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April 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 4
Editorial Series

ApplianX by Aculab — Easy to Deploy, Easy to Use.

By: Richard "Zippy" Grigonis

Aculab has long been known worldwide as a highly-regarded provider of enabling technology for solution providers and VoIP developers. For example, their Prosody X board was the first to combine packet and legacy circuit-switched technologies for complex media processing and signalling on a single, cost effective piece of hardware, making it popular among developers of converged telephony solutions. The company is also a pioneer and major proponent of Host Media Processing (HMP), as embodied in its software-based Prosody S platform.

Aculab’s latest innovation is ApplianX (, a family or “range” of single-purpose appliances designed for quick deployment in the telecom network infrastructure of enterprises, data centers and service providers. Today’s solutions providers want the benefits of advanced telecom technology involving Voice-over-IP (VoIP), SIP (Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert)), as well as traditional TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) telephony. But such far-sighted organizations want to focus solely on the applications themselves, avoiding the associated development costs and time needed to build a solution and integrate enabling technology by writing software using C++ or application programming interfaces. Similarly, IT managers prefer the easy installation and management of reliable hardware and software rather than wasting time dealing with low-level technical details. For these people, Aculab has brought forth the ApplianX range.

Faye McClenahan, Aculab’s Head of Strategic Marketing, says, “ApplianX is pronounced ‘appliance’. The ‘X’ represents Aculab’s enabling technology on which they are based, our award-winning Prosody X IP media processing cards. ApplianX was developed after talking to our existing customer base and prospects, in addition to taking input from the marketplace. It became apparent that companies want something that’s easy to use, a plug-and-play device that can be deployed far quicker than building something with enabling technologies, and yet it should be able to call upon the resources of enabling technologies. Moreover, there’s a growing trend whereby the customer wants to personally select individual components for a total communications system and network. Finally, such devices must have great deal of high availability and resiliency.”

“So, with those customer requirements in hand,” says McClenahan, “Aculab decided to launch a completely new product range, ApplianX. All of the products in the ApplianX portfolio share some common characteristics. They’re all plug-and-play devices. They have a set-up Wizard and an intuitive graphical user interface. For example, with the ApplianX IP gateway, you literally go through just five screens to get the system up and running and accepting calls.”

“But we’ve also made these products to be single-purpose,” says McClenahan, “Companies don’t have to endure a lengthy process to set up and configure a general-purpose device to a particular situation. Each ApplianX is a box they can plug into their network, and it can then almost immediately fulfill a particular network role. We are looking to offer a comprehensive range of ApplianX ‘boxes’.”

Indeed. The ApplianX portfolio will encompasses a remarkable, diverse array of single-purpose devices, with each product having more features than one would expect in a plug-and-play appliance, yet at the same time being the most cost-effective alternative, thus making each device highly competitive in its particular market sector. The two Gateway products being the first to be made available in the range:

  • The ApplianX Gateway for Microsoft (News - Alert) Office Communications Server 2007
  • Working in partnership with Microsoft, the ApplianX Gateway for Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 is an easy to deploy, standards-based SIP-to-TDM gateway, which has been specifically designed to allow enterprises to take full advantage of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 in a mixed IP and TDM environment. As a certified ‘basic hybrid’ gateway the Microsoft Mediation Server is incorporated within a single ApplianX Gateway (News - Alert) device. As such it can significantly lower the total cost of ownership, as fewer components are required.
  • TThe ApplianX IP Gateway, an easy to deploy SIP-to-TDM gateway for enterprises and service centers, capable of briding an internal VoIP or packet-switched telecoms network and the external PSTN, a PBX (News - Alert) or private circuit-switched network. It supports an extensive portfolio of global PSTN protocols, such as DPNSS and Q.SIG.
  • The ApplianX VoiceXML (News - Alert) Media Server, a standards-based media service platform for service center and enterprise installations, can link to either TDM or IP (SIP) networks and execute applications written to VXML 2.0 and CCXML 1.0.
  • The ApplianX SIP Trunking Gateway, a TDM-to-SIP (VoIP) gateway, usually installed in an enterprise or service centre. It supports an internal TDM-based telecoms infrastructure (PBXs etc.) and provides access to either remote PSTN services provisioned over a public or managed IP network, or as a VPN replacement using a public or private IP network for transport.
  • The ApplianX 3G Video Gateway, extends the abilities of the ApplianX IP Gateway by providing gateway capability between IP-based Video streams and the 3G mobile network. It’s suited for service provider and enterprise deployments and supports the popular 3G-324M multimedia protocol.
  • The ApplianX SS7 Signalling Node, an SS7 interface unit supporting various ‘flavors’ of SS7 signalling , including ETSI (News - Alert) ISUP, ANSI ISUP, China ISUP, and many national variants and derivatives. It also supports several TCAP variants, for non-connection oriented-signaling. ApplianX SS7 Signalling Nodes can be deployed singly, or in load-sharing, resilient, redundant pairs, providing multiple links across multiple trunks, within a single link-set.

