Welcome to the 15th annual INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine TMC (News - Alert) Labs Innovation Awards where we honor innovative technologies. This year we had some interesting applicants, including HD videoconferencing, a virtual SBC, cloud-based Wi-Fi, mobility solutions, security applications, and more. TMC Labs has enjoyed discovering and testing innovative products and services within the communications industry for many years, and one of the things we enjoy most is giving TMC Labs Innovation Awards to innovative technology products.
TMC Labs uses a rigorous application and selection process when choosing innovative products and services. This year, TMC Labs proudly recognizes the following companies with TMC Labs Innovation Awards.
The SBC market is seeing a good deal of change thanks to M&A activity and, as a result, customers are enjoying a tremendous amount of innovation as many players up the ante by improving their features and functions. Case in point is Sonus – the company that really made its name as a softswitch provider and in the past few years has become an important player in the session border control space. The Sonus SBC SWe can be installed on industry-standard servers, in virtualized environments, or as a hosted service. Because the SBC SWe does not require a physical footprint and can be remotely installed and managed, it offers increased flexibility compared to hardware-based solutions in terms of redundancy planning to mitigate the effects of network outages and natural disasters. As telcos become software telcos and move toward network functions virtualization, this is the exact sort of innovation that is needed.
VirtualPBX CRM Connector
Years before more mainstream hosted voice services came on the scene, VirtualPBX was there, leading the way. In fact, the company persevered during the same dotcom bust that killed off a slew of competitors. Now, it has added CRM Connector, which helps bring the platform into the wonderful world of customer relationship management – allowing companies to utilize the cloud for all of their customer-facing interactions. The solution utilizes ruby and nginx web technologies and works across Windows, Mac, or Linux computers, and a range or Polycom and Yealink (News - Alert) VoIP phones.
Grandstream Networks Inc.
GXP2140/GXP2160 Enterprise HD IP Phones
With competition from softphones and cellphones, the desktop IP phone has had to keep up with competition from various directions. Grandstream’s GXP2140/GXP2160 Enterprise HD IP phones are Linux-based devices and include four lines, five XML programmable soft keys, and five-way conferencing. A 4.3-inch color LCD screen and HD audio allow for a crisp display and high quality calls. The GXP2140 comes equipped with Bluetooth, USB, and EHS capabilities for flexibility. The phone also comes pre-loaded with weather and currency exchange apps. In addition, you can add up to four GXP2200EXT modules to view 160 more lines, and customize your language for global use. Sure, mobile phones may be more portable, but they still lack the core telecom functionality of this multifaceted IP communications device and at a starting price of $139, cost shouldn’t be an obstacle to purchase.
OptiDriver addresses one of the largest ongoing operational costs for data centers and service providers today: space and power. MRV’s OptiDriver lowers critical power and real estate expenses by offering data centers and service providers low power consumption per 10G/100G service and compact element for high service count delivery. As a result, power savings can be up to 60 percent while space savings could hit 50 percent. OptiDriver can be used in data centers, content delivery networks, and large carrier environments. Moreover, it supports intelligent ROADM and 100gbps transport, and features built-in testing and rapid turn-up capabilities. Bandwidth requirements aren’t predicted to decrease anytime soon, but electricity budgets and space aren’t growing as quickly – if at all. This is the exact sort of environment where a product like OptiDriver should shine.
With built-in NFC, motion sensors, 300-foot range, as well as the ability to connect to a softphone, mobile and desk phone as well as touchscreen support, the Jabra MOTION OFFICE has to be one of the most feature-packed headsets on the market. If that isn’t enough, it can also connect to a laptop or home office through a USB adapter and has industry-leading battery life and looks that kill. In a world where tech style is more important than function, Jabra proves you can have both.
As mentioned above, IP phones are competing with mobile phones – but in the case of this product, Voxox is not fighting the trend but embracing it. Cloud Phone is a solution that merges the best of the cloud with mobile devices, allowing a small business to have workers found by their customers via the device they rely on most. Moreover, the solution is a great way to connect branch offices with CRM systems, as there is no remote software or hardware needed to make this a viable solution.
