Partnering with Microsoft on OCS 2007

New Jersey-based Quintum Technologies recently announced its achievement of Microsoft Certified Partner status, allowing the company to promise “seamless interoperability” with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 (OCS 2007).

To that end, Quintum now has an entire section of its Web site dedicated to the integration of its Tenor VoIP products with Microsoft’s unified communications offering. The Quintum solution will be made available to customers through VARs and system integrators.

Quintum is, of course, one of many competitors offering this type of solution—Network Equipment Technologies, Inc., which we recently profiled, is another, though it has not yet achieved Microsoft Certified Partner status.

Chuck Rutledge, Quintum’s vice president of marketing, says the company’s role as a Microsoft partner is to help extend Microsoft’s OCS 2007 functionality beyond the unified communications cloud and into the legacy world. “What that means is tying unified communications to the telephone network, integrating analog equipment that isn’t IP-based . . . things like fax machines or modem-based devices, elevator phones, all types of intercom equipment—all these things that you might want to integrate into your unified communications systems but aren’t unified-communications-based,” he says.

It’s a simple proposition, Rutledge says—no matter how much an organization might want to stand on the front lines of new technology, there’s always going to be equipment around that won’t be IP-based, and that equipment will need a way to hook into the unified communications cloud. “We will perform the connectivity of the legacy world with the unified communications world,” he says.

All of Quintum’s products, Rutledge says, will interface with Microsoft OCS 2007 through a mediation server. “We’re going to be coming out with a product called a hybrid gateway, which is essentially a server-based product that has the mediation server and our gateway technology integrated into it—it’s a single-box solution that contains both the mediation server and the gateway function,” he says.

Rutledge says Quintum will also work with a client to plan an appropriate migration path, starting with an implementation of unified communications at the client’s headquarters, then gradually upgrading branch offices over time. “That allows them to build out at the rate that makes sense for them, yet have a single communications system that integrates both the new communications system and the legacy communications system,” he says.

And that, Rutledge says, is likely to keep Quintum busy for a long, long time—not only in helping clients deal with legacy equipment, but also in helping those same clients coordinate connectivity with branch offices. Survivability, he notes, is a key focus for the company. “If I lose my IP connectivity back to that central server or that central server goes out, I don’t want to be losing the communications capabilities in all my branches,” he says. “So I need some form of local intelligence that’s able to keep those unified communications devices—or, in the IP PBX world, SIP devices—up and running. And that is a capability that we provide today.”

In addition to survivability, Rutledge says what makes Quintum stand out is the intelligence of the solution in other ways that make it much more than just a gateway. “We can provide things like fax bypass—if a fax is sent into the unified communications platform, we’ll bypass the unified communications platform and send that off to a fax machine,” he says. “Things like these are value adds beyond the traditional gateway function.”

Looking back, Rutledge says. getting certified with Microsoft came down to a relatively straightforward—albeit thorough—testing process. “They’ve built a fairly aggressive and innovative platform for unified communications, and we went through a process of doing interoperability testing with that platform,” he says. “As the platform evolved, we needed to evolve with it to ensure that, as it becomes available in early October, we’ll have a system that has been fully tested both in the lab and in the field.”

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