DiVitas Networks on Feb. 20 announced an enterprise-level mobile convergence appliance that it says allows companies to provide seamless communications and handoffs from Wi-Fi to cellular networks.
The product, which supports dual-mode phones, Wi-Fi phones, cell phones and soft phones, provides the full functionality of an office desk phone on most wireless phones, company officials said.
The DiVitas Mobile Convergence Appliance works with nearly any PBX and most mobile handsets, company officials said. In addition to the appliance, DiVitas is offering a Mobile Convergence Client that runs on the handset. According to the company, customers can expect to recoup their investment in the product in six months or less.
In addition to its convergence functions, the DiVitas product also provides access to enterprise applications for mobile devices and provides complete control over the wireless voice infrastructure at a company, officials said.
“At the very high level what the product does is extend enterprise applications to mobile networks, cellular, enterprise Wi-Fi and public Wi-Fi, and to roam seamlessly among these carriers without any dependency on any carrier or carrier-based technology,” said DiVitas CEO Vivek Khuller. “Until now the only mobile network was the cellular network,” Khuller said. “Now we see the increasing availability of Wi-Fi.”
“DiVitas uses Wi-Fi and cellular,” Khuller said. “If you want the device to work on both, you need a dual-mode phone,” he explained. He also said that the DiVitas product will extend the office phone system to Wi-Fi and cellular phones that are not dual-mode as long as they can run the DiVitas client. Currently, the DiVitas client can run on Palm-, Windows Mobile-, Symbian- and Java-based devices, according to Khuller.
The Convergence Appliance includes an open-source PBX based on Asterisk and open-source SIP server based on Jabber. Khuller said that companies that already have a suitable IP PBX dont need to use the integrated devices. “Our Mobile Convergence Appliance works with and without a PBX. It can work with any access point,” Khuller said. “It supports AP-to-AP roaming and subnet-to-subnet roaming. We focused on third-party applications, such as instant messaging and presence.”
Khuller said that DiVitas included a number of security features in its clients. He said that the clients perform packet inspection and that they encrypt data sent through the network.
“I have been following their progress for quite some time, and I think they are a contender here,” said Craig Mathias, an analyst with Farpoint Group. “Overall, it looks very inexpensive,” he said. “Its easy to use.” Mathias said that it would be very easy for an enterprise to add the DiVitas product to its existing wireless and voice infrastructure.
Mathias said that DiVitas is offering everything an enterprise needs to implement convergence. “They have mobile-to-mobile convergence, the handoff between two radios, Wi-Fi-to-cell and vice versa. They have that capability,” he said.
“Cellular will become reasonably ubiquitous,” Mathias predicted. “When you add in Wi-Fi, youll have coverage everywhere you go. Youll find that wireless becomes the preferred mode for most people,” he said.
Mathias said enterprise convergence is sure to become a hot area. “The whole concept of convergence I really identified as the key trend for the year,” he said. “This will be quite a battleground over the next couple of years.”
He added: “A desktop telephone is an endangered species.”
“The need to cross a variety of different network boundaries that the enterprise can control on its own and not rely on the carriers is fairly attractive,” said Abner Germanow, an analyst at IDC. “They are one of the few pure plays that are focused on this problem of how you go from one network to the other,” he said. Germanow said that while other companies have products that contain parts of what DiVitas is offering, no other vendor has the whole package.
“The other big thing is that DiVitas has been talking to a lot of people about their solution and the problem set, but now that the product is generally available and has pricing and can be deployed in different places and configurations, thats a testament to the company for actually getting a shipping product, so thats a good sign,” Germanow added.
“I think theyre going to find some nice traction in a variety of different places,” Germanow predicted. “The demand to be able to integrate mobile networks with land-line and PBX functionality is growing rapidly, and so is the ability to deploy in a headquarters or branch,” he said. “The price is low enough that it doesnt have to be an IT sale. A department can buy this on their own and develop a proof of concept,” he said.
The product, including a 10-user license, sells for $5495. Its available now.