Alcatel Takes Wraps Off Linux-Based IP PBX

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Alcatel recently launched a new IP PBX platform that runs on Linux and supports industry standards such as XML, VXML and the emerging Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for IP communications.

The new platform, dubbed OmniPCX Enterprise, evolved from and succeeds Alcatel's OmniPCX 4400 IP PBX line.

Like its predecessor, OmniPCX Enterprise supports a mix of analog, digital and IP phones, and up to 5,000 users per server. But Alcatel expects the architecture and pricing of the new product line to make it a better fit for branch offices and smaller customers, said Tom Eggemeir, vice president of channel sales and marketing at Alcatel, based here.

OmniPCX Enterprise is based on hardware Alcatel is currently selling to small and midsize customers in Europe as OmniPCX Office, so it's cost-optimized for smaller offices, said Jeanne Bayerl, marketing director at Alcatel. OmniPCX Enterprise, however, includes software capabilities robust enough to serve large enterprise clients, she said.

The result is that solution providers can implement a common hardware and software platform throughout an enterprise's multisize offices, Bayerl said.

"They just scaled the platform size down so it's not as expensive to manufacture, but they're keeping the intelligence," said Chris Brassington, business consultant at Compel, a convergence solution provider based in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

With the product launch, Alcatel also introduced movable software licenses, which enable solution providers to buy licenses in bulk and then sell them more flexibly to suit customer needs, Bayerl said.

Previously, Alcatel's licenses were fixed to hardware, following the traditional PBX licensing model. Now, if users move to a new location where they are served by a different CPU, they can move their license with them, she said.

By implementing movable licenses, Alcatel has relaxed the licensing process, said Chad Morris, general manager of Tri-Tel Communications, a solution provider in Salt Lake City. "It lowers the cost for us when we compete against Cisco [Systems]," he said.

Down the road, Alcatel might market OmniPCX Office in North America, Eggemeir said. "We made a lot of traction with the 4400. The next phase is to focus also on branch offices," he said. "Once we're fully successful, are capturing significant market share and have happy and profitable partners and happy and profitable customers, we'll analyze the next step."

Base packages of OmniPCX Enterprise for 80 users start at $5,230.

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