Voice over IP is still stumbling over business continuity, reliability and ease of use, so thats where telecommunications equipment vendors plan to shine during the week of March 6 at VoiceCon, in Orlando, Fla.
Avaya is upgrading its MultiVantage Communications Applications line to help companies improve failover potential.
Version 3.1 of Avayas Communication Manager will come with survivability functions for large business sites with as many as 2,400 seats. The upgrade will keep IP calls operating with their full set of functions, such as conferencing and transferring, during network failures.
This version also comes with a "hot desking" capability that allows employees to shift their office phone functions to another phone on the company network, even if that other phone resides on a different system.
A new version of Avayas Call Center software expands its reporting capability so that businesses can quickly recover from network disruptions and retain complete networking records without duplicating them, said Lawrence Byrd, director of IP telephony and mobility at Avaya, in Basking Ridge, N.J.
Charter Steel, a manufacturing company in Saukville, Wis., tested Communication Manager 3.1 earlier this year. The company has 10 sites in the Midwest and sees the main bonus of the upgrades as better failover support, said Peter Schwei, telecommunications supervisor.
"In the event of a failure, you dont just have one option, you have several options," Schwei said. "Lets have this whole thing become self-healing, and if theres a problem, let me know about it."
Version 3.0 of Avayas Modular Messaging software will include additional SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) support, making it easier to manage messages via the Web. Avaya is also releasing an upgraded version of its Converged Communications Server to support more third-party SIP-enabled phones, including Cisco Systems IP phones.
"We have customers who have gathered some number of Cisco phones, and as they want to use Avaya applications, they want to know if they can use [the phones] they have," Byrd said. "SIP and open standards mean that customers have a choice."
Meanwhile, Avaya competitor Cisco is bundling a number of its technologies into a new suite of voice, data and video products and applications to allow companies to better integrate their voice systems with their IT infrastructure. The package, called the Unified Communications system, includes three new elements to be unveiled at VoiceCon.
Ciscos new Unified Personal Communicator makes it easier to move through several applications and share data by integrating systems on the desktop, phone and network. It allows workers to search directories for contacts and "click to call" using voice and video, making it more intuitive to move from a simple voice call to data collaboration, said Hank Lambert, director of business development for IP Communications at Cisco, in San Jose, Calif.
To help employees figure out the most effective way to communicate with their colleagues, a new Unified Presence Server gathers data about whether colleagues are on their desk phone, mobile phone or computer. Later versions of the Unified Presence Server will add instant messaging and video capabilities, Lambert said.
To improve interactions between call center agents and customers, the new system also includes a Customer Interaction Analyzer, which monitors information from calls to determine whether either party is distressed. "This is the first time theres a completely automated way to track customer satisfaction," Lambert said.
For businesses that need some help managing their systems as they make the migration to IP networking, NEC Unified Solutions is rolling out two services designed to ensure application reliability and security without requiring increased capital investment.
The new Remote Management Service monitors all network parts, including servers, devices and applications, speeding identification and repair.
To reduce the potential revenue loss from network downtime, NEC is also unveiling Threat Management Services, which include round-the-clock monitoring of security devices, routers and Internet data traffic to detect threats in real time. These managed services aim to reduce the cost of in-house monitoring.
For companies that consider the migration to an IP PBX too costly and/or that worry that once-proprietary systems may not be as flexible as they would like, a start-up called BlueNote Networks is offering a way to use IT infrastructure for voice and video communications. BlueNotes SessionSuite IP Telephony software allows companies to deploy a "Skype-like" voice service integrated with existing data applications.
The product is targeted at companies that want to set up an Internet-based phone service for employees at remote locations, for telecommuters and for any enterprise with a large number of nomadic workers, said BlueNote Vice President of Marketing Sally Bament, in Tewksbury, Mass.
The standards-based tool lets companies integrate voice services with applications from other vendors. Later this year, BlueNote will roll out software development tool kits for third-party developers, Bament said.