Advances in processing power and switching capable of handling the different requirements of voice and data traffic are beginning to make the notion of convergence—a long-hyped notion—a reality.
In an effort to accelerate the enterprise migration to converged networking, hardware and software makers are putting together packages that promise a smooth transition.
Unimax Systems Corp. this week is unveiling management software tools meant to give enterprises an easier way to update telecommunications databases and synchronize them with IT databases. Demonstrating one of the main benefits of convergence—saving money—Unimax is offering a less expensive and less time-consuming way to keep data throughout an organization consistent and up-to-date, a particularly challenging task when systems come from different vendors.
“At the end of the day, when the customer purchases a series of devices, theyre left with a swivel-chair management problem,” said Andrew Hunkins, CEO of Unimax, in Minneapolis. “There is a lot of redundant information that gets updated. Theres a lot of opportunity for human error.”
When changes need to be made to the telecommunications database, Unimaxs technology detects the changes and transfers them to other databases. This week, at VoiceCon in Orlando, Fla., the company will roll out Team Cast, a Web-based interface that allows an organizations department heads to customize voice mail distribution lists.
Hunkins said that Pfizer Inc. is using Team Cast to coordinate communications among its thousands of sales representatives, whose product lines and territories are subject to change. He added that Unimax helped the pharmaceutical company synchronize its voice mail distribution lists with human resources and sales management databases.
Unimaxs New Tool
Unimax is also launching a tool to help resellers ensure a smooth migration by prepopulating systems, and it is adding support for Cisco Systems Inc.s Call Manager and Unity products.
To give enterprises a single network infrastructure to manage, NEC Corp.this week is introducing its Univerge product line. The products include distributed switching and centralized control capabilities to make it easier to move phones around an organization, according to Bruce Grant, director of enterprise solutions at NEC, in Irving, Texas.
The new line also includes a conferencing server, unified messaging software and other new desktop applications, added terminals, and network assessment services, but the customer doesnt have to purchase the whole package.
“In the old days, we really didnt bundle services,” Grant said. “Today, the end user can pick and choose. Were not forcing a company to take anything it doesnt want.”
Univerge is SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)-compliant and provides limited time-division multiplexing support. Down the road, NEC plans to build a dual-mode phone for standard SIP and SIP extensions, Grant said, with the goal of creating a more standards-based feel and functionality for its products.
SIP is expected to be a hot topic at this years VoiceCon, which is dedicated to enterprise migration to IP networking.
“Weve got more SIP than weve had in years past,” said Fred Knight, general manager for the show. “I think SIP may be at a point where IP telephony was in the year 2000.”
In its 14th year, VoiceCon is larger than its ever been, with the addition of several vendors, including Extreme Networks Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., and Pingtel Corp., of Woburn, Mass., Knight said.
Lucent Technologies Inc., of Murray Hill, N.J., and BroadSoft Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., will unveil a partnership that also aims to ease the enterprise migration to IP networking.
The companies have been working together, melding BroadSofts communications platform with Lucent softswitches and gateways to deliver VOIP (voice-over-IP) systems for carriers. Borrowing components from the carrier-grade systems, the companies will now begin offering a VOIP package for enterprise CIOs who want to manage their own systems.