September 11, 2007
ITEXPO West 2007: Exhibitor Highlights 1
By Richard Grigonis, Executive Editor, IP Communications Group
TMC’s ITEXPO West in Los Angeles revved up for business on Monday, Sept. 10. At 4:00 p.m. the first wave of the curious swelled through the exhibit hall. Yours truly immediately set forth on his own private booth safari, and here are some initial interviews and observations (more to come):
Clarus Systems (www.clarussystems.com) certifies IP
telephony environments, particularly when things are up and running for the first time.
Sales engineer Terra Conlon said, “We make sure that all of your IP phones work, for example, and we continue to do that after the initial installation, because as you know the IP environment can change. Many things can impact that environment. So what we offer is a product that can basically make a customer feel comfortable that they do have a good handle on their environment. We actually ‘take over’ the phones. We’ll have one phone dial another one, and make sure that the calling plans that are designed for that phone are working. We can test that every day, every night, or whatever. We don’t have a classic agent on the device, we can use CTI interfaces to the phone, and we access CallManager database thru the AXL interface. We can take the phones off hook and recreate what the enduser experiences.”
Conlon continued: “We can verify class restrictions, voicemail, softkey operation, direct inward dialing, and so forth. Things that you would actually have to use a phone to test, we can test. We can automate the process and it takes just 5 to 15 seconds.”
“What we’re announcing at the show is ‘Voice Monitor’ which allows you to create rules and alerts on your already-deployed CallManager environment,” Conlon said. “Let’s say you get some calls late at night. And let’s say that their MOS score or what Cisco calls the MLQK average, drops below a certain level. We can send you a text alert message, send an email or generate an SNMP trap sent you your network management system. The alert could also be about too many dropped calls or calls rejected by the gateway, or the gateway goes down, so it’s not responding. All of this information is in the CallManager database. We’re brintging that out and allowing you to create rules, filters and alerts. It’s a bit like an intelligent ACD.”
At ITEXPO West, Iwatsu (www.iwatsu.com) is sending up a trial balloon for a new video-based telephony system.
As Iwatsu’s C. Don Gant, vice president of channel marketing and business development said, “We have a product in Japan called Precot, and it’s gotten a lot of press internationally. On the Precot system we can have a video camera or a video phone—we call it the Visual KT. The Visual KT provides several things. First of all, it provides desktop-to-desktop video conferencing. It can do a picture-in-a-picture. Second, now you also have the ability to do videoconferencing using a remote-controlled, LAN-based camera. I can control the camera from the desktop. It can also have preset positions. This can be used for security and monitoring purposes. Third, this Visual KT phone also supports VGA and PC connections, so you can plug in a larger monitor and a full-sized keyboard. In certain applications, you can replace the PC with this configuration. With the Visual KT you can get on the web, and you can do videoconferencing. So in certain applications where a PC isn’t needed you can use this device as your PC, especially if you want to have web access, and you can write other applications for the platform.”
Gant elaborated: “For example, in Japan, they have a desktop office supply ordering system based on this device. So they can order office supplies from Office Depot right off of the Internet using our phone instead of a PC. We see this as the next generation of advertising. For example, you’re sitting in your office and you may have the deli down the street buying time on a major company’s bandwidth to scroll their lunch menu across the bottom of the screen. That’s the good news. The bad news is the price of this video technology, which is still a bit high. That’s the reason we haven’t brought the Visual KT to the U.S. yet. But we’re looking at coming up with applications and partners willing to take on this project and drive the price down. Because right now, at $800 to $1,000 a station, it still a little pricey.”
“The camera is OEMed,” says Gant, “but the software that drives it and all of the software associated with it, is Iwatsu’s. As in the case of the auto industry, this is our ‘concept car’. We brought it here to ITEXPO West to see if there’s enough traction for it to make the business case of it and thus make it a real product here in the U.S. We have the technology, we just need a certain price point or application that makes its introduction feasible here in the U.S.”
