured for failover. 
  • Switchvox 305: This desktop, rack-mount or wall-mount appliance is suitable for small and mid-sized businesses that require up to 150 users, up to 45 concurrent calls and up to 15 simultaneous conference participants; an optional cold spare unit can be configured for failover. 
  • Switchvox 355: A more powerful redundant rack-mount server, the 355 includes a RAID controller with mirrored drives, redundant power supplies and optional cold spare unit for failover; Switchvox 355 is designed for mid-sized businesses, handling 1-400 users, up to 75 concurrent calls and 30 simultaneous conference participants.
  • Switchvox 450: The new 450 features a redundant rack-mount server and a RAID controller with mirrored drives and redundant power supplies, but with more processing power to handle mid-sized or larger business needs. Switchvox 450 supports 1-500 users, 125 concurrent calls and up to 45 simultaneous conference users.
  • Switchvox 470: The new 470 provides the fastest processing power in the Switchvox appliance line-up, supporting larger businesses with up to 600 users, 150 concurrent calls and 50 simultaneous conference users. Switchvox 470 has a redundant rack-mount form factor, a RAID controller with mirrored drives and redundant power supplies.

Availability: The Switchvox 450 and 470 Appliances are available as of April 9, 2013 and priced at $9,850 USD and $12,975 USD, respectively. The new appliances (and the earlier appliances) support the latest Switchvox software version 5.7.1. In March 2013, Digium introduced a hosted version of Switchvox SMB called Switchvox Cloud; businesses can subscribe for a monthly service fee to access telephone features and unified communications (UC) applications without having to deploy or maintain any system equipment on-site.


NEC UNIVERGE Cloud Services: 'All NEC' from A-Z

NEC (www.necam.com) reports positive momentum for its new hosted/cloud UC service called NEC UNIVERGE Cloud Services or nUCaaS (NEC Unified Communications as a Service). Available in North America exclusively through NEC channel partners, the new service has been designed with dealers in mind. NEC has developed an easy-to-use dashboard and customer quoting tool and offers financial support to encourage its dealers to add the new subscription-based service (a recurring revenue model) to their traditional telephony equipment portfolio. More than 80 NEC dealers have signed up to sell the service since it launched in March.

NEC explains that UNIVERGE Cloud Services is not just voice-as-a-service, but offers full UC functionality, including IP telephony, unified messaging, mobility, presence and Instant Messaging along with planned contact center, Web collaboration, video conferencing, Fixed Mobile Convergence and other features – all designed for easy access as hosted services for a simple monthly fee. Prior to general availability in March 2013, NEC tested the service internally and with select customers to ensure the ordering, deployment and turn-over process was simple and smooth.

Why the Cloud? The benefits of hosted/cloud UC services have been well-discussed, and many businesses, particularly smaller businesses, are finding that a fixed-rate (pay-as-you-go), quickly deployable hosted/cloud solution is appealing in today’s challenging and uncertain economic environment. Additionally, all analyst forecasts point to very strong growth in the hosted/cloud UC market, so it’s easy to see why traditional business telephony vendors like NEC are moving quickly to add hosted UC services to their portfolio of premises-based IP-PBX, contact center, messaging and other UC solutions. Whether an end-user decides to subscribe to a hosted service or prefers to purchase and install PBX equipment on-site, communication providers that offer both hosted and on-premises options are in an excellent position to meet any requirement. Read more on this hybrid premises-cloud trend.

NEC’s Hybrid Approach

NEC's cloud service uses the company’s UNIVERGE 3C as the core software. Using the same software stream for both the premises and cloud offers lends itself nicely to hybrid environments in which a business can flexibly deploy on-site equipment and subscribe to hosted/cloud services as needed - the same familiar features are available in either deployment model. The cloud service can act as a disaster recovery solution for a premises-based UNIVERGE 3C system, or vice versa. Or, a business can install the on-premises 3C solution at a main office and take advantage of the cloud service at its branch locations. Though UNIVERGE 3C software can scale to handle as many as 30,000 users, NEC classifies the target market for its cloud service as ideal for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) with 20-250 extensions. (NEC previously marketed UNIVERGE 3C under the brand Sphericall, a software-based IP-PBX acquired in 2007 when NEC Corporation of Tokyo Japan purchased Sphere Communications.)

