Zultys Comes Late But Strong to the IP PBX Party

I've been meaning to bring Zultys Technologies, another IP PBX vendor, to readers' attention.

Ive been meaning to bring Zultys Technologies, another IP PBX vendor, to readers attention. Iain Milnes, the president of the Sunnyvale startup, gave me the final push in an interview late last week.

Zultys has been around since 2001. Its flagship Enterprise Media Exchange MX 250, launched July 2003, is an all-in-one IP PBX and data router for the small to midsize business. Its rack-mountable, 3.5-inch-high chassis supports from five to 250 users with voice, data and video, should one add cameras. Its won a lot of industry attention in recent years, as well as a worldwide distributor network.

Purpose-built with IBMs PowerPC 440GP system on-chip processor and running on MontaVista Linux, it also runs Windows GUIs and speaks Microsofts telephony API, so telephony functions can be embedded and activated through the LAN via a click in Windows applications. Like competitor Snom, its extremely faithful to standards: SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) for IP telephony interoperability, 802.11af for Power over Ethernet and DHCP for internal IP addressing, among others.

It comes out of the box with 400 hours of voice mail and basic automatic call distributor functionality for informal call centers. A recent software release adds optional full-scale call center to the mix. Especially nice, ramp-up from five to 250 users is a mere matter of software license purchase; no waiting for hardware upgrades.

Multisite enterprises can link up to 32 locations, Milnes said, comprising (do the math) 8,000 endpoints. And although Zultys tells me that resilience is built into the box, you can also cluster them for automatic fail-over or to scale up to 1,000 users at one location. A survival remote version, the MX25, can serve as a stand-alone system or merely as a gateway in a branch office for fewer than 25 satellite employees.

Zultys MX 250 works with SIP-speaking Cisco, 3Com and other SIP phones and the Windows Messenger VOIP (voice-over-IP) client but has some edges to offer in its own extensions: Zultys phones operate as routers in themselves and have four Ethernet ports. This means that enterprises could give them to their more technophobic employees to take home—even those who have no routers. As long as they have a broadband connection, they can hook these puppies up to their cable or DSL modem, plug their PCs into the phone, and thus add a business phone extension to their Internet access.

Every Zultys phone (also Linux) can also switch personalities and dial out through the Public Switched Telephone Network should the ISP drop dead. And they come with a generous two or four call appearances, meaning their users can conduct two or four simultaneous calls, pressing phone buttons. Zultys "4x5" phone has a built-in IPSec VPN client, so it automatically creates a secure tunnel into the home office. And it conferences up to five callers, Zultys claims, all by itself.

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