Siemens Plugs Into Software With Open Unified Communications

Continuing its departure from a largely hardware-focused history, Siemens Communications on Monday announced a new software-only unified communications server.

The OpenScape Unified Communications (UC) Server can operate in virtually any existing IT or telephony environment, Siemens said, and is designed to remove the barriers that have traditionally separated voice, video and unified communications systems.

Instead, the server will enable a comprehensive suite of UC applications that initially will include voice, role-based UC and a new video application.

“With the introduction of OpenScape Unified Communications Server, we have reached a significant milestone in our transition from a traditional VoIP manufacturer to a top global software and services company focused on a new era in the enterprise communications market,” said Eve Aretakis, CEO of Siemens Communications.

Leveraging OpenSOA

The OpenScape UC Server software is the foundation for Siemens’ new unified communications suite and will be available starting at the end of April. It enables presence, administration, session control and other shared services for the current and planned family of OpenScape UC suite of applications.

The OpenScape UC Server was built from the ground up as an open, SIP (session initiation protocol)-based, software IT communications and UC application foundation, Siemens said, with shared Web services components that leverage the company’s OpenSOA architecture.

It will be available in three versions, including the single-server Medium Edition (ME) for up to 1,000 users, the multiserver Large Edition (LE) for up to 100,000 users and a Hosted Edition (HE) with additional application components for service providers and hosting organizations.

Native Redesigns

The existing HiPath 8000 and HiPath OpenExchange applications, which make up OpenScape Voice, have been redesigned to run natively on the OpenScape UC Server for enterprise voice and IP least cost routing, the company said.

A new, redesigned version of Siemens’ OpenScape UC Application, V3, is also one of the licensable offerings for the Siemens OpenScape UC Server, it added, with modular, role-based packaging and scalability to as many as 20,000 concurrent users.

OpenScape Video, meanwhile, is the industry’s first single-vendor, unified video conferencing solution integrating high-definition video, desktop PC video, voice and presence into a single powerful communication environment, Siemens said.

Multivendor Compatibility

OpenScape Video can be integrated with the OpenScape UC Server, enabling video and voice endpoints to easily participate in the same conference calls and use the same directory and call numbering plans. The videoconferencing solution also functions on a standalone basis, offering enterprises an easy migration to HD Video over IP.

The new OpenScape Video portfolio includes three HD systems and a PC soft client.

As a whole, the OpenScape UC suite of applications operate in multivendor environments and integrate with complementary offerings including IBM Sametime, Microsoft Office Communication Server and various others, Siemens said.

‘Challenging the Market’

“Siemens has a great product, but it’s become a very competitive market,” Bern Elliot, research vice president with Gartner, told TechNewsWorld.

“What they’ve done here is put together their competitive and software-based IP PBX with their competitive and software-based OpenScape,” he explained. “In a sense, they’re challenging the market and saying, ‘this is an all-software solution that can be delivered on CD, and it provides industrial-strength capabilities.’ They anticipate this will get them reinvigorated in the market.”

Indeed, as the unified communications space matures, it “becomes less a product and more a set of capabilities,” Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala told TechNewsWorld. “We will start seeing it embedded in other applications, and the only way you can do that is by being a software vendor.”

Building an Ecosystem

Siemens has been losing share steadily over the last few years, Kerravala noted, and approaching UC from the hardware side clearly wouldn’t work.

“This software strategy aligns with the direction the market is going,” he said.

Looking ahead, while Siemens is one of the best traditional telecom vendors in the space, it’s still missing the ecosystem of Internet service providers that competitor Microsoft currently enjoys, Kerravala pointed out. “Siemens will probably have to focus on building that piece next.”

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