Exclusively NEC

What sets NEC apart from other hosted PBX and cloud UC providers? NEC is unique in that it owns and manages the technology and transport from end-to-end, including the servers within the NEC-owned data centers where the UNIVERGE software is hosted to the telephone on the end-user’s desk. Other hosted providers that rely on third parties for phones, routers, data center facilities and the network backbone may not be able to guarantee a high quality of service (QoS). NEC, however, manufactures all components, including the end points, data switches, routers and cabling, continues to develop the 3C call control software and applications, owns the strategically-placed, Tier 3 data centers, manages a 24x7 Network Operations Center  and even manages the MPLS network to avoid QoS issues when transporting voice, data and video over the Internet.

In addition, NEC designed its cloud service to be dealer-friendly, allowing channel partners to add the service to their portfolio without investing a lot of money. This is important as dealers used to selling equipment may not see the financial benefit to selling a pay-as-you-go subscription service in which the revenue is collected over a period of time. NEC is providing strong financial support that includes upfront payments, special promotions and rewards programs that will ease dealers into the cloud's recurring-revenue model. NEC Financial Services acts as the single financial focal point for both reseller and customer, processing a single payment for the reseller and supplying a single customer bill for rentals, cloud services and long distance charges.

Three User Packages

NEC UNIVERGE Cloud Services come in three simplified packages for varying user types which can be mixed and matched as needed. Some functionality can be added a-la-carte if needed such as voicemail, unified messaging, fax and call recording. Additional advanced applications are on the roadmap for later this year, including contact center, Fixed Mobile Convergence and Web collaboration.

  • Basic: The Basic user package ($20/user/month) is suitable for lobbies and common areas. It includes standard voice features like call waiting, Caller ID, transfer, forward and 911 service.
  • UC Standard: General office users and receptionists will likely choose the UC Standard package ($40/user/month) which builds upon Basic to add voicemail, desktop call control, IM and presence capabilities, as well as 125 minutes per month of pooled long distance calling.
  • UC Premium: The UC Premium package ($50/user/month) includes all Basic and Standard functionality, but addresses the needs of power users and executives that require unified messaging, softphone, mobility, video and call recording; this package also includes 250 minutes per month of pooled long distance calling. Local calling is free with NEC’s MPLS network.

At the recent NEC Advantage 2013 consultant/dealer conference in Phoenix, NEC was clear about its commitment to the future of communications, a future that is less about physical equipment and more about software, open standards, virtualization and the cloud.  A number of traditional telecom manufacturers that have begun offering hosted/cloud UC services are reporting that their cloud division revenue is already exceeding the revenue from their premises-based business. This encouraging trend, coupled with analyst forecasts that indicate strong growth in the hosted/cloud UC market, make it certain that vendors like NEC will be investing heavily in hosted/cloud offers going forward. It’s an exciting time in the enterprise communications industry. New and improved cloud services, including hybrid premises-cloud offers, are quickly taking center stage.




ShoreTel Adds Visual Dashboard, Introduces Small Business Package and New Devices

ShoreTel (www.shoretel.com) has introduced several new capabilities recently, including an update to its premises-based ShoreTel business phone system that is known for a simple and unique, distributed architecture suitable for businesses small or large (scales from 24-20,000 users in a single system image). A new version of the company’s call processing software, ShoreTel 14, enhances the diagnostic and monitoring capabilities of the ShoreTel Director management interface with a new dashboard that gives administrators a visual view into system status and resource utilization across all sites in the network. ShoreTel 14 also supports a new IP DECT phone (ShoreTel IP 930D) for on-site mobility.

Additionally, ShoreTel has refreshed its bundled hardware/software package for smaller businesses (ShoreTel Small Business Edition) and will roll out a new iOS docking station (ShoreTel Dock) this summer.

What’s New?

