Centrinity Is All Talk—Literally

By Timothy Dyck  |  Posted 2001-03-19

At the eWeek Excellence Awards winners banquet last month, I had the opportunity to hear about one of the most interesting companies Ive come across in a while.

Centrinity has, over the past decade, developed an incredibly ambitious voice, e-mail, instant messaging, fax and groupware integrated communications system (called FirstClass Unified Messaging) based on the founding staffs experience building Nortel Networks Meridian Mail voice mail system.

In addition to all the message types it handles, it supports an amazing variety of clients: its native Windows, Mac OS and Unix client software; generic Post Office Protocol or Internet Message Access Protocol mail clients; Web browsers; digital cell phones; a phone-based voice interface using text-to-speech software; Palm devices; and even Telnet clients.

So far, the software has had most of its success in the academic market, where high numbers of users need to be supported with little administrative support.

"Students are the prototypical mobile knowledge worker," said Scott Welch, Centrinitys chief evangelist and former CEO, in Markham, Ontario.

The University of Maine is a customer and supports 13,000 users on a single four-way Windows NT server with 512MB of RAM. That server had processed 700,000 log-ins and 500,000 messages over the course of 10 days when I looked at its status display.

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