Grandstream Re-enters the IP-PBX Market
Grandstream Networks (www.grandstream.com) has re-entered the IP-PBX market with the UCM6100 IP-PBX, a new all-in-one communications appliance aimed at small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), multi-site offices and home users currently using a legacy PBX. UCM6100 is a single, compact unit that is easy to install and manage and enables some more advanced voice, video, mobility and data capabilities for SMBs, without the licensing fees often required by competing solutions.
This is not the first IP-PBX from Grandstream, a designer and manufacturer of SIP phones, IP Video phones and analog adapters and gateways. The company initially entered the PBX market in 2008 with the GXE502x IP-PBX and then discontinued the product in 2011. Grandstream’s GXP telephones, video phones and gateways utilize the SIP protocol so they continue to interoperate with most service providers and third party open standards-based SIP platforms.
Grandstream, however, has seen a need for a feature-packed, yet very affordable SMB appliance. Phil Bowers, Marketing Communications Manager at Grandstream Networks explains,“We have designed our UCM6100 series with a set of features, an aggressive price point and no licensing fees to enable our resellers and distributors to win new clients by moving legacy PBX users over to an IP PBX system. The UCM6100 series packages all of the important features SMBs need in an easy-to-manage IP PBX at a price point that makes moving to VoIP a logical decision. Our UCM6100 Series provides a simple, cost-effective, initial implementation that will expand the IP PBX marketplace for other offerings by eliminating the traditional barriers that keep many potential users from moving to a VoIP system.”
Like the earlier appliance, the new UCM6100 Series promises both affordability (list price starts at $399) and advanced functionality for the SMB, combining voice, data, fax and video communications within a single, compact unit. However, the UCM6100 Series is completely redesigned with robust hardware and runs Asterisk open source software that is expandable, customizable and connects to any SIP-compatible endpoint, application or platform (the earlier GXE502x system used proprietary hardware and software).
UCM6100 also scales to 500 endpoint registrations for up to 500 users (versus 100 on the earlier system) and supports 30-60 concurrent calls and up to 32 conference attendees depending on the model type. Additional capabilities include Gigabit Ethernet connectivity and integrated Power over Ethernet, built-in USB and SD peripheral ports and 4GB Flash Memory for storing voicemails, auto attendant, IVR, music on hold and call recordings.
The UCM6100 Series supports popular voice telephony features, but also enables some built-in advanced functionality without any additional cost, as follows:
- Voice – The system supports typical phone system features such as voicemail, auto attendant, intercom and group paging, call forwarding, park and transfer, ring/hunt groups, but also more advanced capabilities not always included in the standard system price such as a customizable, 5-level IVR with the auto attendant and a call center (ACD) function that has several routing options (based on skills, availability and busy level), call queues and in-queue announcements. The UCM6100 Series also has an audio conferencing capability with up to three or six password-protected bridges for 25 or 32 participants per conference depending on the UCM model.
- Video – UCM6100 supports point-to-point video calling and 3-way video conferencing using any SIP video endpoint, including Grandstream’s GXV3140 or GXV3175 IP Multimedia Phones. The system also integrates with SIP-compliant door access or video surveillance cameras for security and monitoring, even remotely. Grandstream recently introduced a range of GXV HD IP outdoor cameras designed for harsh outdoor conditions and 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.
- Mobility – Users will be able to register a smartphone or laptop as an extension on the system, for making and receiving calls whether they are in or out of the office. The system also supports softphone clients such as CounterPath’s Bria for audio and video (downloadable from the Google Play and Apple App Store) and Grandstream’s DP715 DECT phone for in-building and campus wireless needs. As noted above, Grandstream’s IP Cam Viewer mobile application is also available remote video surveillance using a mobile device.
- Data – The system collects Call Detail Records (CDRs) which are easily accessed via the built-in Web interface for viewing phone usage or for billing, as well as other data solutions like call recording, corporate directories across locations, sending voicemail and fax messages to an e-mail account and a built-in system backup feature that saves configuration settings and files to an internal flash drive or an external SD card.
