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June 2007
Volume 10 / Number 6


Hosted Services - A Logical Choice
for Business

By Richard “Zippy” Grigonis, Editorial Sponsorship Series

Arizona-based Inter-Tel (news - alert) (, which recently announced its intention to merge with Mitel Networks Corp., (news - alert) has long been known worldwide for its advanced, innovative communications hardware and software for business. It started over two decades ago with its IMX PBX line and progressed to its Axxess open computer telephony integration platform; in recent years the enterprise-scale, SIP-based Inter-Tel® 7000 that, along with its embedded presence management features, has impressed major corporations worldwide.

Now, Inter-Tel transforms the small-andmedium business (SMB) world with its remarkable new Inter-Tel® 5000 Network Communications Solution, a state-of-the-art system capable of serving both new and existing Inter-Tel customers.

Inter-Tel's Director of Product Marketing, Aron Aicard, says, "We consider the Inter-Tel 5000 a mid-range system, but we target environments as low as 25 users and up to 500 users per site. The Inter-Tel 5000 has a distributed architecture so the customer's size could be as large as a retail chain operation, where you encounter dozens of facilities with thousands of users that need to be tied together. However, our target is the SMB market - a few hundred users and less, usually per company and per site."


Backward Compatibility

According to Aicard, the Inter-Tel 5000 Series is compatible with earlier Axxess systems. He lists several reasons why this is important: First, it helps Inter-Tel migrate its existing customer base forward into newer architectures and platforms and, more importantly, new applications. Second, it's also valuable for new customers who have a need for what Aicard calls large legacy-type architecture systems. Many companies out there still need to support a high number of digital or even analog phone sets. For example, universities don't want to install high-end digital phones into a dorm room, so there are still a lot of analog deployments going on. Inter-Tel can go into a site with a mixed environment, because it can achieve seamless connectivity between Axxess and Inter-Tel 5000 systems. Multiple Inter-Tel 5000 platforms can be stacked next to each other in a seamless manner thanks to the distributed architecture. The same can be done with Axxess, because both the 5000 and Axxess platforms share a common networking protocol. Once again, this is completely seamless to users, who can blend both new and legacy technology. This is a powerful concept that has opened many doors for Inter-Tel.

Inter-Tel's basic platform consists of three building blocks: a core system, endpoints and applications.

"The Inter-Tel 5000 series is a platform designed to serve a wide range of needs in the SMB," says Aicard. "The platform itself is a compact, 1U (1.75-inch) high server, along with the endpoints, as is the case with a typical phone system. But what really makes the platform unique is how we go to market and how we deliver advanced applications to literally change the way that businesses do business on a day-to-day basis."


It's All About Applications

"We like to refer to our platform as the Great Enabler," says Aicard, "These days, people are investing in infrastructure - they're upgrading their routers and switches. They're buying better WANs. They invest in management tools. All of this behavior is tied to a concept that I call 'preparation' - people are investing in the opportunity to do great things with their new converged infrastructure, to run advanced, productivity-boosting applications. The applications make the final connection between the technology investment and the business process. The most valuable thing that can happen in communications is the creation of that link; it happens in the applications layer, and that's an area on which we at Inter-Tel focus. It extends from product development all the way out to how we sell and customize our solutions, customer by customer."

"At the end of the day these are all simply tools," says Aicard. "We do a really good job of marrying-up the toolset with the problems and opportunities faced by a typical individual business. We custom-tailor our solutions to meet its needs so that we can help them get their goals accomplished and help them overcome obstacles that they perhaps didn't realize were communications-related - we draw the connections for them. We show these businesses how modern communications can help solve a variety of problems and help them go after opportunities."


Architecture and Form Factors

The Inter-Tel 5000 Series all-in-one solution is an amazingly compact, 1U high, 19- inch wide rackmount device, a "pizza box".

Inter-Tel's idea here is to provide an all-inone solution for the smaller business environment that doesn't want to deal with managing multiple boxes.

As Aicard explains it, these 1U modules go into the rack, and as a result customers can manage the phone system and trunk interfaces - no external gateways are needed, which is particularly beneficial to SMBs who do not want lots of components taking up space around the office. The call processing system and the gateways are built into the system, as are voicemail and music-on-hold. Moreover, there are no spinning disks - every-thing is stored on Flash memory. It's a very reliable, simple, appliance-like solution that's particularly easy for SMBs to manage.

As Aicard beams, "So, that's the core system - concise, straightforward and to-thepoint. Applications are sold 'a la carte, so a particular buyer can customize his suite. For example, certain buyers might want to leverage contact center solutions heavily and they don't need desk-to-desk collaboration tools. The application suite is very modular and it allows a business to pick and choose what it wants."


