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Unified Communications Magazine November 2007
Volume 1 / Number 3
Unified Communications Magazine

A Great Duet: Quintum�s Tenor and Microsoft OCS 2007


Quintum Technologies (www.quintum.com) understands that most companies aren't going perform a "forklift upgrade" on their whole network infrastructure to garner the benefits of voiceover- IP (VoIP) and unified communications (UC), no matter how tempting Microsoft's Office Communications (OCS) Server 2007 may make that appear.

Still, today's public and private organizations must face a dynamic, expanding, hybrid network serving both traditional circuit-switched PSTN and packet-switched NGN voice, video and data traffic. VoIP may have to travel over a connection between existing PBXs, or IP-PBX functionality may have to be extended to branch offices, or the new IP-PBX must be integrated with existing PBXs or legacy voice equipment. And if the IP-PBX network fails, the equipment in the branch offices should survive and continue handling calls unabated.

That's why Quintum developed a comprehensive line of intelligent Quintum Tenor� VoIP access switching and gateway solutions that can now be found in enterprise and service provider networks worldwide. The Tenors have a very low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) because they fit into just about any network and need no PBX modifications to interoperate across PBX and IP-PBX environments. The Tenor's ease of ownership, not to mention its scalability and remote management capabilities, are all made possible without any additional equipment or incurring any provisioning expenses.

Chuck Rutledge, Quintum's VP of Marketing, says, "We're doing some exciting things with Microsoft. We're one of the few Microsoft Office Communications Server [OCS] 2007 Gateway Partners. We're utilizing our gateway to support their unified communications effort."

"At the top of the list of concerns for anybody who is deploying UC utilizing Microsoft OCS 2007 is. . . how do you talk to the rest of the world? To connect to the PSTN, you need a gateway. Accompanying that is your desire to integrate your existing infrastructure in with your shiny new OCS 2007 architecture. Many companies want to deploy UC - not wholesale, however, just a single site install such as their headquarters. They expect later on to be able to connect their branch offices. Or perhaps they want to deploy UC to benefit their sales organization, but they don't want to change the way the rest of their business works, so they want to integrate it in their existing PBX. As time goes forward, they expect to make their future investments in their UC system as opposed to the legacy system. The legacy equipment slowly gets written off and it will be replaced piecemeal with a UC infrastructure. So there's this need to integrate the UC world with the legacy network that's in place in the enterprise."

Rutledge elaborates: "As it happens, our products are very good for such scenarios because we've always had our MultiPath� architecture designed to sit between the PBX and the PSTN and intelligently route calls off to a VoIP network, in this case a UC network. It leverages many benefits that we've always brought to the table, in that the Quintum Tenor can be placed between the PBX and the phone network very easily without making any modifications either of those and then calls can be intelligently routed between the three points of OCS 2007, the existing PBX and the PSTN. What I just described is a basic installation, and it satisfies the 'top-of-the-list' concerns of somebody deploying UC." (See diagram.)

"As companies deploy UC they see other issues too," says Rutledge. "For example, the UC infrastructure really deals with the desktop and things like unified messaging. It deals with application-driven voice features, but again, these are desktop features. But there are a variety of items that also must be integrated into the environment from an analog perspective; these aren't IP-based but are nevertheless part of the voice network. Fax is the classic example of such a system that must be integrated in, and although it's not supported by Microsoft, our technology has the ability to identify an incoming call as a fax call and then route it directly to a fax machine."

"Other unusual devices include postage meters, alarm systems and other modem-based systems, cordless phones, intercoms and P.A. systems," says Rutledge. "All these things that aren't really UC or IP-based need to be integrated in as part of our telecom systems. Obviously we at Quintum can integrate those in as well."

"Moreover, we're introducing as part of our gateway solution to the UC space the idea of a UC proxy," says Rutledge. "The Tenor's integrated switching provides an 'any-to-any' connectivity. Calls can go between SIP and TDM environments using the traditional gateway mechanism. Or, you can also call SIP-to-SIP, or TDM-to-TDM. For example, if you have a IP-PBX in which you've already invested, but you're looking to integrate your UC infrastructure with Microsoft software, the Quintum Tenor could not only provide connectivity to the PSTN and the legacy PBX, but it could also manage the SIP signaling between OCS and an IP PBX."

"What's also critical in the Microsoft world today is what they call a Mediation Server," says Rutledge, "which is essentially a device that provides the interface between the true OCS and SIP worlds. Each mediation server supports just one gateway, but with our UC Proxy, we can essentially hide the topology from other gateways behind the Tenor. So you could have a digital Tenor that may be connected between the PSTN and the PBX, providing connectivity to OCS, and then you could have another analog gateway that sits behind it, transparent to OCS and providing connectivity for your fax machines or some of those other analog devices."

Rutledge adds, "Or, you could have a gateway that sits out in a branch office and, again, it sits behind the Tenor gateway that resides with the Mediation Server and we are able to extend those gateway capabilities into a branch office where you want to support OCS as well. And then, out in the branch office, we can provide SIP connectivity back to OCS, so you can use traditional SIP phones and we'll manage the signaling between those SIP phones and OCS. And we can provide survivability for that too."

"So we're leveraging a lot of the capabilities that we've had in the past, and at the same time bringing in some new capabilities too," says Rutledge.

In a complex, dynamic network you need a flexible, scalable box. With the Quintum Tenor, organizations can bring together legacy equipment with the new generation of unified communications. A true converging device.


Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC's IP Communications Group.

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