  • Diagnostics and Monitoring: ShoreTel 14, the latest update to the ShoreTel IP-PBX call processing software, significantly improves the diagnostic and monitoring capabilities of the ShoreTel Director management interface. ShoreTel has taken a big step forward with the new ShoreTel-developed application called ShoreTel Diagnostics & Monitoring Enterprise Edition. This Web-based application is launched directly from ShoreTel Director’s Quick Look page and starts with a high-level, graphical view of six key areas: Call Volume, Call Quality, Bandwidth Utilization, Trunk Group Usage, Feature Usage and Average CPE Usage. Administrators can easily take stock of the overall health of the system and immediately view any anomalies in connections, trunk groups, bandwidth, voice quality, switches or servers with color-coded alerts (informational, warning and critical alerts in green, yellow and red).  Administrators can then drill-down into the site-specific hardware and software elements to get the details needed to diagnose and resolve any issues.
  • On-site Mobility: With ShoreTel 14, the company introduces the new ShoreTel IP 930D DECT phone for on-site mobility. The functionality of ShoreTel’s earlier 3-line IP Phone 230 is incorporated into this new cordless handset that communicates with a base station and repeaters using DECT technology. Mobile staff can make and receive calls via their phone extension as they roam throughout their location. ShoreTel recommends this solution for small and mid-sized enterprises as it typically supports 24-40 users (North America) or 48-80 users (Europe, Australia, New Zealand).
  • Small Business Package: ShoreTel has updated its Small Business Edition (SBE) bundled hardware and software package with additional capacity to 100 users across up to five locations (up from 50 users and three locations with the earlier SBE). The SBE delivers the same ShoreTel feature set, including voicemail, unified messaging, conferencing, basic workgroups, extension mobility and options for more advanced applications, but with reduced capacities at a small business price point that starts as low as $1,995 for a 15-user bundle. Customers deploy a ShoreTel “HQ” (headquarters) server running the SBE 100 software at their primary site for system management, voicemail and other services. The server can be either the new rack-mount ShoreTel UC Server 20 or an industry standard server that meets ShoreTel’s specifications. ShoreTel Voice Switches are deployed for call control and station and trunk connections according to size requirements (up to seven Voice Switches and a total of 100 phones and 100 trunks).
  • iOS Docking Station: This summer, ShoreTel plans to release a new enterprise-grade docking device that attaches an Apple iPhone or iPad mobile device. Users will be able to mount or ‘dock’ their mobile device and use it as their desktop phone, communicating via the dock’s handset or speakerphone over the in-office WiFi network (the Dock is not a phone, rather calls are routed via the ShoreTel Mobility client running on the docked iOS device). The dock also charges the mobile device. Currently supported Apple devices include iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad (3rd generation) and iPod touch (4th generation). ShoreTel Dock ($349 USD) will be available for ShoreTel’s premises-based system and for ShoreTel’s hosted/cloud-based service.

Availability: ShoreTel 14, including the new diagnostic and monitoring dashboard, is available now as a free software upgrade for existing customers under the company’s software assurance plan. Also generally available are the ShoreTel IP 930D DECT phone ($599 for starter system with one handset and one base station) and the SBE 100 small business bundle which starts at $1,995 for 15 users (ShoreTel Voice Switch and licenses, but without the ShoreTel UC Server 20) or $2,495 (ShoreTel Voice Switch and licenses and the ShoreTel UC Server 20).  ShoreTel Dock ($349), due out in third quarter 2013, will be available in the U.S. and English-speaking countries, with other countries to follow.



Vertical MBX IP 2.0 Enhances User Features and Security, Adds SIP Phone Support

Vertical Communications (www.vertical.com) updates its MBX IP system with new user features, security enhancements and support for third party SIP telephones. MBX IP was first introduced in January 2011 in North America and has been positioned as a migration path for large key system needs. The system is a good fit for growing businesses that currently deploy the company’s SBX IP key system or a legacy key system from Comdial or Vodavi (two companies previously acquired by Vertical), or for multi-site networking where the MBX IP is installed at a headquarters location and the SBX IP at the branch sites. MBX IP targets businesses that require 20-200 extensions (though it can scale to 384 extensions).

What’s New?

