25 Hot Products To See At VoiceCon Orlando

Every March, VoiceCon gathers some of the industry's most notable voices in enterprise communications -- from UC platforms to video to mobility and wireless -- for a summit in Orlando. This year's show promises plenty of interest thanks to ongoing consolidation in the space, the changing nature of managing voice and IP infrastructure, the emergence of video and video-as-a-service opportunities, and a broader networking market that's slowly bouncing back after a difficult 2009.

Here are 25 offerings -- some new, some recently upgraded, and almost all available through the channel -- that have caught our eye so far.

Cisco's IME is a server that can connect unified communications systems in individual enterprises and create a secure gateway between them for voice, video and collaboration tools. Part of a push by Cisco to broaden the ways companies use collaborative UC tools beyond their own walls, how it works is that if users in separate enteprises start a video conference session, they can use their existing phone numbers and video-ready UC clients -- soft phones, video phones or otherwise -- to do so. Using the IME, the sessions are VoIP calls, free over an IP network. What's required is that each enterprise have Cisco UC infrastructure, although in the future, the IME will work with any system compatible with ViPR, a new protocol developed by Cisco for use with the IME.

Adtran's NetVanta Unified Communications Solutions Suite is based on the NetVanta 7100, an all-in-one offering for voice and data. The system includes integrated 24-port Power-over-Ethernet switch, an IP router, an IP PBX with 100 SIP stations, support for Adtran IP 707/712 phones and some Polycom phones, SIP/PSTN Gateway internal voicemail, and multilevel auto attendant.

Unimax's 2nd Nature is telecommunications configuration software, designed for use by large organizations and managed service providers who want to take management hassles out of PBX and voice mail systems by managing them on a single interface. The most recent update, in January, was version 6.9, which added a range of record level permissions, as well as compatibility with Avaya's Modular Messaging Subscriber Options, and enhanced support for PBX and voice systems from Avaya, AVST, Cisco and Nortel and Microsoft Active Directory. At VoiceCon, Unimax is announcing a new version of 2nd Nature that adds compatibility for Avaya Communication Manager.

Tone Software earlier this month expanded its line of network monitoring and management tools with ReliaTel-Streamline Management Solution 2.6, described as a "single pane of glass" for network intelligence in converged VoIP networks. It's geared to service providers and enterprises seeking deeper insight into problems with VoIP networks, according to Tone Software, and includes ReliaTel's Operational Knowledge Base, a one-click monitoring function that identifies network problems, and offers up a manufacturer's and a user's list of suggested actions, procedures, documentation, audit trail data and historical trend data, plus a secure remote access "portlet" to address specific network issues on specific devices.

Earning converts left and right, Digium's VoIP-in-a-box system, Switchvox, is its SMB-geared turnkey open source PBX. The latest update is version 4.5, which adds to the system a series of Phone Feature Packs to deliver call recording, visual voice mail and searchable company directories that were previously available only on Web interfaces but not appear on phone handsets themselves.

Empirix makes service quality assurance products for IP communications systems, and in February it released OneSight Voice Quality Assurance, which allows single- and multi-site enterprises to emulate end-user behavior before agents and customers pick up the phone and test for voice quality on the company's UC system. OneSight then provides the network administrator a data report containing everything from voice quality issues to real-time monitoring of VoIP networks. OneSight itself is a pre-set dashboard with supplementary trending and performance report tools.

Tandberg's EX90 personal telepresence unit offers 1080p30 resolution with any standards-based video or telepresence system and uses Tandberg inTouch, the company's proprietary touch-screen interface. It's the latest move by Tandberg to engage the desktop telepresence market and blur the lines between costlier enterprise-class telepresence systems and desktop videoconferencing units. The base unit itself has a 24-inch screen, which also doubles as a PC monitor, and a PrecisionHD Camera which can tilt 90 degrees and let users show nearby objects on the video.

Alcatel-Lucent's OmniTouch My Instant Communicator is offered as a single user license that actually provides five different tools, or, as the company calls them "unified services," in the package. The total UC suite includes telephony services that link to preferred data and voice collaboration software, messaging services, including voicemail, fax and e-mail through Outlook or Lotus Notes, collaboration services including instant message and peer-to-peer video over VoIP, one number services through call routing and screening interfaces, and various presence services. Alcatel-Lucent will be showing off My Instant Communicator at VoiceCon along with a new, enterprise smartphone with a touch-screen, designed to support its various UC tools.

