Siemens Information and Communications Networks Inc. this week rolled out a new version of its collaboration portal that adds a software development tool kit and new presence automation tools.
Version 2.0 of HiPath OpenScape, which runs on Microsofts Office Live Communications Server and Windows Server 2003, also includes application interfaces so that SOAP/XML developers can imbed the OpenScape collaborative tools into business applications.
OpenScape is a click-to-communicate application that coordinates telephony, instant messaging, video, e-mail, conferencing, and document store-and-forward, and knows who is available to whom, and through which preferred medium, at any given moment—a capability known as presence. Siemens has also integrated the messaging and setup features of OpenScape with Exchange Server, and with speech recognition and text-to-speech technology.
Analysts say OpenScape, which Siemens started shipping last year, breaks ground for bringing VOIP (voice over IP) together with the rest of enterprise communications. "OpenScapes benefits are hard to quantify in hard dollars," said Jeffrey Snyder, an analyst with Gartner/Dataquest. "You need a forward-thinking CIO, because the productivity benefits are small and incremental."
Siemens was the first to offer an integrated telephony-collaboration product that works with competitors PBX systems, Synder said. "The enterprises that stand the most to gain with OpenScape early on would be those that have a highly distributed organization, with switches from a variety of vendors," he said.
OpenScape will work with any time-division multiplexing phone system through off-the-shelf, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) VOIP gateways. Features such as phone status are more tightly integrated with Siemens HiPath phones or other SIP phones.
The softwares "Personal Portal" was one of the first VOIP interfaces to use a buddy-list-type model, enhanced with displays of cell phone, home phone, video and conferencing status, according to David Leach, group manager for platforms marketing at Siemens Enterprise Networks.
OpenScape 2.o is expected to ship next month. The basic service, which provides SIP signaling and system and device management, is priced at $125 per user, according to Leach. The conferencing and collaboration server, which support 288 conference channels each, adds another $125 per user. The media server, incorporating text-to-speech, speech recognition and the spoken prompts that voice-enable calendaring, messaging, and call preferences, runs $100 per user.
"If you already have Exchange, and SQL Server, Live Office Communication Server, and Active Directory, its not bad," said Blair Pleasant, principal analyst with CommFusion. "But if you dont, it can be quite expensive." Pleasant did note that upcoming releases of the portal will reduce dependency on Microsoft, and use IBMs Domino platform as well as Live Office Communication Server for presence and communication brokering.