CallTower, Inc., headquartered in Henderson, Nevada, has perhaps coined a new term, as they style themselves a Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) provider.
This company offers businesses an enterprise-class, feature-rich, comprehensive communications solution based on an end-to-end Cisco Systems- and Microsoft-based unified communications platform.
CallTower’s objective is to bridge the divide between a company’s voice and data infrastructure, and then convert those systems into a unified platform that powers communications for the business. The company claims that its unified communications service allows an organization to gain the functionality of advanced communications features in a reliable, stable, and scalable environment, without the complexity and costs of buying and implementing on it their own.
CallTower is an established private company founded in 2002, currently with 75 employees, and has been solely focused on providing outsourced communication service to businesses since its inception.
The CallTower solution integrates a customer’s telephone, Outlook-based e-mail, voice-mail, fax services, Internet access, and handheld devices, into a comprehensive service relationship. The system is designed to integrate communications, applications, and devices—as well as making it easier to find people, launch calls, and retrieve messages.
The service is available in the lower 48 states, and is targeted at companies with 50 to 1,000 employees. The system supports Cisco IP phones and has a typical installation time of 45 days.
The CallTower Communications Service includes a wide range of features and services, including: telephone and voicemail; unified messaging with a single inbox for voice, fax, and e-mail; presence management with secure, integrated chat; collaboration—with Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint, LiveMeeting, and audio conferencing; mobility with BlackBerry, Activesync, softphones, and find me/follow me; integrated Web and audio conferencing; managed network services; plus integrated Web-based user and administrator portals.
The User Portal provides individual configuration settings, access to the corporate directory, Outlook, plus administrative, download, and training tools (see Figure 1). The Administrative Portal includes a user list, with locations, contacts, properties, groups, and so on (see Figure 2).
This unified communications platform is based on six different functional components:
Telephony includes a fully managed IP PBX, desktop phones, softphones, and support for a fully active handheld environment on either RIM BlackBerry devices, Windows Mobile devices, and a broad range of other smartphones via Motorola’s Good Messaging Server.
Messaging integrates voice, e-mail, and chat into a single interface that is designed to be easy to access and manage—including standard voicemail functions, voicemails that can be presented as attachments to e-mails, typed e-mail responses that can be transformed into voice messages, and instant messages that can be stored, categorized, and searched at a later time.
Conferencing supports ad hoc conferencing that can connect up to four additional participants with two key strokes, a meet-me conference bridge that can accommodate up to 20 participants, plus web conferencing with the Microsoft Office LiveMeeting application.
Presence—which is based on Microsoft Office Communications Server—allows instant visibility into who is available in the corporate network.
Collaboration provides BlackBerry and Windows Mobile users alternative e-mail, voice, and data options—as well as supporting devices based on the Palm operating system.
Finally, the network integrates communications applications and devices through a common Web interface to facilitate finding people, launching calls, conducting conferences, and retrieving messages.
CallTower’s Communications Service also includes all upgrades, patches, maintenance, secure backup, and 24/7/365 monitoring of all hardware and software. The service is delivered from two geographically diverse data centers, each of which can provide all core services to clients in the event of a disaster. The monthly cost per user ranges from $50 to $200, depending on their utilization of hosted Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint, Blackberry, and other services.
Further information on the CallTower solutions can be found at http://calltower.com/. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 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.