“This product right now is operating off of the Precot phone system,” said Gant. “When we bring it and localize it for the U.S. we’ll take the video technology and adapt it to our existing ECS platform. We have no intention of selling the Precot system here per se.”
“The second part of our story is more of a concept. Fortune 100 companies have for longest time adopted VoIPL,” said Gant. “They started dabbling with it years ago. The technology has always been there and now it’s beginning to filter down to SMBs, which is a market segment on which we focus – companies from 50 to 250 employees. The challenge is that whereas the technology is available, but it’s just not filtering down to that level. The reasons include price, need, usability, and so forth. So we’ve built something called Enterprise Suite. Now, we’ve offered our Enterprise Communications Server for some time, but the Enterprise Suite is a tool that can be provided to dealers. That tool is nothing more than a set of products that have been designed to work together at a very low price point.”
“As an example, the foundation of Enterprise Suite is Enterprise Communications Server,” said Gant. “That is our IP PBX
, if you will, based on QuadFusion technology, that provides four disparate protocols simultaneously: Our proprietary VoIP, SIP, H.323 and TDM to make it backwardly compatible with our older systems. Secondly, it’s also an enabling technology in that makes the functional phone system ‘come alive’. What makes a phone system valuable to users is the enabling technology that works with it. That enabling technology in some cases could be Unified Communications. We have now a UC platform that operates via SIP trunks directly to our PBX. It reduces the cost because now you don’t have analog cards in your PBX and you don’t need Dialogic or similar cards in your PC or server. Now you just use the SIP trunks and cut the cost of enterprise communications drastically. UC is interesting in that it serves as a jumping off point for so many interesting things.”
At ITEXPO, Paraxip (www.paraxip.com) announced NetBorder, a session and media controller software suite offering “intelligent connectivity.” As Paraxip’s president and CEO Serge Forest (News
) said, “In the market today, in a telephony application, people rely on hardware boxes, be they VoIP gateways, session border controllers, and all those devices that come from the network side and infrastructure side. We approach this instead from the applications side. We’re work in a pure software environment and NetBorder provides the functions of a gateway, session controller, and a media server. So it solves the connectivity problem at the edge of the enterprise or contact center.”
“The key thing is that ‘boxes’ are set to handle specific functions and problems,” said Forest. “But customer requirements change over time, even within a deployment you may start with integrating your legacy PBX. But a year down the road, you may simply resort to direct SIP trunking. In the traditional world, you would throw away your gateway and buy a session border controller. Here we have a single suite that solves the problem of the ISV (Independent Software Vendor) that’s trying to install their application.”
NetBorder is comprised of four major software subsystems: Session Controller Media Proxy Media Services Network Connectivity Each software subsystem has its own scripting and OAM components, for increased flexibility and manageability. In NetBorder, these software subsystems combine to provide the necessary network connectivity, signalling proxy, signalling harmonization, media processing, media conversion and call control scripting to remove the complexity from SIP applications.
Samsung (www.samsung.com) was busy showing off its OfficeServ business phone systems, particularly the OfficeServ 7100 designed for smaller businesses.
Debjyoti Goswami at Samsung’s competitive intelligence and marketing research business communication systems division said, “This past May 2007 was our final launch of the OfficeServ 7000 Series platform, which is the OfficeServ 7100 for smaller businesses. We went around the country and did local shows to show off this new system. The 7000 line started with the OfficeServ 7200 which was launched in November 2005 for SMBs of 25 to 100 users. The 7200 is a really advanced product. We took all of our traditional TDM
and IP Voice-type offerings and migrated them into the 7200 platform. So we took all of the same voice features: analog, digital, IP technology, and migrated them into the product. But then, on top of that, we added data functionality to the product: we added routing, switching, a firewall, intrusion detection systems and VPN capability. It’s a modular system, so you merely have to plug additional cards into the device to gain this functionality.”
