Toshiba launches all-in-one IP communications for SMBs

By Ted Stevenson | Aug 26, 2011 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/Toshiba-launches-all-in-one-IP-communications-for-SMBs-3939066.htm

For most of the six-plus years that this site has been in existence, the flagship of Toshiba America Information Systems (TAIS) business communications product line has been the Strata CIX, a hybrid system that supports both IP and digital TDM endpoints.

Earlier this summer, the company announced IPedge, an entirely new communications server family that supports IP endpoints exclusively, uses SIP signaling, and terminates SIP trunks directly without the need for additional gateways.

The "pure" IPedge family, as announced in June 2011 consisted of two models designed to serve customers with different size workforces: the EM, which supports a maximum of 1,000 seats and the EC, which supports a maximum of 200.

This week TAIS announced the launch of the IPedge EP, a communications server that supports a maximum of 40 seats—and that completes the original product line concept.

IPedge units can be freely mixed and matched with one another—and with Strata CIX systems—in multi-location or other large deployments.

The entire IPedge line comes with an impressive amount of communications functionality pre-installed—including some extra-cost options that can be activated with additional license keys.

Still, the basic feature set is broad, including basic IP PBX functionality, the Enterprise Manager, a centralized administration suite, Call Manager, which provides PC-based call management, presence, IM, and CRM integration with SalesForce.com, Act, and Microsoft Outlook.

Also included are unified messaging and local on-site mobility via the enterprise Wi-Fi network (for Toshiba's Wi-Fi phones and/or other mobile devices running the Toshiba SoftIPT softphone).

The optional wide-area mobility or "fixed/mobile convergence," via the uMobility application from partner company Varaha, lets your smartphone function as an extension of the PBX, allowing you to stay in touch while on the go.

The IPedge Meeting application is another option. It provides dial-in audio conferencing and Web collaboration, embracing Outlook calendar integration, desktop sharing, and conference recording.

Toshiba's automatic call distribution (ACD), available as an option (that runs on a different server), with or without the rest of the Toshiba Contact Center Suite, routes incoming calls to the appropriate agent or staff person, based on skills or other criteria, provides queuing, and other contact center features.

The feature known as survivability—the ability of the system to continue to receive and place calls despite the failure of the PBX—is built into the IPedge family, in a sense. That is, in a network in which two or more IPedge boxes are deployed, each can serve as backup for the other or others. Calls are simply re-routed through a fully functioning PBX.

With the IPedge EP, however, deployed by itself in the network of a smaller company, which would likely be a pretty common scenario, that inherent survivability would be absent.

There is a work-around though, according to product marketing manager Jon Nelson: local redundancy or deploying two IPedge EP units on the same network. This would certainly drive up the cost of deployment, but doubtless for some companies the extra cost would be justified.

As with the other IPedge models, licensing is for the actual number of seats used, not for the full capacity of the system.

All three IPedge models are available now through the authorized Toshiba dealer network, nationwide.