A Family of Three

The Inter-Tel 5000 Series is actually a family of three server-based systems.

The first is the CS-5200 Network Communications Solution, which is the smallest system in terms of port capacity but still offers a comprehensive communications system. It runs on Linux and supports either four or eight-ports of voicemail. Its capacity ranges from 25 to 75 users. The system also supports two optional 48-port Digital Expansion Units [DEIs] to give the system 96 digital ports that support both digital and analog endpoints. The DEIs can also be fitted for the larger CS-5400 and CS-5600 systems."

The Inter-Tel® CS-5400, Communication Server has the same base as the CS-5200, but it scales up to 175 IP endpoints, and can support three T-1s. Finally, the high performance Inter-Tel® CS-5600 has the same base as the CS-5200, but it serves up to 250 IP users per location. Each of these platforms, of course, can support Inter-Tel's full breadth of applications.


All-in-One Technology

Looking over its list of features and capabilities, one can safely say that the Inter-Tel 5000 Series is the epitome of what a converged "next-generation" business communications system should be: a modular, scalable, IP-centric system architecture, remote office and WAN failover capability, backward compatibility with the feature set of Inter-Tel's Axxess platform, and aggressively priced.

So, what's not to love about the Inter-Tel 5000?

Why the Inter-Tel® 5000 is a Hit Among Resellers
By Jeff Ford, Division President and CTO, Inter-Tel

Since the company was founded in 1969, Inter-Tel's hallmark has always been its uncanny ability to accurately identify the challenges small- and medium-sized businesses face, and then utilize the best available technology at that particular time to deliver solutions that enable customers to tangibly improve businesses processes. It is a philosophy that helped Inter-Tel® evolve from a small Phoenix-based start up into a global provider of next generation voice and converged platforms and software.

The most recent example of Inter-Tel's prowess in serving the small- and mid-size sector is the success of the Inter-Tel® 5000 family of solutions. First released in mid-2005, these IP-centric platforms serve businesses ranging from 25 to 250 users per site, and offer customers Inter-Tel's powerful array of IP-powered applications, like presence management, conferencing and collaboration, contact center, and mobility tools. Businesses appreciate the Inter-Tel 5000 for a number of reasons, including its support of legacy digital and analog endpoints that enable financially-conscious customers to preserve as much as their technology investment as possible.

And while the Inter-Tel 5000 has certainly impressed customers with its numerous productivity and efficiency advantages, it may very well be that the Inter-Tel® 5000's most ardent admirers are the company's network of 350 reseller partners throughout North America. It is the sales channel that competes-and increasingly wins deals-with the Inter-Tel 5000.

"Our Inter-Tel 5000 sales continue to be brisk," shares Steve Klenner of BSB Communications Inc. of St. Clair Shores, Michigan, an Inter-Tel exclusive reseller. "We regularly run into competitors that are bidding systems that are not addressing the needs of a smaller company. They may not have the right mix of features and applications, or do not support a full range of IP, digital and analog devices. When they do address the customer's needs, more often than not, they are priced out of range for most small businesses. The Inter-Tel® 5000 gives us the ability to offer the right solutions at the right price, which our customers certainly appreciate, as much as we do."

Scott Diamond of US Voice & Data, an Inter-Tel® reseller located in Louisville, Kentucky concurs. "Many technology vendors wrongly perceive small businesses to be too unsophisticated or too cash-strapped to really leverage Voice over IP," he explains. "In fact, the exact opposite is true. Smaller companies usually have very sophisticated needs. They typically rely on remote workers and mobile sales professionals, and often times compete against larger companies with a lot more resources. As a result, they are looking for a communications system that can help level the playing field-without breaking the bank. We have sold a number of Inter-Tel 5000s into environments like these, and the feedback we've received is that these systems deliver exactly what customers are looking for in terms of more productivity, better efficiency and lower costs. In our business, this speaks volumes."

In addition to winning more deals, resellers also like the Inter-Tel 5000 for its ease of installation, configuration and management. "Every time we have to roll a truck to a customer site and solve a technical issue, it not only causes stress for both the user and ourselves, it quickly eats away at our profits," explains Todd Wittman of Protel Communications, an Inter-Tel partner located in San Diego, California.

"The Inter-Tel 5000 is probably one of the most intuitive and user-friendly platforms available to businesses. We find it extremely easy to install, and the majority of our customers are so comfortable in administering the system themselves, they may not call us for months," he laughs.

"From our perspective, the Inter-Tel 5000 hits on all cylinders in serving small business needs."



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