The enterprise networks business of Siemens, which will be spun off from the parent in the next several months, introduced a version of the SOA-based HiPath 8000 IP telephony system aimed at medium-size enterprises with 300 users or more.
With the work it has undertaken over the past three or four years to move from a hardware-based architecture to a software-based communications model, Siemens believes it has a first mover advantage over rivals, according to Al Baker, vice president for Siemens Enterprise Networks in San Jose, Calif.
"What they [Microsoft and Nortel] announced we already have. Were two to three years ahead of Nortel and Avaya. Now theyre on board," he said.
Release 2.2 of the HiPath software, including its media server and HiPath Assistant, includes some 50 new features requested by customers, according to Baker.
The Linux-based system includes such new features as support for more than 1,000 different calling plans, aimed especially at managed services providers offering hosted IP telephony services.
The new release, which has been tested to work with IBM servers, Sun Microsystems Solaris servers and HP servers running Linux, also beefs up security functions and can interoperate with legacy PBXes.
SOA toolkits also allow developers to link communications and collaboration tools with business applications.
Beyond the new release, Siemens intends to quickly add more SOA components and interfaces over the next year, due to the agile development techniques it is using thanks to SOA.
Despite the momentum officials say is building behind the HiPath 8000, some observers say they believe Siemens has an uphill battle to move into new markets.
"The enterprise business is up for sale, and it has no takers yet. You have no idea where this is going to end up," said Zeus Kerravala, industry analyst with The Yankee Group in Boston.
As for the movement to software-based IP telephony systems, few enterprises are ready for such a move, Kerravala said.
"Were a couple of years away for the market to be purely software-based. Vertical integration is easier to secure and add features to," he said.