Vendor Network Architectures�Part XXXV: Inter-Tel

Inter-Tel, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, was founded in 1969, and has since grown to a firm with over 50 company-owned direct sales offices, plus over 350 authorized providers in North America, Europe, Japan, and South America. The company has been listed among the 100 Fastest Growing Technology Companies for the past several years, focusing on applications and value-added solutions, including converged communications systems and network services. Perhaps unique among their competition is the fact that Inter-Tel represents a number of Tier 1 regional and national telecommunications carriers, which gives them the ability to craft a complete business solution for their customers, including ATM, DSL, ISDN, Frame Relay, and T-1 services, plus audio, video and web conferencing, data storage, directory integration, hosted e-mail, Internet access, and remote management applications.

The Inter-Tel converged network hardware solutions are designed to scale from 10 to 10,000+ users, with architectures that can accommodate stand-alone business locations, companies that have multiple locations in the same city, or enterprises with geographically dispersed locations and employees. These solutions have been packaged for a number of vertical markets, including automotive, education, financial services, health care, insurance, manufacturing, and real estate applications—plus local, state, and federal government agencies.

Inter-Tel manufactures four IP-based switching systems: the Inter-Tel EncoreCX that is oriented for the Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) customer, the Inter-Tel 5000 for small and medium business, the Inter-Tel Axxess for small and medium business or medium and large enterprises, and the recently-announced Inter-Tel 7000 Multimedia communications system.

The Inter-Tel 5000 line was introduced in 2005, and is oriented towards small and medium businesses that are seeking Internet Protocol (IP)-based solutions for business communications needs. The Inter-Tel 5000 product line, which includes several different models, can support both single and multi-location enterprises, with up to 250 users per server. It features Open Architecture Interfaces, which support many existing industry standards, including the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), Power over Ethernet (PoE), IEEE 802.11b, and others. One of the interesting features of the Inter-Tel 5000 line is that it uses Compact Flash technology in its call processing units, thus improving system reliability by eliminating spinning discs or other moving parts in the core system. The product also features a WAN failover system, designed to ensure that no service disruption occurs if a WAN link fails.

The Inter-Tel Axxess is a converged platform that combines analog, digital, wireless, and VoIP technologies within a single system, thus allowing customers to select from the most optimum suite of carrier, endpoint, and application solutions, whether that is traditional analog, full IP, or some combination of the two. The system is a universal-slot, carded system, with a wide variety of station and trunk interfaces that can be installed, including: central processing units, call processing units, ATM switching, digital stations and analog keysets, plus loop start, ground start, T-1/E-1, and ISDN BRI/PRI trunks.

Inter-Tel has introduced the Inter-Tel 7000 as their latest communication platform targeting the medium to large business market. This IP-centric system is a highly scalable communication solution based upon the SIP protocol and running on Intel-based Linux servers. The system scales from a small simplex solution to a highly redundant server architecture to meet the requirements of larger enterprises and networks. The system was designed around the latest VoIP standards, and provides integrated call control, media processing, and call center applications, plus the ability to integrate with external applications as well. It currently supports up to 2,500 IP endpoints, with support for older analog handsets via a gateway.

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

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2005 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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