  • Supervisor Call Recording
    The latest MBX IP software (Release 2.0) enhances the system’s built-in ACD capability that supports 20 or 50 groups depending on the processor board, with 50 agents per group, as well as multiple supervisors and Web-based reporting.  R2.0 adds the ability for supervisors to record agent calls.  
  • Voicemail Feature Parity
    Several voicemail features were added to bring more parity between the SBX IP and MBX IP systems, including rewind/fast forward, pause/start, future delivery, private message mark and confirm receipt.
  • Security Enhancements
    MBX IP 2.0 adds support for TLS/SSL security protocols on IP phone registrations and SRTP for IP phones and strengthens password settings (password length and admin password encryption).
  • Third Party SIP Phones
    MBX IP R2.0 now supports standard SIP telephones and devices, certifying three models thus far: the Yealink T38G Gigabit Color HD phone, the Aastra 6755i with backlit LCD display, context-sensitive softkeys and an XML capability to access custom applications and Polycom’s SoundStation Duo dual-mode analog/IP conference phone. Additional SIP phones will be tested and certified per customer requests. The new third party SIP phone support means greater options for MBX IP customers, and the open SIP technology brings the advantage of interoperability with other vendor’s SIP-based IP-PBXs and hosted platforms (investment protection). 

Some additional solutions for MBX IP are on the roadmap for later in 2013, including a Web-based mobile client, an IP Attendant softphone and a new WiFi handset. A full UC application and an IP DECT system are expected in 2014.

Availability: Vertical MBX IP 2.0 is available as of April 4, 2013. Any existing MBX customer may upgrade to 2.0 at no charge. Vertical also offers the flagship WAVE IP communications system which is recommended for all-IP deployments or for businesses that need for more robust contact center, networking and management. A new ‘all mobile’ version of WAVE IP is due out later in 2013.


Zultys MX 8.0 Enhances Resiliency, Adds Outbound Dialer

Zultys (www.zultys.com) introduces new capabilities for its MX30 and MX250 IP PBX SIP-based systems that target small to mid-size businesses and the lower-end of the large enterprise telephony market. New Release 8.0 software improves the disaster recovery and resiliency capabilities and introduces a new outbound dialer application among other enhancements.

Zultys IP-PBXs are based on Linux and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standards and are designed as all-in-one appliances that are easy to install and maintain. Capabilities like voicemail and ACD are standard features, and other collaborative functions are built-in and license-activated as needed, including unified messaging, softphone, meet-me conferencing, presence and IM and video calling. Additional applications can be added optionally.

What’s new?

  • MXnetwork Redundancy: R8.0 supports automatic cross-site failover for IP phones, Zultys’ MXIE UC clients and call groups, allowing each endpoint to register to an alternate system in the network for continued operation should the local system become unavailable. The new failover capability benefits multi-site environments in which multiple MX30 and MX250 systems are networked; it is possible to connect up to 10,000 users in 128 locations over a Wide Area Network (WAN).
  • Redesigned MXcluster Management Interface: With R8.0, Zultys has clarified the status information and simplified control within its MXcluster Management Interface. Administrators will find it easier to provision MX250 units tied together as a cluster (an MXcluster); up to four MX250 systems (1,000 users) can be clustered at a single location, and an additional system can be added to the cluster for redundancy.
  • MXoutbound Dialer: A new integrated outbound dialer enables automated dialing to an organization’s customer base for applications like appointment reminders, product promotions or emergency notifications. Call messages can be simple statements or more complex surveys with questions and collected responses. MXoutbound requires a separate license to activate and is supported on both MX250 and MX30 systems.
  • Softphone Support for Mac: Zultys’ MXIE UC client application now supports an integrated softphone for Mac OS X systems, allowing users to attach a headset to their Mac computer for phone calling (along with UC capabilities) and eliminating the need for connecting a desktop phone. Softphone support is now available for the MXIE client installed on Windows, Mac OS X, iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

R8.0 also improves the Backup and Restore function, adding historical backup storage, a new graphical interface and support for SFTP and FTPS secure file transfer using SSL/TLS encryption. New automated attendant and interactive voice response monitoring tools are also available to monitor caller interactions in real-time.

Availability: MX Release 8.0 is available as of May 6, 2013 and is free for existing customers with a current software subscription.


Quick Takes

Quick Takes:

8x8 (www.8x8.com) upgrades its cloud-based call center solution, Virtual Contact Center, which is available as a standalone service or an integrated component of the 8x8 Virtual Office hosted PBX business phone system. Virtual Contact Center V7.1 improves features for agents, supervisors and administrators, including CRM support for Zoho (already supported Microsoft Dynamics ZenDesk, Salesforce and NetSuite), roles-based management for greater system security and control, user interface improvements, new IVR scheduling options and more. In other news, the 8x8 Virtual Office VoIP phone service adds Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) security standards compliance.

