TMCnet - World's Largest Communications and Technology Community



tmc logo
August 2007 | Volume 10 / Nuber 8
Editorial Sponsorship Series

Inter-Tel's Unified Communications Platforms

An Editorial Series Sponsored By Inter-Tel

Unified communications (UC) is a descendant of IP communications, computer telephony and the “convergence” movement to eliminate “siloed” applications such as email, instant messaging, wireless, VoIP and conferencing. UC integrates the workings of not just corporate mobile, voice and data systems, but of people, communications and business processes, thus enhancing productivity, slashing costs and boosting customer satisfaction.

One renowned vendor in the area of unified communications is Inter-Tel, Incorporated (, a global provider of communications products and applications, as well as managed services that center on voice and data network design, traffic provisioning, custom application development, and financial solutions.

Aron Aicard, a product manager at Inter-Tel, says, “Our two unified communications platforms are the Inter-Tel Unified Communicator® and Inter-Tel Personal Communicator.”

“The Inter-Tel Unified Communicator was our first UC product to go to market,” says Aicard, “launched about four years ago with our Inter-Tel AXXESS platform and later offered with the Inter-Tel® 5000. Our Unified Communicator's design focuses on the 'SIP-ability' of communications that rely on SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) as opposed to the mere consolidation of stored messages. Many early 'foundational' UC products simply sent voice, fax and email into a single email inbox. We took a different course, concentrating instead on the pieces that bring modern real-time communications together, and unifying them. That process begins with a good presence engine that ties users and devices together seamlessly and extends presence throughout the organization to various users. Indeed, we started with a 'pervasive presence' model that ultimately helped us bring personalized advanced call routing capabilities down to the user level so they could control it and thus configure the intelligent automatic handling of calls. The concept also feeds into other applications such as contact management, conferencing and IM within the enterprise.”

“The Inter-Tel Unified Communicator platform also encompasses advanced CTI [Computer Telephony Integration] technology,” says Aicard, “so that you have complete control over all of your organization's desk phones. No additional CTI-type of application for call control is necessary, which gives you a lot of flexibility. The system delivers consistency and performance across a wide range of scenarios. The platform puts buyers in control of how much they spend and what architectural choices they make.”

“Moreover, the system's tools are pervasive - they don't 'care' whether they're linked to a digital phone at the desk or an IP or wireless set. The system could just as easily route phones calls outside of the office; to your cell phone, for example, or your home phone, and bring it back again to the common voice mailbox of the corporate phone system, so that traditional unified messaging in a unified inbox can still occur.”

“Recently, we incorporated Inter-Tel Audio and Web Conferencing into the platform,” says Aicard. “So now, in addition to the real-time control, advanced routing, contacts and phone control, there's also a unified desk-to-desk web collaboration experience. Essentially, we've brought to our users a single application that delivers what many people still spend for separate products. These include desk-to-desk videoconferencing, web collaboration and document sharing, whiteboarding, text messaging, user polling, formal and informal conferences and meetings, full multimedia call recording and session management/document management. All of these are in one consolidated product that focuses on bringing the best of presence, real-time communication and messaging to our users. That's where we stand today, with something that's very rich and very compelling.”

“Our approach to mobility is that our applications don't care about the device or network, and therefore we can route communications intelligently across various networks and devices in a common manner,” says Aicard. “Regardless of where your PCs and notebooks are, and regardless of which PCs you're logged into, you have the same experience. You just need a common web browser running somewhere and your main applications will be available to you. We deliver pervasive worldwide accessibility without the burden of complicated VPN or other network deployments. Additionally, we're bringing mobility down to the handset and PDA level.”

“We generally target Unified Communicator to SMB buyers,” Aicard observes. “Under our managed service portfolio, businesses can roll everything into a manageable, monthly payment, taking the CAPEX burden out of the equation so that small businesses don't confront a barrier of entry. Indeed, we often see a high adoption rate of advanced applications in SMBs, simply because SMBs use these tools to get whatever edge over their competitors that they can.”

“Our second UC solution is the Inter-Tel Personal Communicator,” says Aicard. “It extends our Inter-Tel 7000 softswitch. Think of Personal Communicator as everything I've just discussed tied into a single standards-based softswitch and prepared and ready to integrate with the rest of the world in rapid fashion thanks to its standards-centric design. Imagine looking four-to-six years out, and think about what businesses will expect to run on this foundation. We're taking some of those concepts and making them real in an accelerated manner. When vendors introduce something new and innovative in the UC space, such as an advancement in conferencing or web collaboration, we'll be able to integrate it into our platform very rapidly and inexpensively. Thus, there's a win in three major categories: technology investment, functionality advancement, and cost of the solution.”

“Moreover, the standards-based, open interface approach means that we can integrate with the business applications and back-end systems driving the organization,” says Aicard. “CTOs today are aligning technology with their business processes. The best way for us to do that is to create a unified softswitch that delivers UC and still opens up, all in a unified manner, to the other systems, be they CRM apps, ERPs, or back-end databases. It doesn't matter what key applications exist in the enterprise. There's clearly a need to tie real-time communications to those non-real-time databases and to the other real time non-communications systems. Unified communications becomes more valuable when it's tied to things people don't think of as communications tools, such as inventory management or database tools.” IT

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

Internet Telephony Magazine Table of Contents

Today @ TMC
Upcoming Events
ITEXPO West 2012
October 2- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
The World's Premier Managed Services and Cloud Computing Event
Click for Dates and Locations
Mobility Tech Conference & Expo
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
Cloud Communications Summit
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas