Siemens ICN Looks to Decouple VOIP Software

The firm will begin to decouple its VOIP software from proprietary hardware and operating systems with the launch of ComScendo.

Siemens Information and Communication Networks Inc.s Enterprise Networks division on Monday will begin to decouple its voice over IP software from proprietary hardware and operating systems when it launches its new HiPath ComScendo communications suite.

ComScendo, which runs on Siemens ICNs HiPath 3000 and 5000 IP PBXes for small to medium-sized companies, provides an enterprise-class voice communications feature set, including call forwarding, conferencing, least cost routing and call detail reporting.

The new ComScendo suite represents the beginning of a multiyear transition to decouple Siemens software from vertically integrated, proprietary hardware and operating systems. The HiPath 5000 core server runs on an Intel and Windows-based system.

Although Siemens ICN has no plans to market the software on other vendors IP PBXes, they "arent ruling it out," said Kathy Heilmann, senior group marketing manager, in San Jose, Calif.

A slightly different version of HiPath ComScendo runs on Siemens ICNs HiPath 4000 IP PBX for large enterprises.

"In another year, we will have more complete convergence with the 4000, but we wont have 100 percent same software for all three platforms because of different requirements," said Heilmann.

HiPath ComScendo supports Siemens ICNs optiPoint digital and IP telephones, its optiClient 130 soft client, and third-party IP phones and soft clients.

Also on Monday, Siemens ICN will release Version 4.0 of its optiClient 130 soft client for PCs, which works with the HiPath 3000 Survivable Media Gateway, the HiPath 5000 IP PBX for small to medium-sized enterprises, and the HiPath 4000 IP PBX for large enterprises.

The new release adds three new GUI options. The Telephone GUI looks like a Siemens phone that includes the keypad, function keys and display. The EasyCom GUI provides drag-and-drop icons that can be moved into a calling circle to initiate a call. Multiple icons can be moved into the calling circle to initiate a conference call. The Office GUI provides a series of pull-down menus and check boxes to handle calls and access features.

Version 4.0 also works with two new Siemens ICN peripheral devices, including the optiPoint Handset device, which can be plugged into a PCs Universal Serial Bus. The devices, which provide better audio quality than the PCs speaker and microphone, work with PCs running Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Millennium Edition and Windows XP. A new optiKeyboard multimedia keyboard includes stereo speakers, an embedded microphone and a telephone handset with cradle.

Siemens ICN on Monday will also introduce what officials believe to be the first PC-based trading application for financial services and brokerage firms. The new HiPath Trading application for PCs, available for the first time in North America, moves beyond dedicated trading turrets to standard PCs and LANs that can support other applications.

The trading application can run as a stand-alone trading tool or be connected to the HiPath 4000 IP PBX for voice connectivity. Version 2.1 of the software, which expands the systems capacity and enhances the user interface, is available now in the United States.

Although Siemens in less well-known in the United States for its voice-over-IP offerings, worldwide it has a much greater presence than rival Cisco Systems Inc., according to Allan Sulkin, president of TEQConsult Group, in Hackensack, N.J.

"Every PBX shipped today is IP capable. Cisco only has 4 percent of the IP PBX and Key Hybrid Systems market. The big market leaders are Siemens, Avaya and Nortel. But market penetration of IP stations is only 6 to 8 percent," he said.