Zultys Refreshes IP PBX Software

Version 3.0 brings features to please IT managers, system integrators, and Internet telephony service providers.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Jun 20, 2006
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Yesterday was a big day for Zultys Technologies. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company (founded in October 2001) announced the release of software upgrades for its MX (Media Exchange) series of IP PBXs. The culmination of a year's development and testing effort, the new version—3.0—introduces a bevy of new and improved features, many of which are not available in competing products, according to the company.

First, while Zultys' MX30 and MX250 units both supported instant messaging in the past, the company got lots of feedback from customers and channel partners to the effect that they were leary of implementing IM to the outside. According to Zultys' vice president of marketing, Patrick Ferriter, "they're happy using our PC client while inside the business, but a lot of them felt uncomfortable with external IM clients." This resulted in some customers giving up control of external communications and taking their chances, and others electing to simply lock down external IM by blocking all ports on the firewall.

The solution, unique to MX version 3.0, is an IM bridge. It involves using a Jabber (open-source instant messaging) server, either inside or outside the network, as the only allowed IM connection through the firewall. IT managers can then limit external IM access to selected employees, and the system can archive all IM traffic for later review.

Archiving, as a matter of fact, is another of the big improvements in 3.0. In addition to archiving IM (as text), Ferriter told VoIPplanet "it archives call recordings, it archives fax, it archives voicemail, so really you've got everything. You're Mr. Big Brother now, compliant with all of the industry regulations."

Another big development is the build-out of the MX's automated attendant system. In the old system, you could quickly and easily set up basic voice applications—"press 1 for Sales," sort of thing. In the new, advanced system, which Ferriter describes as a "basic IVR," [interactive voice response], you can program it to create complex applications that can be applied to vertical business scenarios. "This is a really, really a strong feature for the channel," Ferriter said.

"If I'm a reseller and I sell into the banking market," he went on to explain, "I can, for example say, 'When a call comes in, collect the caller ID, ask them for their PIN, and ask them for their account number.' And now, for example, it could go out, grab that information, do a database lookup," he continued, "—find your balance, say. It can convert to TTS and speak back to the customer," Ferriter explained. "Then, if there was a problem, the customer could push a button and get transferred to an agent—with that call-attached data that goes along with it, that came from the database."

Moreover, according to Ferriter, VARs can customize this kind of application. Zultys helps out by supplying finished code in the scripting language of their partners' choice. "Once it's customized, they can go out to different customers and say, 'Okay here's what I can offer you,' and charge them for the customization. It's a pretty cool thing for the channel. Zultys will even provide training for VAR partners, and supply sample applications for a number of vertical industries.

In a related development, Zultys has improved support for Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs). "What we're seeing," Patrick Ferriter told VoIPplanet, "is that there's a number of features or options that these ITSPs have that would be great to have configurable. We've been working on a set of user interface settings for the administrators—for working with these service providers—so that they can simply set up the parameters that they need for each ITSP that they connect to on the fly, and not have to work on getting custom versions."

Along similar lines, the MX30 now supports fractional (10 channel) T1/E1 trunks, and is MF R2 certified for rural areas in Mexico and Brazil. These improvements will make the MX30 much more attractive to smaller companies and offices worldwide, and extend the system's market reach in Latin America.

A final feature add, which Ferriter pointed out is not unique to Zultys' MX platform, is e-mail synchronization with Microsoft Exchange for unified messaging. Fax and voice are built in to the MX platform. With the MX acting as an e-mail client, these functions could be attached to e-mails and forwarded—creating unified messaging regardless of the mail server used. With version 3.0, the 75 percent of SMBs that use Exchange will have synchronized unified messaging—meaning that when messages of any kind are deleted from users' Outlook clients, the MX platform deletes if from that system as well.

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