The mobile-centric cloud platform is a recurring theme in this year’s awards, and RingCentral Office is an established player in the hosted communications space with a new offering worth considering. The product enables any size business to communicate and collaborate across multiple office locations. It includes integrated voice, fax, text, HD video and web conferencing, plus out-of-the-box integrations with business apps, such as SalesForce, Dropbox, and Box. There are also mobile apps for iOS and Android platforms, and a softphone option for Windows and Mac. Since RingCentral is a hosted PBX solution there are no on-premises hardware requirements for customers.
Business Edition-Premises version
In the nineties, Genesys was one of the first companies to connect PBXs and computer systems across a wide variety of platforms. Over the years the company has always stood for leading edge contact center technology – even as it became merged with Alcatel, later Alcatel-Lucent, and now as a standalone company. Built on the Genesys Customer Experience Platform, the Genesys Business Edition delivers the optimal customer experience with the simplicity and functionality required by mid-sized contact centers ranging up to 1,000 seats. The edition has best-in-class capabilities delivered with simplicity to maximize first contact resolution, meet customer SLAs, improve website sales conversions, optimize cross-sell revenue from existing customers, and improve customer loyalty. It also improves employee satisfaction and results, and reduces the cost of operations through efficiency gains. All of this is delivered over your customers’ channels of choice, with low customer effort. Customers can choose to run their contact center in the cloud, on-premises with a pre-configured appliance, or in a hybrid cloud configuration. The on-premises appliance comes in multiple configurations. Hybrid cloud options allow you to use your existing telecommunications providers, store sensitive data locally, or augment existing Genesys on-premises deployments. The Business Edition offers multi-channel workforce management, tightly integrated with interaction routing capabilities, to optimize the efficiency of your workforce. While delivering a great customer experience, Genesys allows your operational managers to control routing execution through the workforce schedule, greatly improving responsiveness and agility.
The need for wireless connectivity is a critical and growing requirement for business operations. As these needs grow, organizations are challenged to handle the growing number of employee-owned devices to connect customers and guests to Wi-Fi networks, as well as recruit sufficient IT resources to support the increasing demand. ProCloud Wi-Fi by ADTRAN offers a fully-managed, business-class Wi-Fi service built on ADTRAN’s Bluesocket (News - Alert) cloud-based virtual wireless LAN solution. ProCloud Wi-Fi delivers a "no worry" cloud-hosted and fully managed, business-class Wi-Fi service with guaranteed 99.99 percent uptime, 24x7 monitoring, technical issue resolution, and advance hardware replacement. In addition, ADTRAN’s ProServices offers comprehensive network design and installation services (optional), ensuring hassle-free installation that optimizes wireless coverage across the organization, addressing the needs of practically any business size, from a small business with a few APs, to a very large enterprise spread across multiple locations with thousands of APs. Finally, there is a private-label option, empowering ADTRAN’s customers to deliver their own branded managed services, relying on ProServices for hosting infrastructure and back-end support.
Venyu Sentinel Security Suite
Venyu Sentinel Security Suite, powered by Alert Logic, was one of the first offerings to provide security-as-a-service in the cloud to customers. It combines Alert Logic’s security tools and expertise with VMware vCloud Director Cloud. Having a solution in the cloud removes any need for the customer to purchase dedicated software, compute, or appliances. The suite provides customer with an up-to-date IDS database with assistance from the from the Alert Logic staff, which monitors all security events occurring in a customer cloud and/or physical environment. Features include intrusion detection, intrusion protection, and network log management.
