Enhanced Services For IP-Telephony
by Edwin Mier
Posted 2/2004; Published 9/2003




In this, the latest BCR product evaluation, our goal was to see what’s coming down the pike that could motivate and propel enterprise deployment of IP-telephony even faster. What new services, features and capabilities are offered that exploit the unique aspects of IP-telephony—like data-voice convergence and distance insensitivity? Are new “killer applications” waiting in the wings?


Our research turned up a burgeoning number of review candidates, so we adopted a few guidelines for this test:


  1. The application packages had to run over an IP-telephony environment.

  2. The “services” they addressed had to be new and “enhanced,” going beyond traditional features available on TDM-PBXs.

  3. The most intriguing and prevalent new applications, it seemed, were in the categories of messaging, conferencing and collaboration. So we decided to focus on application packages addressing at least one of these areas.


Invitations went out to dozens of vendors offering such packages, and the available review time-slots quickly filled. The seven packages evaluated, from six vendors, are:



3Com’s messaging-oriented VCX 7300 Suite, which runs over and requires the vendor’s high-end, SIP-based VCX 7200 IP-telephony system.


Interactive Intelligence brought two different packages: The Enterprise Interaction Center, or EIC—a full-featured IP-telephony system that bundles in the enhanced-services apps—and Communité, an advanced messaging system that “back-ends” an existing PBX, IP-PBX or telco switch.


Mitel’s new Your Assistant application suite, which the vendor is expanding considerably over the next six months.


Nortel’s impressive new Multimedia Communications Server, or MCS 5100.


Siemens’ bold new OpenScape, the only package reviewed that was developed to run on Microsoft’s RTC (Real-Time Communications) Server, a centerpiece of the new Win2003 Server.


VocalData’s VOISS (Voice-Over-IP-SoftSwitch) package, which provides the basis for an increasing number of service providers’ IP-Centrex offerings. Only IP-phones go on the user’s site, everything else runs at the service provider’s point of presence (POP.)


Because of the broad diversity of these products—no two are the same—it was decided that a Best-in-Test scorecard would not be appropriate. Architecturally, the delivery of enhanced and advanced features is addressed in very different ways.


Today’s “advanced-services” packages and platforms vary considerably in market focus, platform base (server hardware and operating system) and feature function support. Among the widely supported features are unified messaging for voice mail, email and fax, scheduled audio conferencing and rules-based voice-call routing, like Find-Me/Follow-Me. The applications and features that are being readied for market include on-demand conferencing, multiparty videoconferencing and collaboration capabilities like whiteboarding, IM/Chat and document sharing.


The success of these packages may put to bed the issue whether VOIP has a “killer app.” It may turn out to be not a single application, but the right mix of applications that deliver clear productivity gains and return on investment, which propels us into an IP-telephony future.


About the author:

Edwin E. Mier is founder of Miercom, a network consultancy and product test center based in Princeton Junction, NJ



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