Siemens launches a new unified communications server

Matt Hamblen, Computerworld (US online)
13 Mar 2008

Siemens Communications Inc. announced a software-only server Monday for unified communications that includes a new video component for desktop videoconferencing.

The OpenScape Unified Communications Server will integrate into any IT or voice switching environment from Siemens or any other vendor, said Mark Straton, senior vice president of enterprise marketing.

The initial version of the server includes voice and IP least-cost routing software based on a new, 3.1 version of its HiPath 8000 voice product and a new, 3.0 version of its OpenScape Unified Communications application, Straton said.

The OpenScape UC package alone will start at US$14,850 for 100 licenses, while the voice package will sell for $33,750 for 100 licenses. The combination of the two will cost $39,150 for 100 licenses. The products will be available next month.

The videoconferencing package, available at the end of April, starts at $8,999 for a high-definition point-to-point executive desktop system.

Straton said unified communications technology has been sold for years but has not gained much traction because it is seen by buyers as complex, expensive and requiring proprietary technology. Siemens' new approach will work in any setting and is highly scalable and affordable, he said.

Donna Warner, vice president of Black Box Network Services in Lawrence, Pa., said the new server will allow more flexibility for business customers. Black Box is Siemens' largest channel partner in North America.

'Customers aren't being forced into either a proprietary hardware solution or to interface with a limited number of operations systems providers and can move as slowly or quickly as they are comfortable into a full unified-communications environment,' Warner said. For example, a customer could choose only messaging or voice or video at one moment, she said.

Customers can also decide whether to move to a Microsoft-based system, Warner said. Because the new server is software-based, the hardware is not dictated by Siemens, she added.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Research Inc., said the software approach allows for simpler integration, but he argued that Siemens is lacking a strong developer community to take advantage of its software strategy. Part of the problem is that Siemens is large in Europe but much smaller than players such as Nortel Networks Ltd. and Cisco Systems Inc. in North America, he added.

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