Vendor Network Architectures�Part XXXIV: Mitel

Headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, Mitel Networks Corporation has been a leading vendor of business telephony systems for over 25 years and has shipped over 230,000 systems supporting the voice-centric communications needs of over 20 million users in more than 90 countries. Terry Matthews, the company’s Chairman, co-founded Mitel in 1972 and led the company through explosive growth as it tapped into the new market for digital corporate telephone systems before selling it to British Telecom in 1985. After selling his next venture (Newbridge Networks) to Alcatel for $7.1 billion, Matthews bought back Mitel in 2001 with the determination to transform the company into a software-driven firm focused on IP communications solutions for corporate telephone systems. Today, 95 percent of the corporate communications systems it sells are based on new IP technology, with IP-centric sales representing 86 percent of the company’s revenue.

These significant investments in the development of new IP-based communications solutions have resulted in a Mitel IP communications portfolio that is among the broadest and most sophisticated in the industry today. These include: horizontal applications for contact centers, mobility, teleworking, speech-enabled unified communications, messaging, collaboration, presence, video conferencing, and wireless communications—as well as Mitel’s portfolio of call processing solutions and intuitive desktop devices for enterprises and organizations ranging from large multi-nationals to small businesses.

The Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP) is the cornerstone of their IP-based communications product portfolio. It is a converged communications platform that supports a suite of advanced call-processing and related applications and IP-enabled desktop devices. The call processing software supports over 500 networking and end user features and is available in up to 10 languages. The ICP has the flexibility to operate as either a single-site, distributed, or hosted solution, and it interoperates with the customer’s underlying data or legacy voice communications infrastructure. The system is scalable to serve the needs of users in small and medium businesses, with as few as 10 users, and large enterprises, with as many as 65,000 users.

The ICP can be used either for providing call processing features and functions or, as an applications and services gateway (ASG), for the delivery of advanced applications. It can be deployed in any of the following four configurations:

  • Integrated—Provides call processing, media gateway, and application and services gateway functionality.
  • Call Processing Server—Provides centralized or distributed call processing for traditional and IP endpoints and applications.
  • Survivable Media Gateway—Provides media gateway functionality for any combination of analog phones, analog trunks, digital phones, digital trunks, and SIP trunks.
  • Application and Services Gateway—Provides application and gateway services including messaging, wireless mobility, and teleworking.

For small and medium sized business the ICP can be deployed as an integrated business communication system. Call processing, media gateways, and application and services-gateway functionality are all configured and deployed in a single server. For larger enterprises and customers with multiple sites or branch offices, the ICP is deployed using a combination of servers configured as call processing servers, survivable media gateways, and application and services gateways, depending on the customer requirements. Hundreds of servers can be placed in the network to provide services in the most efficient way possible and are all managed from a central point of administration ensuring that that operating costs are optimized.

For these branch office topologies, an ICP can be implemented at each location; the users at the remote site can receive a hosted service from an ICP situated elsewhere in the network; or a combination of both options can be deployed. Those customers using a hosted model have access to the same software applications and services as those situated at the office where the ICP physically resides. The system can also be implemented as a survivable gateway at a branch office such that if the network to the office from which they are being hosted becomes unavailable, then the local ICP will provide the same telephony services seamlessly until the network connection is restored. Thus, the features, software applications, and services normally only available at larger corporate offices can be distributed to any part of the network, addressing the communications challenges facing organizations with decentralized operations and personnel.

Further details on the Mitel architecture and products can be found at Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors’ architectures.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2006 DigiNet ® Corporation, All Rights Reserved

Author’s Biography
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.

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