Borrowing technology from its carrier softswitches, Siemens has developed an enterprise network-level IP PBX it says companies can use to consolidate telephony setups based on distributed regional and branch office systems.Borrowing technology from its carrier\u00a0softswitches,\u00a0Siemens\u00a0has developed an enterprise network-level IP PBX it says companies can use to consolidate telephony setups based on distributed regional and branch office systems.The\u00a0HiPath 8000, initially shown last month at the CeBit show in Germany, is being readied for its U.S. debut over the next two months, although Siemens declined to confirm when the box will ship or how much it will cost."Siemens initially developed the product as the Surpass HiQ 8000 softswitch, but has re-engineered it to meet the needs of distributed enterprises," Gartner analyst Steven Blood says in a report.According to reports, part of this reengineering involved adding support for Siemens' ComScendo enterprise IP telephony feature set, along with the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) - an emerging standard for real-time IP voice and video communications that has gained wide industry support. Support for both ComScendo and SIP will let the HiPath 8000 work with Siemens OptiPoint IP phones and third-party devices and applications based on SIP.According to reports and Siemens marketing material, the HiPath 8000 is an all-IP telephony platform that can scale from 10,000 to 100,000 users. The previous high number of users supported was 12,000 by the HiPath 4000, which debuted in December.The HiPath 8000 will compete with systems such as 3Com's VCX, Avaya's S8700, Cisco's CallManager and Nortel's Succession M series, and softswitches from BroadSoft and Sonus Networks.Scaling Hi-erSiemens\u2019 HiPath 8000 is an IP PBX for large companies that incorporates carrier softswitch technology. Features include:\u2022Support for SIP and Siemens\u2019 proprietary VoIP protocols.\u2022Support for more than 10,000 IP endpoints.\u2022A Unix-based operating system that runs on standard server hardware.The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is deploying a HiPath 4000 to replace an aging Rolm PBX infrastructure. While Telecom Manager Elwyn Hull has no plans to upgrade to a HiPath 8000, he says the concept of a carrier-grade IP PBX is intriguing."Currently, the HiPath 4000 is meeting our scaling needs," he says. "Although I would certainly be interested in seeing Siemens incorporate some of its carrier-type capabilities [into its enterprise products]."Hull says he expects to see Siemens inject some of its carrier voice technology into its lower-end IP PBX products.Gartner's Blood says the HiPath 4000 and 8000 should be the two Siemens products large companies evaluate for an IP PBX deployment. With the latest version of the 4000 supporting up to 12,000 users, "continued investment in [the] HiPath 4000 systems remains a solid option," he writes.