Aastra (www.aastra.com) updates its Aastra 400 IP phone system for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) that is sold in numerous European countries, as well as in Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey. R3.0 introduces a new dual-homing capability that allows Aastra 6700i SIP phones to register to a backup server; in the event of a server or network failure, users will be able to continue communications without disruption. The new release also simplifies the installation process (blocks of users can be added at once) and adds a new Web-based Self Service Portal for users to configure their own phone settings. In other news, Aastra announces Solidus eCare contact center V8.2 which introduces a call-back option, outbound proactive campaigns and new BluStar Agent features.

Alteva (www.alteva.com) enhances its Alteva Archive call recording service with a new more intuitive user interface in a dashboard format and an advanced search capability to quickly find recorded calls based on user-defined categories and text comments. It is also possible to insert electronic markers in recorded calls and to attach documents to recorded calls. E-mail alerts can be sent based on user-defined business rules.

Avaya (www.avaya.com) has replaced the Standard and Enterprise Editions of its Avaya Aura platform with three new Avaya Aura suites of UC, mobility and collaboration applications meant to simplify the selection and deployment of UC capabilities. The new suites build upon one another, starting with the Foundation suite for core telephony, messaging, IM/presence and clients. The Mobility suite adds single number reach, BYOD, secure remote access, and the Collaboration suite adds video and multi-mode conferencing. The suites have simplified pricing and licensing that is expected to ease the selection and deployment of UC capabilities across an organization.

BluIP Inc. (www.bluip.com), a wholesale Broadsoft service provider, introduces a cloud-based service for hoteliers, integrating hosted VoIP services with SDD Inc.’s (www.jazz-fusion.net) JAZZ Fusion hospitality software. JAZZ Fusion is a set of software tools that includes call accounting, guest HSIA billing, personalization, technology integration and middleware, communications profitability services, internet and VoIP integration guest services. Integrators and their service providers can offer a privately-branded hotel voice solution to hotels and resorts in their market area.

Broadview Networks (www.broadviewnet.com) has acquired select unified communications assets from developer Common Voices, Inc. (http://commonvoices.com/), including the source code for Common Voices’ NowMessage unified messaging application, NowConnect Automated Attendant and NowThere voicemail platform. Common Voices’ development team will join Broadview Networks, and the ongoing development of these technologies will augment and differentiate Broadview’s OfficeSuite cloud-based phone service.

Broadvox (www.broadvox.com), a managed business VoIP provider, introduces a Call Bursting feature with its SIP Trunking service. The new feature handles  'bursts' of unexpected call volumes by utilizing additional call sessions beyond the amount purchased for peak calling times. This is helpful for businesses or organizations that occasionally see bursts of increased calling activity, such as the increased calling activity a school may see on a snow day. In other news, Broadvox has launched promotional pricing that includes two low-rate plans: Unlimited Local Calling and Nationwide Calling, each with a free Polycom SoundPoint IP 335 phone, free activation and free installation.

collab9 (www.collab9.com), a Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution service provider, expands its hosted Enterprise Communications Services (ECS) offering with a Workforce Optimization (WFO) Suite from Calabrio Inc. (www.calabrio.com). The Calabrio ONE WFO software includes call recording, quality management, workforce management, speech analytics and intelligent performance dashboards and helps to differentiate collab9’s contact center and customer care applications from those of other Cisco HCS providers. Currently, Calabrio ONE is available through Calabrio and its partner network.

Comcast Business (http://business.comcast.com/), a unit of Comcast Cable, announces that its cloud-based voice and UC service called Comcast Business VoiceEdge has become available in the Denver, Colorado area. The service is now offered across the U.S. in 39 states. Customers choose from two user feature packages depending on feature needs, Standard User or Unified Communications User, and sign up for one-, two- or three-year terms. Polycom SoundPoint IP 335 phones are included free with the 3-year term. Recently, Comcast was listed as the top hosted VoIP provider in North America for the second year in a row by market research firm Infonetics Research in its annual North America Business VoIP Service Leadership Scorecard.

Digium (www.digium.com) introduces new Switchvox 450 and 470 appliances to address larger applications (support for 500 and 600 users). See related write-up above for more details (“Digium Introduces Higher Capacity Switchvox SMB Appliances”).

Ericsson-LG (www.ericssonlg.com) has unveiled the new LIP-9070 IP desktop video conference phone with 7-inch color touchscreen. Compatible with the company’s iPECS IP-PBX family of systems, the enterprise-level desktop phone runs the Android operating system and enables a high value end-user experience with a multi-touch user interface, video calling and value-added services via the phone’s display such as RSS feeds, Multimedia Caller ID and database search.  General availability was scheduled for April 2013.

Estech Systems, Inc. or ESI (www.esi-estech.com) introduces a new cloud-based billing application called Abillity that automatically captures billable time spent on mobile devices, including Android-based desktop phones like the Grandstream GXP2200 Enterprise Multimedia Phone and Android-based smartphones. Call records are stored and accessed via the Abillity Web portal and can be edited and exported into an accounting system. ESI highlights Abillity’s usefulness to the legal industry, noting that the application fills a billing gap experienced by lawyers who often lose valuable billable hours from phone calls that are not tracked.  An iOS version is in development.

Grandstream Networks (www.grandstream.com) introduces the IP Cam Viewer mobile application for remote video surveillance. Users can conveniently monitor a Grandstream GXV IP video camera remotely using an Android, Apple or BlackBerry smartphone or tablet. The Lite version is a free download from the respective App Store, while the IP Cam Viewer Pro version downloads for $3.99 and adds audio (for select devices), monitoring of unlimited cameras, a video storage capability and more.  In other news, broadband Service Provider VOIPo (www.voipo.com) has certified Grandstream ATAs, allowing residential and SOHO customers to use existing analog phones with the VOIPo hosted PBX service. Also, Grandstream’s GXP Series IP Phones are certified with Genesys (www.genesyslab.com) call center and customer service solutions.

Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) has removed the “Hybrid Voice” option from its Lync Online hosted service that gave customers only a subset of Lync’s Enterprise Voice features. Microsoft intends to deliver full Enterprise Voice capabilities in its hosted service, Office 365/Lync Online, within the next 18 months which they state is preferable and more optimal than investing in the short-term, hybrid approach (read more). In the meantime, Microsoft will continue to support other hybrid scenarios such as a premises-based Lync Server used in conjunction with Exchange Online, or a split domain scenario in which some users are registered to an on-site Lync Server (for full enterprise voice features) and others associated with the Office 365 cloud service. In other news, Microsoft is previewing Skype for Outlook.com in the UK (the U.S. and Germany are next); Outlook users can make/receive Skype voice and video calls from an Outlook inbox. Skype for Outlook.com is the email service from Microsoft that replaced Hotmail.

Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) has officially announced the availability of Lync-Skype connectivity/federation as of May 29, 2013. At its first-ever Lync Conference in San Diego, CA held earlier this year, Microsoft highlighted its alignment of the Lync and Skype teams under one division and discussed the Lync-Skype integrations that would follow. As the first step, Lync 2013 now supports federation (sharing) of presence, instant messaging and voice calls between Skype clients and Lync users (video expected in 2014). Skype users will require the latest Skype client (available from Skype.com) and a Microsoft account (read more).

Mitel (www.mitel.com) has introduced the Mitel AnyWare Cloud Contact Center service for small and mid-size businesses. Initially offered in the U.S., the new service is available to Mitel AnyWare hosted PBX/UC subscribers and provides customer service capabilities, including Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), real-time reporting and integration with CRM applications such as Salesforce.com, SugarCRM and Microsoft Dynamics CRM; the service allows up to 100 participants (agents), including 10 supervisors. Mitel AnyWare Cloud Contact Center is fully managed by Mitel in data centers.