Motorola's EWP3100 continues the company's streak of Voice-over-Wireless-LAN (VoWLAN) smartphones. At press time, Motorola hadn't yet confirmed many of the new features, but will be previewing the handset -- set to be released later this year -- at VoiceCon. The phone itself will be part of Motorola's Total Enterprise Access and Mobility (TEAM) portfolio, which also include new TEAM Radio Link Solution and TEAM Radio Link Solution Express for voice interoperability between radios and Motorola mobile devices.

Managed services provider Nectar is introducing its Virtual Session Border Controller (vSBC), a hosted session border controller intended as an easy Web management portal for converged WANs.

Siemens Enterprise Communucations (SEN) Group continues to tout integration for its OpenScape Unified Communications, its flagship UC platform. The server piece of OpenScape is a software foundation to enable presence, administration, session control and shared services on multi-vendor, legacy infrastructure. It is deployed in two packages, including Medium Edition, a single server option with redundancy up to 1,000 users, or Large Edition, a multi-server configuration for up to 100,000 users, with 20,000 of those users receiving full UC functionality.

One of ShoreTel's latest UC and collaboration offerings is a bundle of ShoreTel IP telephony and collaboration features, including (left) the ShoreWave Professional Call Manager, with IBM Lotus Foundations Reach, the SMB appliance that extends IBM Sametime UC and collaboration tools. The integration was first introduced at IBM Lotusphere in January.

The latest addition to Datacom Systems' Durastream portfolio is a 10G bypass switch designed to protect 10G network links and 10G network monitoring devices from power outages and other network maladies. According to Datacom Systems, whose previous Durastream bypass switch was designed for 1G networks, the 10G Durastream Bypass Switch is used with in-line monitoring tools such as intrusion prevention systems, deep packet inspection devices, VPN gateways and firewalls. Among new features is the bypass switch's "heartbeat" mode, a configurable packet that reports on the continual health of all the network's in-line appliances.

Zeacom's line of UC and contact center software saw a big addition in February with the introduction of Zeacom Gateway for Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS). Zeacom's Gateway allows small- and medium-sized businesses to integrate their phone systems with Microsoft OCS and thus upgrade to an enterprise-class UC platform, with features like presence, Click to Dial, remote presence and desktop sharing.

Calabrio is touting its just-released Calabrio One as "the first and only software-based contact center suite to include workforce optimization applications in a Web 2.0 framework." A few of Calabrio's included applications, such as Calabrio Call Recording 8.0 and Calabrio Quality Management 8.0, appear to users as widgets and allow them to create customizable dashboards (an example of which is seen at left) to manage performance in the contact center.

WIT Software's Flash-to-SIP Gateway is an appliance to enable development and deployment of Adobe Flash and Flex applications across IP networks. According to WIT Software, the Gateway integrates in both IMS and non-IMS environments, and takes a lot of the legwork out of telephony and internet application communication in Flash-enabled Internet browsers like IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. Among features the Gateway provides are voice and video calling (making and receiving calls with other Flash, mobile or fixed destinations), presence, contact management, mobile messaging, instant messaging and other collaboration tools.

Ingate Systems' SIParator is an E-SBC (Enterprise Session Border Controller) that enables SIP trunking by resolving network address translation (NAT) traversal of SIP traffic. The SIParator works in conjunction with SIP Trunk Software Module to normalize SIP signaling between the IP-PBX as well as secure VoIP calls made over SIP trunks. More recently, Ingate has been touting the SIParator's integration with Microsoft OCS and the management of SIP trunks within OCS. A recent client, Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services, used a combination of SIP trunks from BBTelsys and enablement from Ingate, including use of the SIParator to convert Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/IP protocol to SIP within an existing OCS environment.

VoIP provider AudioCodes earlier this month debuted SIP Phone Support (SPS) to Microsoft Unified Communications, an application offers connections to Microsoft OCS via standard SIP IP phones. The problem, as AudioCodes sees it, is that a number of users want access to Microsoft OCS features but don't want to necessarily change their existing IP phone infrastructure. The SPS bridges that gap, and according to AudioCodes, the IP phones supported by SPS include AudioCodes' own 300HD family (pictured), and phones by Cisco, Avaya, Aastra, and Polycom.