- Web Administration - A Web browser interface for administration makes it easy to manage the system, locally or remotely. A 128x32 pixel graphic LCD indicates system status and displays a menu of options for viewing events, device and network information (an admin interface for users is in development). The system is ‘plug and play’ with auto discovery and registration of SIP endpoints (Grandstream SIP endpoints now, and other vendor’s SIP endpoints in testing). Additional phones and offices are easily added using the Web interface (Grandstream refers to this as “Zero Configuration Provisioning”).
Grandstream is offering the UCM6100 IP-PBX appliance in four model types; each utilizes the SIP protocol for internal and external communications (50 certified SIP trunking providers), but have differing analog trunk and station port configurations for devices such as fax machines and interconnecting PSTN trunks to the appliance. All hardware and software is included in the price, with no additional license fees to activate functionality and no recurring costs. And, Grandstream states that future firmware updates will be free for the life of the system.
- UCM6102 ($399): two PSTN Line FXO ports, two analog telephone FXS ports
- UCM6104 ($499): four PSTN Line FXO ports, two analog telephone FXS ports
- UCM6108 ($949): eight PSTN Line FXO ports, two analog telephone FXS ports
- UCM6116 ($1,799): 16 PSTN Line FXO ports, two analog telephone FXS ports
Availability: Grandstream Networks UCM6100 IP-PBX is available now worldwide. A series of feature updates are expected over the coming months, including additional multi-lingual voice prompts, auto call-recording options and enhanced Zero Configuration provisioning.
Mitel Rebrands, Enhances UC Suite and Simplifies SMB Administration
Recently, Mitel (www.mitel.com) introduced new product naming that simplifies and better aligns the company’s products into three solution categories: MiCollab for collaboration and unified communications tools, MiContactCenter for customer service and contact center solutions, and MiVoice for voice platforms and phones. Mitel Communications Director (MCD) is now called MiVoice Business, and Mitel 5000 is now MiVoice Small Business. New MiCloud branding is replacing the current naming of Mitel’s hosted offers, including Mitel AnyWare hosted PBX service for small and mid-sized businesses in the U.S. and Canada.
MiCollab (Mitel Application Suite)
With the new Mitel product naming, the Mitel Application Suite or MAS is now known as MiCollab, a suite of Mitel applications for messaging, audio and Web conferencing and mobility running on a single server. The latest Release 5.0 adds integration with Google Cloud and Google Apps, including calendar, email, instant messaging, presence and contact management features (so, for example, a user’s presence status can be determined by their Google calendar, and Google contacts sync with MiCollab contacts for click-to-call functionality).
MiCollab 5.0 also supports a virtual appliance deployment that allows the suite to run with Mitel’s call control (voice) application on the same virtualized server, reducing resources and simplifying the overall solution deployment. Additionally, Mitel is offering a free MiCollab Client application, a pared down version of Mitel’s Unified Communicator Advanced application that enables basic desktop call control. For more functionality such as presence, IM, messaging, mobility and collaboration, Mitel offers three licensed UC clients (Entry, Standard and Premium).
MiVoice for Lync
Mitel also introduced MiVoice for Lync, a new plug-in and alternative to Microsoft Lync Enterprise Voice for call control and telephony features. Businesses can utilize Microsoft Lync for their presence, instant messaging and conferencing needs, while deploying Mitel’s fully-featured premises-based call control platform, MiVoice Business software (formerly called MCD), for their voice communications needs. MiVoice Business is flexibly deployed on one of Mitel’s 3300 ICP controllers, an Industry Standard Server (ISS) or in a virtualized environment (VMware). With this integration, businesses will also be able to take advantage of Mitel’s array of contact center and other applications, without the need for third party solutions as required by Microsoft Lync.
MiVoice Small Business (Mitel 5000)
In June, Mitel quietly rolled out a new software release, Version 6.0, for the Mitel 5000 telephony platform for smaller businesses (now called MiVoice Small Business). Mitel 5000 is a digital/IP communications platform that targets the 15-75 user market, but which scales higher if needed; the current Mitel 5000 HX Controller (fully configured) can support 250 IP phones and 240 digital phones at the same time with added hardware.
- Administration - MiVoice Small Business V6.0 adds a number of administrative improvements, including a new User Creation Wizard to simply the creation or modification of users within one window and a new one-click process for backing up music-on-hold, voicemail and other data. Additionally, the system can now send out alarms via email and text message instead of requiring the administrator to visibly check the system display. And, an Administrative Web Portal (AWP) is now available for the approved administrator to modify the user database.
- Mobile Devices - Users will benefit from several new device options, namely Mitel 5603, 5604 and 5607 SIP-DECT handsets (available globally) for in-building mobility in general office locations or more demanding environments like healthcare, manufacturing, and industrial environments that may have stringent security and safety requirements.
- Video - Users can now take advantage of the audio variant of Mitel’s MiVoice Conference Unit (formerly Mitel UC360 Collaboration Point), an all-in-one multimedia collaboration appliance that enables 4-party conferencing for personal office and small group meetings (the unit works with SIP-based PBXs – Mitel's and qualified third party SIP-based platforms).
Availability: MiVoice Small Business (Mitel 5000) V6.0 is generally available as of June 2013 and is sold in the U.S., Canada and the UK. Customers with the earlier CS 5200/5400/5600 versions can upgrade with V6.0 software for free with a Software Assurance plan.
NEC Enhances SMB Platforms, Adds UC Desktop Web Client
NEC (www.necam.com) continues to update the features and functionality of its small and mid-size business (SMB) converged platforms, the UNIVERGE SV8100 and UNIVERGE SV8300 Communications Servers. These Communications Servers feature a stackable architecture, support for both VoIP and circuit-switch technology and centralized management and offer a range of applications that are available as a card option or are easily activated by licenses. New software releases in 2013 improve and simplify the functionality of each system.
UNIVERGE SV8100 targets SMBs with up to 512 users. The latest Release 9.0 software improves the call monitoring feature, now allowing any call to be monitored. Previously, use of this feature required that the system be configured for ACD, and only ACD agents could be monitored. In addition, administrators can now remotely backup, restore and upgrade the system using Web Pro (the browser-based administration application) instead of the Windows-based PC Pro administration tool.
The UNIVERGE SV8100 UC Desktop Suite for PC-based call management has a number of new capabilities that enhance the unified communications (UC) experience. UC Desktop Suite R6.1 adds a new UC Web Client for handling incoming and outgoing calls through a Web browser interface (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari). This provides a good option for remote users and Apple Mac users since the Web Client server is pre-installed on the system’s InServer Blade and requires no client installation on a user’s PC. A large number of functions are similar to the Windows-based UC Desktop client, including popular call handling features, access to local and shared contacts, directory search, instant messaging and system-wide BLF.
Additionally, UC Desktop Suite R6.1 improves the voicemail (InMail) integration by enabling voicemail greetings to change automatically according to a user’s presence status; users no longer have to dial into the voicemail system to alter their greeting. (InMail integration is not available with the new UC Web Client.)
Availability: NEC UNIVERGE SV8100 Communications Server Release 9.0 is available as of June 2013 and is no charge for new SV8100 systems or for existing customers that have Software Assurance.
For businesses on the higher end of the SMB spectrum, NEC offers the UNIVERGE SV8300 Communications Server that scales to 1,536 users and supports additional applications more suitable for mid-size businesses, including NEC’s UC for Enterprise (UCE) collaboration suite.
The latest R8.0 software improves system reliability with a dual CPU configuration for the expansion units (specifically units 2, 3 and 4). There is also support for NEC’s new Gigabit IP phones (DT730CG and DT730DG) and energy-saving automatic power on/off control for NEC digital multi-line phones, among other enhancements. For hospitality environments, capacity has been increased to 750 suite rooms (up from 128) and a new VIP wake-up alert feature is available for the UCE Attendant, along with a few other features.