The nightmare scenario – your CEO’s board meeting videoconference is choppy because the majority of the company has just launched a viral video of a kitten chasing a green laser. Nothing shortens an IT career quite as quickly. Enter Scrutinizer, a tool that provides incredibly detailed network utilization information of users and applications causing the highest network traffic. Through NetFlow Technology, Scrutinizer is able to retrieve the network traffic details and present them in a flexible graphical view. In addition, Plixer’s Flow Analytics brings traffic flow diagnostics to the next level by adding historical reporting, advanced alarming, and in-depth traffic analysis algorithms to the Scrutinizer software. It easily identifies top applications, conversations, flows, protocols, domains, countries, and subnets on the network, as well as monitors and issues alerts on suspicious or potentially hazardous network behavior patterns. Supported platforms include Cisco Catalyst 2960-X NetFlow-Lite export as well as the Cisco Wireless Controller flow exports, while supported devices include iOS or Flash-based systems like a PC. Threat Index combined with the Threat Heat Map allow security professionals to see past the slew of false positives that plague many threat detection systems. The high and to the right technique of the Threat Heat Map, as well as the Threat Index for weighing different violations differently, provide two specialized metrics that can be observed in the same tab of the Scrutinizer web interface.
Masergy Communications Inc.
Intelligent Service Control (ISC)
Masergy's Intelligent Service Control, designed for Masergy customers using the company’s managed cloud networking services, enables them to dynamically control their network services in real time, giving them complete interaction with Masergy services in real time from any web-enabled device. ISC's global on-demand network elasticity and control provides instant bandwidth that can be dialed up or down to meet any application needs. Customers can increase and decrease the port size and service planes in real time with just a mouse click or swipe of a finger, and only pay for the extra bandwidth used – and just for the specific time they used it. ISC's on-demand dynamic bandwidth allows customers to increase capacity based on specific enterprise business requirements, enabling efficient data back up or replication, disaster recovery and business continuity, unplanned high-definition videoconferencing calls, software updates, or cloud computing resource allocation. ISC gives enterprise networks the real-time flexibility needed to keep the most demanding applications running smoothly. Recent additions include calendar-based bandwidth scheduling, and iOS and Android administration support.
CSG Invotas Security Orchestrator
The CSG Invotas security orchestration solution is designed for large global organizations with investments in threat detection capabilities to enable security operation centers to accelerate incident response and risk mitigation efforts. Target industries include communication service providers, governments, managed security providers, financial institutions, and utility service providers. Invotas helps operators respond in near real time, which allows them to mitigate risks in seconds or minutes, and significantly reduce the window of attack exposure. Using automation technology and a library of workflows, companies can save personnel hours and operational costs. Moreover, they can study network data and identify repeatable actions to create a cyber playbook for all security analysts to use. Security Orchestrator excels at accelerating repetitive responses and automating manual tasks. Manual tasks include writing tickets, switching between tools to take various actions, and sending e-mails for approvals. The system is tailored to emulate organizational procedures and evaluate automation procedures so that all pre-planned actions are tested and approved based on existing roles and authorities. Ultimately, orchestration tools allow security teams to manage organizational risk holistically to preserve business continuity and revenue generation. Invotas allows security analysts to actively participate in revenue generation discussions and increased bottom-line performance. Invotas prides itself on allowing organizations to focus on complex defensive strategies as it deals with repeatable, measureable processes to speed response time and free resources.
Calabrio ONE is a comprehensive suite of contact center workforce optimization and analytics software that’s easy to implement, use, and maintain. Calabrio ONE includes call recording, quality assurance, workforce management, speech, text, and desktop analytics and performance-based dashboards and reporting. Calabrio ONE is flexible – providing product bundles and add-ons that make it easy for customers to begin with the right set of applications and features for their business today, then build on their success with new applications and features as their businesses mature and their needs evolve. Calabrio ONE is built on a modern Web 2.0-based architecture that allows the contact center to integrate new applications easily, as well as personalize and optimize the desktop toolset for each user – agents, supervisors, managers, knowledge workers, and executives. Highlights include widget-based agent functionality as well as suitability to working with unstructured phone data to turn it into valuable and potentially strategic information. Some recent additions to the product include text analytics, tighter integration between Calabrio ONE applications, a new multi-channel media player, and broader integration to third-party applications, new mobile iCal and Outlook integrations, and a new WFM forecasting and scheduling features sporting an intuitive, social media-like design (useful if you just can’t get enough of Facebook (News - Alert).)
As you can see, there are a wide range of companies here reflecting some of the hot trends in the market such as security, cloud, and mobile. We congratulate the winners and look forward to seeing what sorts of new and exciting improvements we’ll see going forward.
Edited by Maurice Nagle