Vidyo, an upstart in the telepresence space with its line of Web-accessed personal telepresence products, is at VoiceCon debuting VidyoVoice, a service through which users can join a Vidyo conference "voice only" even without a compute or broadband connection. The goal, according to Vidyo, is to ensure that Vidyo conferences remain a go-to for communication even if not all participants have access to the connection required for Vidyo's over-the-Internet HD conferencing service. A user receives an e-mail with options to join calls online or by phone, with a specified number to join a Vidyo call. Vidyo will make the service available through channel partners starting in April, priced on a subscription fee with flat monthly minute and user amounts.

snom technology AG this week is launching a new expansion module for its 8xx series of VoIP phones. The new module, called snom Vision, includes an additional 16 programmable keys per VoIP phone unit. snom 820 and 870 VoIP phones can also support up to three Vision modules each, meaning 48 programmable endpoint monitors per phone. The Vision is an expansion module, according to snom, but it can be used as a stand-alone device, too, using an Ethernet connection and a Linux operating system with its built-in HTTP and HTTPS server. According to snom, it'll be available by the end of Q2.

Sagem-Interstar specializes in IP fax server products, and at VoiceCon is debuting XMediusFAX AXP 6.5, touted as "the only IP fax server supporting the latest Cisco Application eXtension Platform and new Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR) G2." The AXP 6.5 includes compatibility with Cisco Services Ready Engines and Enhanced Network Modules, has fully certified interoperability with both ISR G2 and ISR G1, includes "auto-healing" branch survivability for disaster recovery, and offers a range of additional FoIP, report generation, SIP-based interoperability and web phonebook features.

Opengear specializes in console server and KVM-over-IP products, and at VoiceCon will launch ACM5004-G, an advanced device server that can support EDGE, GPRS, GSM, HSDA and HSUPA high speed cellular access. According to Opengear, it can be deployed over any GSM network worldwide, offer secure infrastructure management, telemetry and SCADA over wireless, and provide always-on remote management with wired-to-cellular failovver. Among other highlights, the ACM5004-G includes embedded NUT and Powerman to monitor distributed serial, USB and network-attached UPS and PDU systems, embedded FIP140-2 OpenSSL cryptographic module, and built-in temperature monitor and dry contacts for leak detection, smoke alarms, door contacts and vibration sensing.

Acme Packet offers a range of session border controllers (SBC), including the Net-Net 2600 model, which is specifically for VoIP and unified communications for 150 to 4,000 users in the enterprise. Operating Acme Packet's Net-Net OS-E, the Net-Net 2600 can provide SIP, H.323 and SIP-H.323 IWF session control protcols, security measures such as access control, topology hiding, VPN separation and virus and SPIT protection, service and application reach through NAT traversal, IP address translation and IPv4-IPv6, and management through embedded, browser-based configuration and call tracing, among other functions. It also includes Net-Safe, Acme Packet's security framework, which includes denial-of-service protection for layer 3, layer 4 and SIP signaling, as well as other capabilities.

The growth of mobile VoIP is music to the ears of iscoord, which will show its new is-Phone Portable, a VoIP and UC client for Windows, Linux and Mac environments . According to iscoord, a softphone maker based in Zurich, Switzerland, the Portable is platform-independent and can run on PBX and IMS softswitches by 3Com, Adtran, Alcatel-Lucent, Asterisk, Avaya, BroadSoft, Comverse, Cisco, MetaSwitch, Mitel, NEC, Nortel, OpenSIPS, Siemens, SIP Express Routers, SIPfoundry and a number of others. It includes optional add-ons like presence, instant messaging, audio and video conferencing and Web advertising tools.

The latest release from Psytechnics is Experience Manager 5 with Service Desk, which upgrades previous Experience Manager releases from Psytechnics to include per-session QoE visibility. The Experience Manager itself is a tool for monitoring voice and video performance, offering realtime call analysis to detail actual user experience and provide troubleshooting, service level reporting and compliance feedback. The Service Desk Manager extends what Experience Manager can do to first line service/help desk by providing call quality information, generating health reports for all IP phones and gateways, and displaying supplemental information for selected calls, among other features.