Siemens Communications Inc. responded to the desire of many customers to maintain conventional TDM PBXes alongside VOIP switches when the communications equipment vendor rolled out the HiPath 4000 series in 2002.
The HiPath 4000 was followed by the HiPath 4300 and 4500 and the HiPath 5000, a pure-IP switch. However, the 5000 failed to connect with many users because it required a full cutover to IP, said Steve Blood, an analyst at Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn.
But Blood has praise for the 4000 line. "The 4000 is a great hybrid, and its very scalable depending on the number of your endpoints."
Key to the hybrid strategy is Siemens CorNet and CorNet IP proprietary software, which supports both TDM (time-division multiplexing) and IP switches. With CorNet implemented, enterprises can support their circuit-switched telephony infrastructures as they move to greater IP deployment. Gradually, users can implement applications that take advantage of CorNets IP capabilities and what some are calling "second-generation VOIP."
"Once companies have a natural evolution of their infrastructure in place, theyre in a position to support VOIP," said Blood. "In new offices, theres no reason to go to TDM at all," he added.
One benefit of this more sophisticated VOIP (voice over IP) is so-called presence, in which a users presence, including the users phone number, can be recognized wherever the user might be on the network.
Siemens Information and Communication Networks Director of Marketing Mark Straton emphasizes the role of telephony across WLANs (wireless LANs) in the mix. "Second-generation VOIP is wireless-focused and communications portal-based," Straton said.
The communications portal Siemens is offering is OpenScape, which supports presence. "It tells the system where you are," said Straton.
Blood noted that Siemens worked with Microsoft to develop OpenScape and its presence capabilities, which he said will be most attractive to mobile users, particularly in combination with instant messaging, conferencing and collaboration. "If someone is sitting at a desk, somewhere in the world, the system knows where you are."
Straton said that Nissan North America Inc., based in Gardena, Calif., this year will evaluate OpenScape for one-number service, conferencing and collaboration.
As a future platform, Siemens is promoting its HiPath 8000, a carrier-class switch that might be suitable for some large enterprises.
"The 8000 is a managed-service-provider product. I think there is a value in that product for large distributed companies, although it will take some time for somebody to transition to it," said Elizabeth Herrell, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass.
Nissan will evaluate the 8000 for use in its Denver data center to manage as many as 100,000 users globally, said Maura Cotter, Siemens global account manager for Nissan, in Los Angeles.