So, if your enterprise or service center invests in Aculab’s ApplianX devices, you’ll first discover that there’s no extensive set up or configuration process, then you’ll see that you no longer need to source and integrate different hardware and software components from multiple vendors, nor do you have to manage relations and support issues involving multiple vendors. You don’t even need to know anything about programming or any low-level enabling technology. You can just sit back and immediately enjoy the exciting new, feature-laden services brought about by your ApplianX product.

With the ApplianX product portfolio, Aculab has begun a new era in economical, fixed-function devices which are powerful in their operation and yet easy to use.

ApplianX products can be purchased through Aculab’s network of distribution partners, all of which can be found on the ApplianX website: IT

Richard Grigonis (News - Alert) is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.


Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 — Considerations for Voice Integration

By: Faye McClenahan, Head of Strategic Marketing, Aculab

Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 allows companies to integrate VoIP technology into existing telephony infrastructure, eliminating the need for expensive network overhauls and also extending the useful life of existing investments.

Within the Microsoft OCS 2007 system a number of different components are required, some providing the means to connect to an organization’s existing TDM equipment. These include OCS 2007, Mediation Server, a gateway and office communicator endpoints.

Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 Voice Components are as follows:

  • Microsoft OCS 2007 — this is the main controlling application, exclusively routing all calls. It has its own built-in auto-attendant for answering and routing inbound voice calls. In addition, by adding Exchange 2007 you can gain unified messaging, which presents voice mail and email in a single in-box.
  • Microsoft Mediation Server — Mediation Servers enable OCS 2007 to communicate with VoIP endpoints using standard codecs and SIP.
  • Office Communicator Endpoints — these include: Office Communicator 2007, an Office Communicator handset or peripheral device, Office Live Meeting console and Microsoft Office Roundtable.
  • Gateway — bridging between TDM and IP endpoints.

The gateway component plays an essential role in allowing enterprises to maintain an existing TDM infrastructure yet benefit from the advantages Microsoft OCS 2007 can bring. Microsoft certification, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), ease of deployment and configuration, TDM network interoperability and finally voice quality are all important factors to consider when selecting a gateway. Aculab has worked closely with Microsoft to ensure the ApplianX Gateway for Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 ‘ticks the box’ in all these areas.

Two types of gateway can be used with Microsoft OCS 2007 – the ‘basic’ and ‘basic hybrid’ gateway. As its name suggests, the ‘basic’ gateway simply acts as a standard gateway device, converting IP traffic to TDM traffic and vice versa. It connects to Microsoft OCS 2007 for call control and to a Mediation Server for transcoding and security.

Time and effort must be dedicated to configuring the ‘basic’ gateway to work with Microsoft OCS 2007 and additional time and effort to integrate and connect to the Mediation Server.

Similar to the ‘basic’ gateway, the ‘basic hybrid’ gateway converts IP traffic to TDM traffic and connects to Microsoft OCS 2007 for call control. However, instead of a separate Mediation Server being required, the Mediation Server function is run inside the ‘basic hybrid’ gateway. This lowers TCO, as fewer hardware components are required, which in turn makes integration easier. Furthermore, voice quality is guaranteed because audio is not unnecessarily forced through the network.

The ApplianX Gateway is a certified ‘basic hybrid’ gateway. It has undergone a very rigorous testing process to ensure optimum performance is gained from the combined gateway and Mediation Server and it has been fully tested under full four-port T1 load to ensure there is no degradation of audio quality. In addition, it has been preconfigured to work with Microsoft OCS 2007. A setup wizard will have the ApplianX Gateway accepting calls in four simple steps — as such it takes less time to install, allowing for further time savings.

The integration of telephony with IP-based communications is no easy task. The telephony world is still subject to government regulation of varying degrees, be it of service providers, devices or even standards. Additionally, many national networks operate using different varieties of telephony protocols. And finally, many countries will require that products are certified to connect to the national PSTN.

A similar scenario exists for PBXs. Many variants exist, supporting different protocol ‘flavors’. Whether you are concerned about the country you hope to deploy Microsoft OCS 2007 or the PBX you will be connecting to, the ApplianX Gateway supports the widest range of network and PBX protocols — increasing the likelihood of a trouble-free deployment.

For further information please review Aculab’s Webinar: “Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 — Considerations for Voice integration” (

Contact Faye McClenahan at [email protected].


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