Availability: NEC UNIVERGE SV8300 Communications Server Release 8.0 is available as of January 2013 and is no charge for new SV8300 systems or for existing customers that have Software Assurance. SV8300 R9.0 software will bring additional functionality in the October 2013 timeframe.
Vertical Updates Wave IP with More Built-in Features
Vertical Communications (www.vertical.com) releases new software for Wave IP, the company’s lead telephony system for the small and mid-sized business (SMB) market and larger distributed organizations. The WAVE IP UC and IP-PBX appliance incorporates the company’s ‘Applications Inside’ architecture, embedding all applications within the system software for a single license fee. Most of the functionality is standard, while a few of the more advanced applications require license key activation. New R4.0 software adds meet-me conferencing and several customer service applications, among other new features.
To recap, Wave IP represents the integration of product lines following the merger years ago of four telephony vendors (Artisoft, Vertical Networks, Comdial and Vodavi) into one company, now known as Vertical Communications. Vertical sells two versions of the system, Wave IP 500 (10-50 users) for smaller, cost-sensitive businesses and Wave IP 2500 (30-500 users) for SMBs and larger distributed organizations. Each version delivers the same functionality and applications, and no additional hardware is needed for any of the applications, making it a true, single box solution (it is possible to stack expansion units for additional digital and analog capacity above the native analog/digital support, but all IP connectivity is handled within the single box).
The WAVE IP user license which lists for just $100 per user is a full license that includes support for enterprise telephony features, voicemail and mobile twinning, as well as all of the built-in applications, including Vertical’s ViewPoint desktop call management application for PC-based access to telephone features, message management, call recording and archiving, conferencing, viewing presence status information and exchanging instant messages with other ViewPoint users. ViewPoint Softphone is also included and can be used as a primary phone (no license required as of R4.0); this reduces the need and expense of traditional desktop phones. In 2012, Vertical added the WAVE ViewPoint Mobile license-activated application for Apple iOS and Android devices, giving users convenient access to ViewPoint functionality from their mobile device.
In addition to WAVE IP’s built-in applications, there are three add-on applications that can be installed and activated with additional licenses: (1) Wave Contact Center ($250 per agent), (2) Call Classifier for database look-ups and (3) WaveNet for networking up to 100 systems. Call Classifier and WaveNet are server licenses, so a single license supports all users. No extra hardware is required for this functionality which translates into cost savings over competing vendors’ similar offers.
What’s New with Wave IP 4.0?
- Embedded Meet-me Conferencing – The new R4.0 software includes support for a meet-me conference room for each user (up to 24 participants) with no additional licenses or hardware required. Users can access the conference from any endpoint, including a ViewPoint desktop or mobile client. This functionality adds to the existing ad-hoc conference feature (100 parties across all conferences); Vertical has also supported certified third-party conferencing products.
- Outbound Appointment Reminders and Surveys – This new IVR application automates outbound calls, such as for appointment reminders or emergency notifications, using CSV-formatted customer data. A secondary application, Customer Survey, enables automated outbound surveys with questions and collected responses. No extra hardware, software or service contracts are needed for this functionality. Note that Wave IP already has a native voice self-service application (IVR) to automate routine tasks and customer inquiries.
- Campaign Tracker – This new add-on application tracks calls associated with print and electronic campaigns and generates real-time reports. The standard Campaign Tracker license is a single system license for all users and includes Vertical’s Call Classifier license (there is an upgrade license for those who already have Call Classifier).
Additional R4.0 capabilities include pre-configured support for network protocols such as OpenVPN (for remote and mobile access to the system), STUN (Simple Traversal of User Datagram Protocol Through Network Address Translators) for assisting devices behind a firewall or router with their packet routing and TLS (Transport Layer Security) which enables integration with other vendors’ applications like Gmail and Microsoft Office 365.
Availability: Wave IP 4.0 software will ship with any new Wave IP 500/2500 system, while current Wave customers with a subscription can upgrade at no cost if their Wave Server has the correct minimum level of software. WAVE IP is a global offer available in North America, EMEA, APAC and Latin America.
Aastra (www.aastra.com) introduces a new release (R8.2) of its Solidus eCare all-in-one contact center that enhances the integration with social media sites. Contact center agents can easily communicate with customers via platforms such as Twitter and Facebook using social media tabs within the Aastra BluStar Agent GUI; this and additional integrations are possible via Aastra’s Open Media Connect interface. In other news, Aastra introduces the new S850i wireless conference phone with wireless speaker and base unit that works with the Aastra 400 and 5000, Clearspan and MX-ONE communications systems, as well as third party SIP call managers.
Aspect Software (www.aspect.com) acquires Voxeo Corporation, a provider of hosted and on-premises IVR and self-service solutions and Communications Enabled Business Processes. The acquisition expands Aspect’s product portfolio and the company’s ability to offer cloud, hybrid and premises-based solutions, meeting the needs of today’s businesses looking for flexibility and choice in a contact center deployment model.
Avaya (www.avaya.com) introduces the Aura Collaboration Environment (Aura CE), a middleware or application development platform that promises to ease the development Unified Communications (UC) and Contact Center (CC) applications integrated with the Avaya Aura environment. Developers will be able to use the new platform to develop custom applications more quickly and easily than with SDKs, APIs and other sources that require specialized skills and knowledge. Avaya DevConnect partners are already previewing of the Aura CE platform which is expected to be released later in 2013. Avaya has also introduced new consulting services, including Cloud Transformation Services designed to help organizations (large businesses and cloud service providers) define and implement a cloud communications strategy.
Avaya (www.avaya.com) offers the new Video Collaboration Solution for its IP Office small and mid-size business (SMB) communications platform. The new XT Video Collaboration Server works with the latest release of IP Office (8.1) and enables a virtual conference room for up to eight simultaneous participants, with click-to-join capabilities from mobile devices (Android and iOS), desktops (Mac and PC) and standards-based room systems. Two versions are available: one model for desktop and mobile clients ($5,500) and a second model for HD room systems which comes with a camera, remote control, digital microphone pod and cables ($8,500).
Avaya (www.avaya.com) introduces Outbound Contact Express, a new proactive management platform for mid-size businesses with 25-250 agents and up to 500 trunks. This is a pre-integrated, all-in-one solution (includes all hardware, software and support services needed) that uses advanced, patented predictive and preview dialing algorithms designed to improve call detection accuracy, thus reducing agent time, costs and streamlining operations. Outbound Contact Express includes Web-based administration, a full-featured dialer, agent scripting, reporting, call recording, Avaya Speech Analytics and 24x7 support. Avaya Outbound Contact Express will be globally available in the summer of 2013.
Blue Jeans Network (http://bluejeans.com) introduces the next version of its cloud-based videoconferencing software as a service (SaaS) solution. Blue Jeans 2.0 adds a redesigned user interface for easier scheduling, hosting, joining and managing meetings with one-click access and scheduling via Google Calendar and/or Microsoft Outlook to name a few. New administrative controls include group level permissions, single sign-on and APIs for customized integrations. Blue Jeans 2.0 features are available now.
Epygi (www.epygi.com) is offering a new surveillance solution that pairs network camera technology from German company MOBOTIX AG with the Epygi IP-PBX phone systems. MOBOTIX cameras can be located inside or outside of a building, and users can view the video stream of any IP camera on their IP or soft phone by simply dialing the extension of the corresponding video feed. Epygi resellers have long been deploying the products together, but this announcement solidifies the Epygi-MOBOTIX partnership. The video surveillance solution is available worldwide. In the near future, Epygi will be launching building automation software that can be integrated with the MOBOTIX video products.
Fidelus (www.fidelus.com) has new Voice and Video Bundles for SMBs that combine Cisco collaboration technology with Fidelus software and services. To be specific, the bundles feature Fidelus Software, Cisco Business Edition 6000, Cisco Collaboration Tools and Fidelus Professional and Managed Services which includes setup and configuration, technology adoption (training), post-implementation support, 24x7x365 proactive monitoring and fault resolution and access to Cisco certified engineers.
Genesys (www.genesyslab.com) announces it will acquire customer engagement solution provider SoundBite Communication and its cloud-based collections, payments and mobile marketing applications and enterprise customer service solutions. The acquisition will finalize in 3Q2013 and is expected to strengthen the Genesys portfolio, but also extend Genesys’ leadership as a cloud solution provider, adding about 450 new customers to Genesys’ existing base of 800 cloud customers. Earlier this year, Genesys also acquired UTOPY workforce optimization solutions and customer interaction analytics and cloud-based self-service contact center provider Angel.com Inc.
Grandstream Networks (www.grandstream.com) has re-entered the IP-PBX market with the UCM6100 IP-PBX, a new all-in-one communications appliance aimed at small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), multi-site offices and home users currently using a legacy PBX. See related write-up above for more details (“Grandstream Re-enters the IP-PBX Market”).
Grandstream Networks (www.grandstream.com) completes certifications with several SIP-compatible telephony solutions. The Grandstream GXP IP Phones have been certified to work with Centuric’s Virtual PBX/VoIP hosted voice solutions, CoreDial’s hosted PBX and VoIP solutions, IBBS’s cloud-based voice services for broadband and cable provider customers and Flowroute’s business VoIP services. Partner Telinta Inc. has developed auto-provisioning profiles for most models of Grandstream IP phones, allowing these to be quickly deployed without manual configuration. In other news, Grandstream updates its Android-based GXP2200 phone with new firmware that adds video calling, voice commands and call record.
Mitel (www.mitel.com) acquires contact center supplier prairieFyre software Inc., an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that has long supplied Mitel with a contact center solution. With the acquisition, Mitel can more tightly integrate and align contact center development within Mitel's own product development and roadmaps and will be able to further develop customer service and contact center solutions, including cloud-based offers that are increasingly in demand. The contact center group will be led by prairieFyre CEO Chris Courneya, now vice president and general manager, Mitel Contact Centers.
Mitel (www.mitel.com) and Vidyo (www.vidyo.com) are partnering to offer Vidyo HD video and telepresence solutions with Mitel’s line of unified communication software products (MiVoice and MiCollab), both premises-based and as cloud offers. This latest announcement highlights a reseller and distribution agreement that makes Vidyo’s technology available as part of Mitel’s MiCloud service in the U.S. (Mitel recently introduced the MiCloud branding to replace the current naming of Mitel’s hosted offers). Mitel’s global channel partners can now offer Mitel’s UCC and Vidyo’s video conferencing as an end-to-end solution for public, private and hybrid cloud deployments.
Mitel (www.mitel.com) introduces new branding that aligns its solutions into three product categories: three solution categories: MiCollab for collaboration and unified communications tools, MiContactCenter for customer service and contact center solutions, and MiVoice for voice platforms and phones. Mitel Communications Director (MCD) now called MiVoice Business, and Mitel 5000 is now MiVoice Small Business. See related write-up above for more details (“Mitel Rebrands, Enhances UC Suite and Simplifies SMB Administration”).
NEC (www.necam.com) updates its UNIVERGE SV8100 and UNIVERGE SV8300 Communications Servers for small and mid-size businesses. New software releases in 2013 improve and simplify the functionality of each system. See related write-up above for more details (“NEC Enhances SMB Platforms, Add UC Desktop Web Client).
Panasonic (www.panasonic.com/sip) adds cloud provider Telesphere as a SIP Hosted Preferred Partner; the partnership provides a complete hosted PBX solution by combining Panasonic SIP phones and reseller network with Telesphere’s service and support. Jive and OnSIP were the first companies to become Panasonic SIP Hosted Preferred Partners earlier in 2013. In other news, Panasonic introduces the KX-PRX120 smartphone-style landline handset, a low-end Android handset that acts as a primary home phone.
Polycom (www.polycom.com) introduces the CX5500 and CX5100 video conferencing units designed to interoperate with Microsoft Lync. Both devices can be plugged into a USB port on a laptop to enable enterprise-grade video and audio collaboration capabilities; the CX5500 also acts as a SIP audio conference phone. The CX5100 Unified Conference Station is scheduled for availability worldwide in September 2013; the CX5500 Unified Conference Station (with SIP Telephony) is expected in the fourth quarter of 2013. Polycom now has over 40 offerings that work with Microsoft Lync 2010 or 2013. In other news, Polycom updates its RealPresence Mobile and Desktop video software; a new version 3.0 enhances content-sharing and supports more devices.
RCA (www.rca4business.com) announces that its RCA Digital Telephone Service Package is now available at 2,600 office retail stores nationwide (Office Depot and Staples). The hosted service is powered by Broadview Networks and starts at $24.95 per user per month. Features include a digital receptionist, three-digit extension dialing, simultaneous calling to multiple phones, call transfer, music on hold and voicemail-to-email, among others, as well as support for four RCA IP telephone models.
RingCentral (www.ringcentral.com) updates it RingCentral Office hosted PBX service, adding a new suite of mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. The new MobileBeat features include one-click conference calling and invitations via text, Business SMS, phone presence status and mobile device faxing. Additionally, the RingCentral Office hosted service now supports Salesforce integration, auto call record, call park and intercom features. RingCentral also recently introduced new Edition pricing for Standard, Premium, Enterprise user seats.
Sangoma (www.sangoma.com) updates Lync Express, the company’s all-in-one Lync server appliance designed to help smaller businesses take advantage of Microsoft Lync as a complete unified communications and business phone system. Sangoma Lync Express hosts the core Microsoft Lync components, plus a Sangoma VoIP gateway for telephony support, on a single 1U rack-mounted server that is simple to install and manage. The latest release 2.0 adds new Lync Express models that scale to 1,000 Lync seats (up from 200 seats) and embeds a Session Border Controller (SBC) for deployments using SIP trunks. Lync Express is certified with the current Microsoft Lync 2013 version.
ShoreTel (www.shoretel.com) releases a new version of its ShoreTel Mobility client for mobile devices. Version 7 adds support for the new ShoreTel Dock enterprise-grade docking station (introduced last May and now orderable) that holds Apple iPhone or iPad mobile devices (an Android Dock is on the roadmap). Also, new calendar integration for Android and iOS devices (the “Today” screen) displays conference calls (scheduled in the user’s Microsoft Outlook calendar) on the user’s mobile calendar and enables one-click access. A new Personal dial feature gives users the option to display different caller IDs, depending on the call type; this allows non-business calls, for example, to be placed with the users’ personal or cellular caller ID through the ShoreTel Mobility application.
ShoreTel (www.shoretel.com) introduces its first SIP-based desk phone portfolio, the IP 400 Series, designed for the company’s premises-based IP-PBX (ShoreTel 14 and beyond). Four models are available: the 8-line 485g with color display, visual voicemail and Gigabit Ethernet support; the 8-line 480/480g with grayscale display, visual voicemail and with/without Gigabit support; and the more basic 2-line 420 for common areas. Versions of the new SIP phones are being developed for the ShoreTel Sky cloud service and are expected by early 2014. (Earlier ShoreTel IP phones support the MGCP protocol.)
Siemens Enterprise Communications (www.siemensenterprise.com) is partnering with frog design (www.frogdesign.com) to develop a new UC experience currently dubbed ‘Ansible’ and due out officially in the second half of 2014. According to Siemens, the forthcoming solution will be a ‘single pane of glass’ and new emerging category yet unnamed, but like “Engagement” that combines voice, social, collaboration, applications and infrastructure. As one example, Ansible will be able to learn and remember over time how certain people like to communicate (i.e. by phone, email, FaceBook, etc.). Siemens is currently developing prototypes (personas or profiles) for millennials, managers, executives, agents and other roles using feedback from actual users. As an aside, Ansible is a science fiction term which means a fictitious machine that supports superluminal (instantaneous) communications.
Siemens Enterprise Communications (www.siemensenterprise.com) OpenScape Mobility can now be combined with the Audioffice docking and charging unit from Invoxia. Smartphones and tablets are connected via Bluetooth to the Audioffice docking unit; users then access contacts, manage incoming and outgoing calls and participate in conference calls, as well as move calls to/from the docking station using OpenScape Mobility's Call Swipe feature. An optional corded handset is also available. Invoxia has joined Siemens Enterprise Communications' Technology Partner Program. In other news, Siemens Enterprise customers can now join NextPlane's UC Exchange, a cloud-based federation service for UC across a range of other UC platforms, including Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Google, Open-Fire, Isode, eZuce, and eJabberd.
snom (www.snom.com) is developing new firmware for its snom 7xx series and snom 821 UC edition phones qualified and compatible to work with Microsoft Lync. The new features dubbed "Enhanced Better Together" offer expanded integration capabilities with Lync 2010 and 2013 similar to Lync-optimized phones such as enhanced PC pairing via Ethernet. Users will be able to click-to-dial, click-to-transfer and use drag-and-drop conferencing via the Lync client on their snom phone over an Ethernet connection. An early version of the firmware was demonstrated at the Microsoft World Partner Congress in July; a beta version will be available later in the summer for partner and customer testing (general availability is planned for 4Q2013). In other news, Flowroute has certified snom SIP desktop phones and M9 cordless phone to work with its Wholesale VoIP Service.
Toshiba's Digital Products Division (http://us.toshiba.com/VDS), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., is entering the enterprise virtualization market, partnering with Citrix and VMware for a new Hosted Virtual Desktop Service due out in Q4 2013. The on-demand service will be hosted in Toshiba data centers and targets mid-market and enterprise businesses looking to reduce the capital expense of on-premises desktop solutions. In other news, Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Telecommunication Systems Division (www.telecom.toshiba.com) adds to its list of approved SIP trunking providers; the company has certified Voice Carrier’s IntelliSIP SIP trunking with its IPedge IP business communication system.
Vertical Communications (www.vertical.com) releases new software for Wave IP, the company’s lead telephony system for the small and mid-sized business (SMB) market and larger distributed organizations. New R4.0 software adds meet-me conferencing and several customer service applications, among other new features. See related write-up above for more details (“Vertical Updates Wave IP with More Built-in Features”).
Vidyo (www.vidyo.com) will release an update to its software-based collaboration portfolio scheduled for 3Q2013 and free to existing Vidyo users under a current maintenance agreement. The forthcoming VidyoConferencing 3.0 will support a collaborative application for iPad tablets, a remote control application for iOS and Android devices, a VidyoWeb in-browser experience and two new room systems, a small form factor (starts at $999) and a telepresence system ($25,000). The new room systems will be built on Intel technology (the NUC or ‘next unit of computing’ platform).
Windstream (www.windstream.com) is expanding its managed Unified Communications (UC) service offerings, adding Avaya and Mitel UC products to its subscription-based cloud services portfolio. With the Avaya Aura suite, UC, mobile and desktop collaboration, messaging and other applications will be available from Windstream as scalable, subscription-based services. Mitel MiVoice (formerly Mitel Communications Director or MCD) and MiCollab (formerly Mitel Application Suite or MAS) solutions will also be available as hosted services from Windstream in the fall of 2013 (currently in customer trials). Windstream has a nationwide network footprint and a growing number of enterprise-class data centers, including four new data centers planned for this year as the company is seeing profits from its UC service offerings - business service revenues in first quarter were up 2% compared to the same period last year.
Yealink Network Technology Ltd. (www.yealink.com), a China-based voice and video over IP phone designer and manufacturer, introduces the new SIP-T4 Series IP phones designed for mobile workers with support for wireless headsets via the Yealink USB Bluetooth dongle BT40 or the wireless headset adapter EHS36. Three models include the T46G color, Gigabit phone for executives, the T42G phone for business users and the T41P. In other news, Alcatel-Lucent (www.alcatel-lucent.com) has certified Yealink’s earlier T2x series SIP phones for use with its OmniPCX Office platform for SMBs.
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