NEC's wide-ranging UC launch emphasizes a move to hardware and open standards.
NEC Unified Solutions jumped on the unified communications bandwagon on
March 12 with the introduction of a wide-ranging product update focused on the
roles users have within their businesses.
The new products, which NEC introduced in advance of VoiceCon March 17 to 20
in Orlando, Fla.,
are built around NEC's Univerge360 strategy, which integrates users'
organization roles with automated business processes. Univerge360 was launched
"We look at how their communications needs dictate the type of
technology they use," said Paul Lopez, general manager for marketing
at NEC Unified Solutions. "With Univerge360 we integrated communications
throughout your business and leveraged an open-standards approach to let you
maximize your options."
The new products represent a bit of a departure for NEC and a shoring up of
its competitive stance in the market against big players such as Cisco Systems
and Avaya, said Brian Riggs, research director at Current Analysis.
"NEC is completely rethinking its product line and what it needs to
deliver to enterprise customers today. This is really making a very clear move
toward offering a set of communications products that are very software
applications-oriented and very server-based. NEC is now trying to deliver a set
of software much more in line with what competitors offer," Riggs said.
NEC, which is moving its code base to Linux, introduced a new version of its
Univerge SV7000 IP PBX and previewed a higher-end IP PBX, dubbed the SV8500,
due in summer 2008. At the same time, NEC introduced a UC enterprise
applications suite that includes new desktop and mobile UC clients, an update
to its voice messaging system, new modular IP and digital phones, and a new
media gateway that provides integration with Microsoft's Office Communications
Server, Lotus Sametime and other third-party applications.
NEC's Univerge SV7000 IP PBX Release 24 adds a new softphone with advanced
communications functions, support for SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)
devices, support for LDAP databases, integration with 802.11 a/b/g wireless
LANs and new POE (power over Ethernet) support. It is based on Java and XML.
The Univerge SV8500 uses a Linux-based architecture that incorporates a new
CPU and interfaces. "We've redone the entire design of the system," Lopez
said. "We're moving toward more and more Linux to lower total cost of ownership."
The updated SV7000 also supports NEC's new UC for Enterprise advanced
applications suite, which includes the Univerge UC700 Desktop Client, which provides
such functions as click-to-dial and clipboard dialer, presence-based call
routing, communication history information, voice, video- and Web conferencing,
whiteboarding, screen sharing, screen capture, and screen pops for incoming
messages. It provides a look and feel similar to Microsoft's Windows Vista,
Also in the UC for Enterprise
suite is the Univerge MC530 Mobile Client, which can run on Windows Mobile 5,
RIM and Symbian operating systems. It integrates UC functions with mobility,
allowing messages from the business IP communication system to be automatically
sent to mobile devices. It provides a unified user experience across Wi-Fi and
cellular networks and allows a single phone number to work across desk phones
and mobile devices.
The Univerge UM8500 Unified Messaging System works with the new clients and
integrates with Microsoft's Exchange Server to allow the system to read aloud a
schedule of tasks for any given day. It is unique in its combined support of
VideoMail, Find Me/Follow Me and ViewCall desktop call control.
On the hardware side, NEC added new Univerge DT700 and DT300 IP and digital
phones that support SIP, have open XML interfaces and intuitive GUIs, and can be customized.
The new Univerge OW5000 media gateway integrates NEC offerings with
Microsoft's OCS 2007, IBM Lotus Sametime and
applications offered by NEC partners. A Web-based management program provides a
portal to allow users to configure their communications options, as well as
providing call accounting, asset management, and billing and invoice management
NEC's challenge now with its UC offerings will be to get its large,
dedicated base of resellers to move beyond selling point products such as IP
PBXes and digital wireless products to sell more advanced application sets,
"NEC has the potential for being a sleeping giant in this market. They
have a very dedicated set of resellers and now applications that improve
product cycle after product cycle," he said.
The Univerge SV7000 R24 is available now, while the rest of the enhanced
portfolio is due at the end of April.