Vendor Network Architectures�Part XLVIII: Allworx
Allworx, the product division of InSciTek Microsystems, Inc., has a story that would likely resonate with many startup companies. Its history goes back to 1998, when a group of talented engineers embarked on a product development consulting business and then began gathering the various support systems that would be required to keep their business running at top performance. Before long, they had plenty of clients and a talented staff, but they lacked the voice- and data-communications systems that would keep everyone connected. So they embarked on a product search, and ended up with threea phone system, a network, and some group softwarein addition to having to negotiate with both the phone company and an Internet provider for network connections. After the frustrations of system installations and configurations settled down, they concluded that their experience was much more difficult than it should have been, providing the inspiration for a new product line called Allworxthe all-in-one communications system for telephones, PC network, and team productivity.
The Allworx product line includes three models, the 6X, 10X, and 24X, which share three common architectural elements: a telephone system that is VoIP capable, a network system that combines multiple data communication functions, and advanced applications for group productivity. The telephone system includes PBX features that would typically be found on a more expensive system, including: customizable automated attendants, call detail logging, support for multiple sites and remote users; call routing when out of the office, an eight-seat conference bridge, least-cost routing to either PSTN or VoIP carriers, support for inbound/outbound fax calls, voicemail, and support for both analog and IP telephones. The network system includes: an automated backup system that covers the shared files, contacts, messaging system and system files; an e-mail server; a firewall that employs the Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) technique; a LAN network server; WAN/Internet access, including DSL, cable modem, dial-up, or T-1 connection options; plus Internet hosting, supporting both the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and the File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
Optional advanced applications, sold separately, are designed to meet specific office productivity requirements. The Call Assistant allows operators or receptionists to monitor the state of every line in the system, and to dispatch calls by answering, transferring, parking or sending them to voicemail. The Call Queuing package allows incoming calls to be distributed across multiple queues, such as sales, technical support, and so on, with individual phones having the ability to answer multiple queues. The Internet Call Access option allows calls to be placed via the Internet through an Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP). The Virtual Private Network (VPN) software allows users to gain access to the firewall-protected side of the company's network from remote locations. The Calendaring package enables users to view co-workers' schedules and to automatically be reminded of upcoming meetings and project schedules.
The three Allworx models are distinguished by the number of trunks and end users that they support. The entry-level Allworx 6X system is designed for companies with up to 30 users with voicemail boxes, plus an additional 30 extensions for common areas such as conference rooms, and up to 30 incoming central office lines. For VoIP services, the system is compatible with the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). The Allworx 10X system is designed to support up to 100 users in any combination of analog and IP telephones, plus an additional 100 extensions for common areas and as many as 33 incoming central office lines. This system is also compatible with SIP, and can support site-to-site communication via the Internet without ITSP connections. The high-end Allworx 24X is designed to support up to 100 users in any combination of analog and IP telephones, plus an additional 100 extensions for common areas. This system provides for a number of incoming central office lines, including T-1 and ISDN types, with support for a number of central office switches (5ESS, DMS-100, and others). This system also supports SIP, and has the same capabilities of the smaller units, such as conference bridges, multi-site support, ITSP support, and so on. In addition to the "all-in-one" configuration, the Allworx features can be delivered at a cost of less than $500 per user.
Further details on the Allworx architecture and products can be found at www.allworx.com. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' architectures.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2006 DigiNet ® Corporation, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet ® Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.