PBX Configurations For The Enterprise

PowerConnect software brings cohesiveness to wireless applications for users constantly on the go. Mobile employees whorely on cell phones to keep in touch with the office and respond to business needs will benefit from a full suite of telephony or telecom applications that Ascendent brings to the typical cell phone.

Solution providers that make their living on embedded PBX installations might consider Acendent's turnkey technology for growing cellular use in the enterprise.

From an organizational standpoint, the software is not too intrusive. The technology has a small footprint in the switch room, which can sit on a standard server in a rack. The solution resides on the company's server, provided in the form of an application server.

The solution comes in three different layers of the application with three different price pointsthe first being generic mobility. This first layer gives the end user the same desk-set functionality as one would have if he or she were physically in the office. For instance, an employee on the road can dial four-digit extensions, transfer employees to other field employees and access voicemail, regardless of their choice of service carrier or hardware. The company's technology is completely agnostic and will integrate with any technology.

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The second layer is the conferencing notification package. Solution providers that integrate the package with existing infrastructure can set up the conferencing package to reach out to all the employees scheduled to be on a conference call and ring their phones simultaneouslythis is called "the get me conference call." It's savvy enough to reach out to all employees so they do not have to remember a pin number, a bridge or a conference number.

The third layer of the application is business continuity. This allows organizations the ability to have PBX functionality when there is a crisis. In the event, for example, should inclement weather or security threats cripple a phone system, the technology will mirror the functionality of the phone switch at another site and will give users instant accessibility to their phones. The Ascendent PowerConnect system at the remote site automatically synchronizes with the primary system, without manual intervention. A redundant PBX configuration is not required.

Retail pricing varies greatly per customer and hinges upon the number of users, the modules that are chosen and the type of payment method chosen. An entry-level mobility and notification system for about 100 users starts at about $40,000. Translated to an annual service subscription, the cost is typically $7 to $15 per user per month. Commissions to dealers are tier-based on volume.

CRN Test Center engineers worked out of the administrator's view. From an administration standpoint, the user can do as much or as little as they want. They can change settings per user, per group or manage individual phones, such as a Nextel or BlackBerry device.

Most of the company's VARs deal with moving and renovating customers and are more interested in selling a complete PBX solution.

The company's two-tier channel program focuses on the primary-partner level, referred to as Certified Channel Partners. Those Partners can expect margins of about 30 percent on product sales and additional revenue from integration and support. Certified Channel Partners are expected to attend the company's free of charge sales and technical training and have a yearly sales goal of six to 12 systems. The junior-level partner program, Referral Partners, provides a 15 percent margin. Referral Partners receive pre- and post-sales support, while Certified Partners also earn rebate funds for marketing. Partners have access to a Web site portal, which provides additional support and documentation services.

The company did not clearly define the entry point differences for each level; if there is little difference, prospective partners should seek to achieve the "certified' status and benefit from the higher margins and rebate opportunities.