Siemens launches software-only unified communications platform

Siemens is introducing a unified communications server that will reshape the company's product line so its communications applications will run using a common UC server rather than each application having its own dedicated hardware/software platform.

Called OpenScape Unified Communications Server, the server acts as the foundation for a set of communications applications including voice, unified communications and video and represents Siemens' first step toward its announced intent to decouple communications functions from monolithic hardware platforms.

For example, the capabilities of the Siemens HiPath 8000 voice platform are available via OpenScape UC Server plus the addition of OpenScape Voice.The server adds a multimedia communications engine to Siemens' portfolio, a feature that until now the company relied on Microsoft to supply via its Office Communications Server. The server is compatible with Microsoft OCS as well as IBM's Sametime and will also compete with both. (Compare unified communication products.)

The server supports presence, service administration and session control that can be shared among the applications that run on top of it.

OpenScape UCS can run in conjunction with existing voice systems and add other communications applications -- instant messaging, video, contact center -- to a business network. So a customer could buy into OpenScape without ripping out their existing voice infrastructure. They would still have the option later to add OpenScape Voice when it comes time to replace a legacy voice system, the company says.

The new server interoperates with existing corporate directories and policies. Within the server a Session Initiation Protocol  controller supports presence information as well as session detail records.

Siemens is bundling OpenScape Server in three packages, for less than 1,000 users, for as many as 100,000 voice users and an edition designed for providers that host communications services.

Initially, three supplemental applications are available for OpenScape UC Server: voice, video and unified communications. OpenScape Voice Application includes support for IP voice, least cost routing, user management and QoS for multimedia traffic.

OpenScape Video Application includes a desktop client, high definition capabilities as well as the necessary hardware to conduct videoconferences.

Furture applications that will run with OpenScape UC Server are messaging, mobility and contact center, the company says.

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