Part of an SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)-based telephony network to connect 12,000 Toshiba Corp. employees, the announcement represents the second vote of confidence this month in enterprise IP telephony on a multinational, Fortune-500 scale.
The first vote came in July 13, when Cisco Systems Inc. announced that The Boeing Co. would deploy its Call Manager IP phone system for more than 150,000 IP hard and softphones.
Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Avaya Corp.s sale to Toshiba has few details yet, but will involve three main infrastructure components: a core switching engine in Avayas Communications Manager; support for PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) gatewaying, voice mail, auto attendant, and interactive voice response and digit capture in the Avaya Media Server; and SIP registration and proxy services–for both voice and business IM communications—in the Avaya Converged Communication Server (CCS).
Avayas CCS SIP server, launched earlier this year, supports the presence-enabled, click-to-dial buddy list interfaces now adopted by many PBX vendors. Product marketing manager Jim Su noted that the server also will work with legacy digital Avaya phone sets.
This is important for gradual or partial deployments, in which some departments or branch offices keep their pre-existing digital Definity PBXs, or some extensions remain digital, connecting to the new PBX with traditional digital line cards.
Such users still can be included on buddy lists, show accurate availability information and be securely IMed or dialed with a click. They also can use such software to dial out from their own phones.
Su also confirmed that the Communications Manager IP PBX will interoperate in all SIP functions with IP phones from Xten, Pingtel and other phones that conform to the SIP standards RFC 3261–an RFC with specs for authentication.
The Toshiba deal drew the attention of IP telephony followers because the Japanese vendor manufactures its own IP telephony system, the Strata CTX. But Toshibas core market has been strongest in the SMB (small to midsize business) segment. The CTX tops out at 670 ports–far short of Toshibas corporate need.
Ron Gruia, enterprise telephony analyst at Frost & Sullivan, agreed that the size of the deployment was the determining factor in Toshibas choice of vendor. He noted that Panasonic, which shares Toshibas sweet spot in SMB telephony, also runs its corporate phone traffic over an Avaya PBX in its New Jersey facility.
Representatives at both Avaya and Toshiba would neither confirm nor deny plans to put SIP-compliant Toshiba phone sets or small-business systems on Toshibas deployed Avaya IP network, to be completed in early 2005. But they said further releases on this deployment are to follow.
It would not be the first time Toshiba phones and key systems answered to a non-Toshiba IP switch. Gobeam, since acquired by Covad, started its IP Centrex offering years ago by putting integrated access devices in front of Toshiba phone sets and controlling calls over a Sylantro softswitch.