12 More Eye-Catching Products From VoiceCon Orlando

VoiceCon Orlando, the annual spring meeting of the most visible players in unified commuinications, collaboration and enterprise communication tools, will be renamed Enterprise Connect for its 2011 installment. The name change seems fitting: voice is but a part of the overall enterprise communications game these days, and a number of new product and service announcements at this year's conference said a lot about how these market segments have both evolved and diversified.

Last week, we suggested 25 Hot Products to See At VoiceCon. Here are another dozen that were announced from the show, well worth consideration for the UCC and service provider channels.

Microsoft's Gurdeep Singh Pall (left), corporate vice president of Microsoft's Office Communications Group, took the wraps off of Communications Server 14 and said it will usher in an era of "connected communications."

It uses an open platform to upgrade what customers already have for UC architecture, and provides full support for Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Exchange. Among new features are social networking-flavored functions such as location awareness tools that help users find out if colleagues are available, and a skill search feature that allows users to search for colleagues based on their expertise.

NEC's UC portfolio got a big boost this week with a range of updates, all announced at VoiceCon. The UCE Agent module (left), offers split view and agent screen pop functionality for contact center agents, and migration path visibility for CC Design users. Other new additions to the UCE (UC for Enterprise) suite include UCE Attendant Room Direct -- a patient and customer satisfaction link for health care and hospitality settings -- and new UCE Mobility features, including the ability for users to switch, one-touch, from desk phones to mobile devices and have access to presence-enabled directory, buddy lists and call history from Web-enabled mobile devices. Additional UCE editions from NEC include tiered pricing packages, virtualized server support and centralized management with a master installation DVD. Elsewhere, NEC added several features to UC for Business (UCB), including pre-packaged UC and contact center options and rich presence applications.

Tandberg used VoiceCon to launch several product additions. One was Callway, a subcription-based, hosted service for delivering high-def video and voice over IP for businesses with 10 or fewer video endpoints deployed. According to Tandberg, purchasing Callway -- which works with Tandberg units like the E20 IP video phone (pictured), the Profile 42-inch video system and the QuickSet C20 Plus "plug-and-play" desktop video set up -- is a little like purchasing a mobile phone subscription. Customers work with Tandberg VARs to select the most appropriate video gear and the VAR provides the service through a local phone number.

Intended for private offices and small meeting rooms, Polycom's latest IP phone includes Polycom HD Voice and Polycom Acoustic Clarity, offers SIP-based VoIP interoperability with a number of different Polycom-supported platforms. It sells for $599 and will be available in April, according to Polycom.

Physically, Alcatel-Lucent's new "Smart DeskPhone," the OmniTouch, has a 7-inch multi-touch display with a customizable interface, low power consumption, and integrated collaboration applications like instant message, presence and e-mail. The key, said Alcatel Lucent executives in a Channelweb.com briefing, is that the phone itself is an application pod that has its own API develop platform -- similar to what exists for many mobile device platforms, except on a desk phone with advanced UC capabilities. It'll become a centerpiece product of Alcatel-Lucent's Applications Partner Program (AAPP), which according to the company has more than 10,000 active developers.

Nortel's CVAS (Carrier VoIP and Application Solutions) unit, currently in the process of being acquired by Genband, is now offering a full-blown hosted IP migration platform that uses the CVAS CS 2000 softswitch and the Adaptive Application Server to help customers gain mobility, UC, hosted call centers and audio/video capabilities. According to Nortel, the hosted option also supports legacy Centrex and TDM equipment to make the migration to IP gradual, and can scale to hundreds of thousands of users and millions of calls per day according to enterprise needs.

Asentria makes remote network monitoring applications for the desktop, and SitePath, a unified administrative portal, manages Asentria's TeleBoss and SiteBoss remote site controllers as a server application. According to Asentria, SitePath includes centralized alarm management, single sign-on password control, VPN gateway control, and script support specific to devices. The SitePath Server itself is accessible via Web or client desktop application, with which IT administrators can assign policy and customize for remote site access. It also integrates with network management applications like HP OpenView and MicroMuse NetCool to forward alarms to central NOCs or enterprise management systems.

Designed for SMBs, V2's SBS-8100 consolidates multiple systems and networks, such as PBX, switch/router, videoconference and video surveillance, into a one integrated system for easier management. The UC Server architecture ties together voice (supporting up to 100 users, PBX or VoIP), data (exchange speed up to 3.2Gbps, wireless AP 802.11n capacity), video (VGA or better), and surveillance infrastructure, in part using what V2 calls a video QoS algorithm to help video and data applications be supported without traffic issues.

Avistar at VoiceCon launched six packaged editions of Avistar C3, the company's flagship UC platform. C3 Communicator - Standalone Edition includes a "buddy list" window on the communications interface to initiate and receive video calls, as well as a video session window. Standalone Pro Edition adds integrated SIP and firewall traversal server, and remote or home-based users don't need a VPN to conduct video calls. C3 Communicator - Business Edition includes multiparty desktop conferencing options using Avistar C3 Conference, and includes full transcoding and transrating. C3 Unified - Microsoft OCS edition is a bolt-on to Microsoft Office Communications Server, and C3 Unified - Microsoft OCS Pro edition adds integrated SIP and firewall traversal server, plus the no-VPN-needed feature for remote or home users. Finally is C3 Unified - Microsoft OCS Business, which offers the Business Edition features in a Microsoft OCS environment.

RedSky makes E911 compliance products, and its latest, RedBox, is designed for small and medium-sized businesses. It officially debuted in the fall, and is a Linux-based appliance that integrates with existing Avaya, Nortel or Cisco PBX/call servers to track phones on the network and update ALI databases to provide information to emergency dispatchers at public safety answering points all over the country. RedBox also routes 9-1-1 calls to any available PSAP using RedSky E911 Anywhere Network Services, and supports up to 1,000 phones from a single PBX/call server.

According to ActionPacked!, the latest version of its LiveAction Management software is a special edition providing fully interactive Cisco QoS monitoring with end-to-end visualizations of network traffic flows. The company's been earning plaudits left and right for the ease of building its interfaces and showing said traffic flow in a customizable presentation. LiveAction itself is a two-minute software install on PCs, and offers a wide range of templates, wizards and user operations that according to ActionPacked! correspond directly to Cisco best practices. The version ActionPacked! was showing at VoiceCon had tools tailored specifically to VoIP, UC and videoconferencing.

Verizon has been experimenting with service platforms to enable smoother, richer service of video and presence, and its new Immersive Video Conferencing Service for Cisco TelePresence (pictured), is a managed offering designed to do just that for Cisco's high-end video portfolio. According to Verizon, TelePresence meetings are supported using two Verizon Business Exchanges, which run on Verizon's Private IP Network and, if one exchange is interrupted, automatically transfers the video connection to the other. Ease-of-use is the key, according to Verizon, which has configured the platform so many of the functions -- and the recovery during service interruption -- are one-touch activated.