Siemens Adds SOA to Telephony

The telecom giant adds SOA to some HiPath PBX software, and Web services to everything.

Siemens Communications Enterprise, the communications subsidiary of Siemens AG, has begun enabling SOA in some of its major telephony applications.

More applications will be enabled in 2006.

In addition, the company will add Web services interfaces to any applications that wont have service-oriented architecture capabilities, or to applications to which SOA cannot be added.

The company has already delivered some SOA-enabled applications, including its HiPath 8000 Assistant, a management tool for the companys HiPath 8000 IP PBX; and the HiPath Media Server, which provides conferencing, voice recording, presence, administration and dial tone to the companys PBX products.

Siemens has also created a software development kit to allow customers to take advantage of SOA and Web services on Siemens products.

According to Scott Washburn, Global Portfolio Manager for Siemens Communications Enterprise, the company started working on SOA for its applications about two years ago because it needed the capability for its own development.

Washburn said that customers were already telling the company that they needed that capability as well.

"One of the things weve found, as have our large customers, is the need for remaining flexible within the corporate structure," Washburn said.

He said that in the past, companies essentially hard-coded their applications, including their voice applications, and that made it difficult if not impossible to adapt to changing needs.

"Those that are the most nimble will win the race," Washburn said. "Business agility is important."

Washburn said that IBM is already at work with Siemens on some 30 projects that use Siemens applications and an SOA framework.

Siemens is also partnering with other companies, including Microsoft and SAP, on similar efforts.

He said that this change will be vital to customers, whether theyre from Siemens, IBM or other companies.

"This makes it easier to develop code that can interface with Siemens components in the enterprise," Washburn said.

"Companies can use this to significantly improve operations of call centers or give more powerful tools to operators," he said.

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"This recognizes the shift in business dynamics," said Alan Zeichick, principal analyst at Camden Associates in San Bruno, Calif.

He said that the Siemens SOA products would effectively give smaller companies the same telephony tools as Fortune 100 companies.

"Siemens has made the communications platform part of SOA," Zeichick said.

"Previous integrations are all one to one on a massive scale—youd tie applications directly together."

He said that with this approach, you wouldnt have to find specific integrations; they just have to participate in the SOA.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about Siemens SOA efforts.

According to Brian Riggs, principal analyst at Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis, the move to an SOA means that companies will be able to take advantage of fundamental changes in communications infrastructure.

"With so much of communications being based on software running on servers, the next step that enterprises and their vendors need to take is to embed communications processes into business applications, that is applications that are not specifically made for communications," he said.

Riggs said that a typical way to embed communications into a business application using SOA might be to add a "click to call" feature.

Names or phone numbers in the application could become hyperlinks, and a click on such a link would look up the contact information, check to see if a means of calling was available, and then make the call.

"Youll be able to embed this directly into business applications without requiring a separate set of communications applications," Riggs said.

In addition to its SOA-enabled applications, Siemens is also announcing BizIP, a system of peer-to-peer SIP-based (session initialization protocol) telephones designed for small offices.

BizIP will allow for workgroups up to 16 users, and will feature a specialized IP telephony gateway.

Some versions of BizIP will support up to 30 users.

Both sets of products will be formally announced at the forthcoming Interop show in Las Vegas from April 30 to May 5.

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Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...