3Com will use the Internet Telephony Expo this week in Los Angeles to launch applications for hardening business VoIP networks and expanding user capabilities, while Toshiba will unveil gear to make employees more productive with converged applications.3Com\u00a0will use the Internet Telephony Expo this week in Los Angeles to launch applications for hardening business VoIP networks and expanding user capabilities, while Toshiba will unveil gear to make employees more productive with converged applications.From 3Com comes an upgrade to its VCX enterprise IP PBX platform, which adds remote-site failover and survivability features in case of network or IP PBX equipment failure, the vendor says. Also, 3Com says its new bundle of convergence applications based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), including unified messaging, presence and multimedia conferencing, can help individual employees work more efficiently.3Com is launching Version 5.0 of its SIP-based VCX call control software, which runs on its VCX 7000 IP PBX hardware platform. The new software now runs on the Linux operating system and Sun's Solaris, which gives users the option of using an Intel-based server as an IP PBX, in addition to Sun's proprietary server platform.VCX 5.0 also includes a feature called Voice Boundary Routing, which lets IP phones distributed across a WAN switch over to a back-up VCX in case of a primary call server failure. When deployed with VCX 3000 gateways in a branch office, Voice Boundary Routing also lets IP phones in that office make calls through the local public switched telephone network in case the primary WAN link fails.3Com says Voice Boundary Routing is better than competitive technologies such as Cisco's Survivable Remote Site Telephony, because other VoIP survivability technologies only provide basic local call features to phones when a WAN link goes down. Voice Boundary Routing lets local gateways provide all VCX call features, a local-branch version of voice mail and other applications.3Com also is introducing its Convergence Application Suite, which includes software modules that allow for SIP-based messaging, presence and conferencing applications for VCX 7000 systems that run the 5.0 software.Features such as IP voice or videoconferencing with document sharing, presence management and instant messaging are accessed through 3Com's new Convergence Center client, which runs on Windows, Macintosh or Linux-based desktops. The client lets users see other employees who are online through a presence directory view. It also includes click-to-dial and drag-and-drop call transfer features.VCX 5.0 was beta-tested at the city of Waukesha, Wis., which used Version 3.1 of VCX to run its voice mail system. The city is migrating from a Centrex telephone system to a VCX-based VoIP network that will support more than 500 users and will be managed in-house."This system is much easier to work with" in terms of making adds, moves and changes, says Greg Vanness, an IT technician with the city. He says the VCX management interface lets him add or change extension numbers and voice mailboxes in minutes, as opposed to calling the city's Centrex provider and asking for the changes.Vanness says the city has no current plans to deploy any of the new VCX applications and features announced this week.The new 3Com VCX 5.0 and conferencing applications range from $70 to $200 per user. A VCX 7000 with the 5.0 software costs about $500 per line, not including IP phone costs. All the 3Com products are available now.While 3Com goes after large businesses, Toshiba is targeting shops with fewer than 200 users with its latest Strata CIX offering. The box is a dual-processor IP PBX that can handle SIP- and Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP)-based IP endpoints, and legacy digital phones that worked with Toshiba's old key telephone systems.Along with this new platform, Toshiba also is introducing its Strata Media Application Server (MAS). This Windows-based server supports the vendor's new FeatureFlex applications, which include SIP-based presence management and conferencing, and call routing and screening features.Toshiba makes a line of IP phones that use the MGCP VoIP protocol and support the full set of features and functions on the Strata CIX. Third-party SIP phones will work with the Strata CIX, but more advanced features such as presence and caller ID are not supported. All features are supported on Toshiba digital handsets attached to a Strata CIX.Toshiba also is introducing a softphone client that works with the Strata CIX and runs Strata MAS applications.The Toshiba Strata CIX costs about $500 per line not including phones. Pricing was not available for the Strata MAS and FeatureFlex applications. The new Toshiba products are expected to be available in the first quarter of 2005.