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Siemens updates presence, collaboration suite

Jul 12, 20043 mins
Collaboration SoftwareNetworkingSmall and Medium Business

OpenScape 2.0 promises more scale, new features for connecting employees.

Siemens this week is expected to upgrade its OpenScape presence management and collaboration software to quadruple the number of users who can be supported and make it easier to combine IP- and non-IP-based phones and devices.

The presence management features could make it easier for workers to contact each other via e-mail, instant message, teleconferencing and online collaboration portals, Siemens says. The company adds that the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based offering can integrate with its IP telephony products, and other standards-based VoIP and TDM gear.

OpenScape is a Windows 2003 server software package that works with Microsoft Live Communication Server (LCS), a SIP-based application server for setting up IP-based voice, video or chat sessions with SIP endpoints. OpenScape lets users connect a Microsoft LCS box with telephony equipment, such as Siemens PBXs, IP PBXs or third-party telephony products. This support lets users with SIP-based phones or PC clients – running OpenScape portal software – connect with conferencing, presence and other applications, using LCS as the underlying communications middleware.

The new version, 2.0, sustains more end users, supporting up to 2,000 on an OpenScape server. OpenScape 1.0 supported up to 500 users. With Version 2.0 multiple OpenScape servers also can be networked as one system with one management directory, which theoretically could let a company have more than 10,000 employees on the system. Siemens says it hasn’t tested the software at such a scale.

Star IT, an integration firm that installs collaboration software from Microsoft and Siemens, is testing a beta version of OpenScape 2.0. The Medfield, Mass., company has used OpenScape for about a year, alongside a Cisco CallManager IP PBX, to connect 100 employees with presence and conferencing applications. The company uses a SIP gateway to connect Cisco 7960 IP phones to the OpenScape servers. This allows the phones to be included in the OpenScape presence directory and in the Cisco CallManager directory.

Hosting customer and partner teleconferences in-house via OpenScape has helped cut costs, says George Rodgers, president and CEO of Star IT. The company paid as much as $30,000 per month for Web and teleconference services from WebEx and AT&T previously, but Rodgers says that has been cut 45% over the last nine months because of OpenScale 1.0’s efficiencies.

Among the new features in Version 2.0 is the ability to include non-SIP-based endpoints in the presence management and conferencing platform. Cell phones, BlackBerrys as well as IP phones and PBX phones from third-party vendors now can be listed in an OpenScape directory, Siemens says, which lets users see availability across multiple devices.

Another feature lets a user with a cell phone or voice-enabled BlackBerry or PDA dial into an OpenScape-attached company phone switch and gain access to OpenScape applications through voice recognition. This lets users set up conferences, check voice and Microsoft Outlook-based e-mail, and locate colleagues through voice commands.

Also in Version 2.0 are developer’s tools, including open Speech Application Language Tags and voice XML APIs, which can be used to integrate OpenScape voice portals with other applications – such as CRM software or other Web-based applications.

OpenScape 2.0 is scheduled to be available next month starting at $125 per user for the core package – including presence, collaboration and conferencing. An additional $100-per-user license key upgrade adds voice-enablement to the system.