“It was really designed so that our dealers and network would have a real strategic advantage in terms of offering a product that would be all across the communications platform,” said Goswami. “Not just voice, but data too, and wireless technology such as WiFi
enterprise voice and data. Eventually, our architecture will handle video too.
“We also priced our systems aggressively, targeting the SMB market,” said Goswami. “I often joke that a solution isn’t a solution if nobody can afford it. So when Samsung built the 7200, they really built it with the SMB in mind.”
“In June of 2006 we launched our 7400 platform,” said Goswami. “That targeted the 100 to 400 user market. Finally, this past May 2007 we released the 7100, which handles the less-than-25 user market. Some would classify those as very small businesses, some would simply say small businesses. The OfficeServ 7100 has integrated voicemail, and it has the capability of supporting analog, digital and IP, just like the rest of the 7000 Series. It has some data capability too, but it doesn’t yet support the whole gamut of routing, switching, firewall, intrusion detection systems and VPN. Those capabilities will be added within the next six months. It will be an additional card that inserts into our little 2U-high 19-inch rackmount device that houses the OfficeServ 7100.”
First-time exhibitor Syn-Apps (www.syn-apps.com) develops custom value-add IP telephony applications for both Cisco IP telephony solutions and legacy overhead paging systems. At the show Syn-Apps was showcasing its portfolio of solutions, particularly the 13 products that leverage the Cisco ComManager Platform, which includes everything from IP Telephony Paging to Emergency Response Solutions (“Call Alert”), Panic Buttons under the Desk, and so forth.
As a Syn-Apps spokesperson said, “Many of our competitors have one product that covers multiple requirements of a customer. We’ve tried instead to come up with an ‘a la carte menu for features and functionality. So, you may want IP paging but you don’t necessarily need ‘Do Not Disturb’ functionality. So we’ve decoupled things like that from the platform. They can all reside on a single platform, but the idea is that you can just buy the features and functionality that you need for the enterprise, so you don’t get stuck with buying something you’re not going to use.”
The spokesperson continued: “We’ve been in business for eight years and have been a Cisco Technology Development Partner and a Microsoft Development Partner too. We also do custom development, so if an enterprise is looking for something to augment their Cisco telephony system, we bring that to the market, but we do it in a different way. Normally one does software development on a per hour cost. We’ll look at that product specification and give the customer a fixed bid, but we’ll maintain the intellectual property. Hence, they get their product and we’ll consider to sell it long-term. So the customer pays for a low fixed bid and we get to sell the final product in the retail market.”
Time Warner Telecom
Time Warner Telecom (www.twtelecom.net) is headquartered in Littleton, CO
, is a leading provider of managed networking solutions to a wide array of businesses and organizations in 75 markets spanning 30 states and D.C. Although it began in 1993 as a joint venture with Time Warner Cable (now a unit of Time Warner Inc.), in July 1998 it became a separate entity and reorganized into Time Warner Telecom LLC. In May 1999, it issued an IPO and became Time Warner Telecom, Inc.
“We are new to downtown Los Angeles,” said a Time Warner Telecom spokesperson. “Our office recently moved to downtown L.A. proper, so we thought it would be a good time to introduce the local serving area. We’ve actually be supporting Los Angeles for several years, we saw ITEXPO, held in downtown L.A., as a good avenue to introduce our company. We support enterprises, carriers and we do wholesale. We share leads with partners too.”
Richard Grigonis is an internationally-known technology editor and writer. Prior to joining TMC as Executive Editor of its IP Communications Group, he was the Editor-in-Chief of VON Magazine from its founding in 2003 to August 2006. He also served as the Chief Technical Editor of CMP Media’s Computer Telephony magazine, later called Communications Convergence (News - Alert), from its first year of operation in 1994 until 2003. In addition, he has written five books on computers and telecom (including the Computer Telephony Encyclopedia and Dictionary of IP Communications). To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.