Just as computing evolved from centralized mainframes three decades ago to more efficient and flexible distributed processing architectures, so too has decades old centralized “telephone company” based telecommunication systems evolved from centralized equipment to a distributed network environment. Communication systems are migrating closer to the end user, providing cost efficiencies, redundancies, and services not possible in predecessor systems. Software based intelligence is replacing hardware, and being deployed throughout the distributed digital network to achieve ever more flexible and creative on-demand telecommunication services at much lower upfront and on-going maintenance costs.
This migration is creating a sea-change revolution in telecommunications in two respects: the convergence of voice and data over a single digital network; and the near elimination of costly traditional interconnection methods by utilizing the Internet for both voice and data transport, historically the domain of data only.
Atris deploys technology that incorporates both of these aspects to deliver communication services to multiple businesses and diverse users in the most cost efficient manner. A distributed network of PC based servers deliver state-of-the-art VoIP services to all users, both in-building and remote. Voice services, video, and data, from multiple businesses integrate on to a single standard Ethernet switched LAN/WAN while still maintaining complete partitioning and security between different businesses and users. Each business, regardless of size, has a complete array of voice and data services, the types usually available only to large enterprises through substantial investment.
Atris’ predecessor company, NTG Telecommunications, extensively evaluated many solutions for incorporating VoIP technology into a Shared Tenant Services environment and selected Chicago area based Sphere Communications Inc’s, SphericallTM software based telephone and communication management system as the foundation for its’ Shared Tenant Services rollout. The Sphericall system resides on networked PC Servers and enables a standard Ethernet network to become the foundation for a converged, integrated, voice, data, and video system delivering end-to-end IP PBX telephony solutions. The standard PC Servers share the processing and provide redundancy. The entire system utilizes IP protocol to extend next generation communication services throughout multi-tenant buildings to tenants of all sizes.
Sphere Communication’s solution also includes the powerful Sphericall PC Desktop application providing a one stop communications point for users, synchronized with their desktop phone to achieve complete mobility, integration, and management of all their voice mail and e-mail messaging, including retrieval, anywhere from any telephone or PC device.
Other solutions were evaluated including Shoreline, Avaya, Nortel, and Cisco. Although each of these vendors offer varying degrees of software based communication solutions, it was NTG’s perspective that none offered the complete combination of capabilities, flexibility, and redundancy afforded by the Sphere Communication’s Sphericall solution. In addition, Cisco has the disadvantage of being primarily a proprietary application of software and hardware, defeating Atris’ desire to deploy an open standards based solution affording the ability to incorporate future best of breed system enhancements.
Bolstering this decision to select Sphere Communication’s software based VoIP telephony system is the recent decision by Allied Telesyn Co. to make a significant investment in Sphere Communications and add the Sphericall product line to enhance its own product line of IP network switching gear. Allied Telesyn is a major manufacturer and distributor of Ethernet switching and routing equipment. Allied has worldwide sales of $500 million, $100 million of which is in the U.S. Sphere Communications offers Allied the ability to be more full service and extend their product line to edge solutions for their enterprise and large educational institution customers.
NTG, like Allied Telesyn, decided upon the Sphere Communication’s solution because it offers the advantages of:
Distributed System Architecture:
Sophisticated call management software provides redundancy and distributes the voice/data processing along multiple PC Servers across single and multiple networks.
Software Based Intelligence:
||-Reliability and redundancy
-Minimizes hardware costs
-Shared processing and load balancing provides maximum
customer system availability and throughput
-Flexible and redundant routing
-System remains up if single network component fails
-Scalable to 25,000+ users per system
Services and features are software based, not hardware or hard coded.
Open Standards Based Components:
||-Easily changed user features
-Rapid deployment of moves/adds/changes
-Remote configuration of user services
-Remote system administration, “Lights Out” equipment management
-GUI enables point and click provisioning and management
-Segmentation of features by user
-Ability to segment and secure communications between enterprises in Shared Tenant applications
-Utilizes an IP hub to manage multiple peer-to-peer and meeting hub video sessions simultaneously
The integration of diverse hardware and software into one system which is able to communicate and work together for maximum performance and
Exclusively VoIP within network:
||-Utilization of standard non-proprietary components
-Supports best of breed components and applications
-Multiple platform and operating system choices (Windows, Linux, etc.)
-Ability to support and integrate with both VoIP and traditional analog communication handsets, terminals, and networks.
-Handles both SIP and MGCP communication formats
-Interfaces with legacy customer owned
-Sophisticated interface with Microsoft Exchange affording expanded functionality
-Information outputs integrate with existing reporting and billing systems, