Artisoft and Toshiba
So, it was probably a smart move back in January 2000 when Artisoft and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc.s Digital Solutions Division, based in Irvine, Calif., signed a comarketing and development agreement. Under this pact, Toshiba licensed Artisofts TeleVantage, modified it, made it work with its whole line of digital phone sets and branded it as the Toshiba Strata CS, selling through a large reseller channel. Toshiba held the No. 1 spot among PBX vendor shipments in the 40- to 100-station category in early 2002.Toshibas communication server offers connectivity with IP on the line side (to desktop phones, accommodating as many as 264 per server) or the trunk side (in the outside world, accommodating as many as 96).Like many PBX makers on the SMB (small and midsize business) side, it also throws in a lot of functions that come as expensive adjuncts on larger phone switches. So, you get auto attendant, voice mail and automatic call distribution to call-center agents. You get either a Web GUI or a LAN client that transfers and conferences calls, records greetings, and sends and forwards voice mail. Click here to read about Siemens launch of its next-generation IP PBX. Like TeleVantage, the Strata CS runs on a dedicated Windows 2000 server. Most of its features date back to its pre-IP days, and include IVR (interactive voice response) programmability and remote administration. The CS can perform intricate call-handling functions, with an extremely easy user GUI for setting up caller-specific greetings or call treatments. (As in, straight to voicemail for ex-spouses calls, forward to my top-secret cell phone number for my best customer. Or even, forward to this public telephone and put the call through only if I, on the receiving end, enter a password.) The company announced the release of Strata CS Version 6.0 this week. The new version adds the ability for any remote phone, even a cell phone, to act as a full-featured station on the Strata CS system. Other enhancements buttress the call-center capability, allowing the CS to simultaneously ring both internal extensions and off-site on IP connections. This would, for example, allow an incoming 800-number call to be routed to agents on site and those working from home over broadband connections. Users also can pick and play recorded messages into a live call, useful for answering commonly asked questions in unfailingly chipper tones of voice. Supervisorsand, with permission, userscan listen in on calls or coach each other during calls (Cyrano DeBergerac style, out of the other partys hearing). And calls can be recorded and automatically archived to specific folders, with a new browser GUI controlling their playback. Viewpoint, the Strata CS client interface software, is sold separately and runs on any Windows machine on Windows 98 or newer. Release 6.0 upgrade licenses are available for users of Strata CS 5.x and 4.x systems. Check out eWEEK.coms VOIP & Telephony Center at http://voip.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.