Vendor Network Architectures�Part XXXVI: Pingtel
This company employs an open-source, software-only approach in providing for the telephony needs of SMBs.
Pingtel Corporation, headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts, is perhaps unique among the VoIP developer community, in that its focus is on software-only-based IP switching products that combine the best attributes of open-source developmentlow cost, adaptability, and flexibilitywith the reliable solutions and support enterprises require for voice applications.
Pingtel's SIPxchange Enterprise Communication Server (ECS) is a software-only PBX than runs on Red Hat Linux servers, and is touted by Pingtel as the first enterprise-grade IP PBX available in open source. It is designed as a low-cost IP PBX solution that can be deployed for headquarters, branch office, home office, or call center applications. It will also interoperate with legacy TDM PBXs, enabling network managers to phase in a VoIP implementation, thus avoiding the "flash cutover" phenomenon that has given rise to a new meaning for the term CIO: Career Is Over.
The SIPexchange ECS is based upon the open source sipXpbx project from the SIPfoundry, a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization dedicated to the development and adoption of open source Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based communications solutions. The ECS supports a number of SIP standards, including: Request for Comments (RFC) documents 3261 (the SIP baseline document), 3515, 3891, and 3892 (advance call control), 3263 (server locating), 3265 (event notification), 3842 (voice mail message waiting indication), and others.
In addition to supporting standard PBX features, the ECS includes integrated Voice Mail; an Automatic Call Director (ACD), which automatically distributes calls to multiple users or queues through the use of intelligent routing; Unified Messaging, which allows voicemail messages to be retrieved by a web browser or forwarded to any email client; Multiple Automatic Attendants, which can be easily configured via a browser interface; plus a web-based system configuration and management tool, which allows for the centralized control and management of dialplans, users, and other endpoints.
The ECS product is available in six different models, ranging from the Model 35, which supports up to 35 users, the Model 500 which supports up to 500 users, up to the Model 1000, which supports as many as 1,000 users (duh!).
Pingtel has also developed two other products that complement the Enterprise Communication Server.
The Pingtel SIPexchange CallManager is a server-based, integrated central call routing engine that also provides directory services across an enterprise VoIP network. Like the Enterprise Communication Server product, the Call Manager is based entirely upon SIP, and runs on Red Hat Linux servers. The engine provides a flexible method for routing calls between offices, providing long distance cost savings by eliminating toll charges between offices and the need for PBX tie lines. It converts traditional voice calls between headquarters, branch offices, and home offices into compressed data packets, and carries these calls over the private IP network or the public Internet. Three models of the product are available, ranging in capacity from 18,000 to 54,000 Busy Hour Call Completions (BHCC).
The Pingtel SIP Softphone is an open-source, client-based softphone for Microsoft Windows-based desktop and laptop computers. One of the biggest advantages of this integrated architecture is that it allows mobile workers and telecommuters to carry their office phone, and all of its features, applications and directories on their laptops, so that their "office" can follow them wherever they happen to be. Another key application is the support of employees that regularly use their computer and telephone at the same time, and would benefit from the integration of these two functions for customer relationship management (CRM), sales force automation or other computer telephony integration applications. The Softphone includes over 30 telephony features, such as call forwarding, caller ID, call hold, message waiting indication, and speed dialing. It supports the G.729A, G.711 A-law, and G.711 Mu-law audio encoding standards.
Further details on the Pingtel architecture and products can be found at www.pingtel.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.