This week, eDial announced Advanced Communications Server 5.0, a platform that allows service providers, large enterprises and others to deploy collaborative applications on top of their telephone or data infrastructures.ACS is designed to allow a service provider to offer instant messaging (IM) services, Web conferencing, audio conferencing and presence-based services. EDial is positioning ACS as a way for service providers to offer these value-added services quickly and easily.ACS, which supports Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), combines a media server and an application server into a single platform. It operates on a Linux-based Intel server and is intended to be highly scalable. Applications built on top of ACS can run on Internet Explorer and other browsers, allowing these applications to run in Windows, Macintosh, Unix and Linux environments. ACS also supports real-time logging of IM traffic for compliance with archiving statutes.The advantage of SIP-based platforms like ACS is that they allow the true convergence of current telephone and data communications infrastructures. By the end of 2004, a large percentage of the telephone handsets sold into the enterprise market will be SIP-enabled, meaning a convergence tool could be used to provide integration of a telephone system with a presence infrastructure. For example, using an IM client, additional information about a user can be made available, such as whether or not that user is on the telephone. Other advantages of this convergence are the low-cost provision of additional services through a local telephone or cable Internet provider for users of various types without having to implement expensive systems to provide these services.ACS represents part of a growing trend to provide integrated communications inexpensively for both enterprises and smaller users.