NEC (www.necam.com) is offering 0% financing on UNIVERGE SV8000 Series and SL1100 Communication systems installed by authorized NEC Corporation of America dealers in the United States. The new offer, which ends August 30, 2013, will help customers upgrade their current communication infrastructure more affordably; the lease term is 48 or 60 months. In other news, NEC is broadening its cloud portfolio by offering a cloud-hosted virtual desktop (desktop-as-a-service) based on the Desktone Platform from Desktone, Inc. (www.desktone.com); the new service enables access to a complete Windows desktop from any device, including end user tablets, smartphones, laptops and PCs (general availability scheduled for third quarter 2013).

Polycom (www.polycom.com) RealPresence CloudAXIS Suite is now generally available. The suite is a software extension of the Polycom RealPresence Platform for private and public cloud deployments (enterprise and partner/service provider editions available). The CloudAXIS Suite extends web video conferencing to anyone. By using a Web browser and a Web camera on a PC, a smartphone or a tablet, Polycom customers can add anyone on Skype, Facebook, Google Talk or other business video applications to their video conferences.

ShoreTel (www.shoretel.com) announces several new products recently, including a new version of its call control software (ShoreTel 14), a new IP DECT phone, a hardware/software package for smaller businesses (Small Business Edition 100) and the ShoreTel Dock iOS docking station. See related write-up above for more details (“ShoreTel Adds Visual Dashboard, Introduces Small Business Package and New Devices”).

Tadiran Telecom (www.tadirantele.com) is now bundling an IP multimedia contact center capability into its Aeonix Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) software platform. Previously, contact center functionality required a separate server, so the integrated Aeonix Contact Center allows configuration and management as a single solution. The Aeonix platform became generally available in January 2013 for large, distributed organizations; it is an open standards, Linux-based platform (deployed on-site or as a cloud solution) that supports 10-15,000 registered endpoints in a clustered, multi-server, fault-tolerant configuration (to 100,000 endpoints in subsequent releases).

Telinta, Inc. (www.telinta.com), a VoIP service provider has developed auto-provisioning profiles for IP business phones from snom (www.snom.com), namely the snom 7xx and 8xx series phones.  The phone profiles, accessed from Telinta’s Web portal, eliminate time-consuming manual configuration and make it easier to deploy large numbers of snom phones automatically. Upon connection to an IP network, the snom phones automatically recognize Telinta’s provisioning servers to download a complete configuration profile.

Toshiba (www.telecom.toshiba.com) introduces the new IPedge Application Server for its Strata CIX business phone system, bringing IPedge advanced applications – unified messaging, unified communications, mobility and collaboration - to its Strata CIX customers. This includes the IPMobility mobile client for iOS and Android users, allowing Strata CIX users to take advantage of single-number reach, call control and visual voicemail using their smartphone device. The new application server is also available for legacy Strata CTX systems that have been upgraded to Strata CIX. The IPedge Application Server comes in three system sizes: IPedge EP Application Server (up to 40 users), IPedge EC Application Server (up to 200 users) and IPedge EM Application Server (up to 800 users). 

Toshiba (www.telecom.toshiba.com) announces that its VIPedge cloud UC service now offers the Call Manager Mobile client for iPhone (an Android client was already available). With the client installed, users can make and receive office calls via their office extension, share presence status information and exchange Instant Messages with other users via their iOS or Android-based smartphone. The per-user license for Call Manager Mobile is included at no extra cost with the VIPedge cloud service. Windows Phone and other mobile platforms will be developed next.

Verizon (www.verizonenterprise.com) announces the Virtual Communications Express mobile application for iOS and Android mobile clients. Subscribers to the company’s Virtual Communications Express hosted phone service (introduced in October 2012) can download the mobile clients for free to use a smartphone as their office extension for making and receiving calls; calls placed from the application will appear to recipients to come from the user’s office number. Users will also be able to change feature settings and access the company phone directory.

Vertical Communications (www.vertical.com) enhances MBX IP system for SMBs; new R2.0 software enhances contact center functions, IP security and SIP support. See related write-up above for more details (“Vertical MBX IP 2.0 Enhances User Features and Security, Adds SIP Phone Support”).

Zultys (www.zultys.com) introduces a new software release for itsMX30 and MX250 IP PBX SIP-based systems; MX R8.0 adds auto cross-site failover capability, a new integrated outbound dialer and a softphone for Mac UC client.  See related write-up above for more details (“Zultys MX 8.0 Enhances Resiliency, Adds Outbound Dialer”).




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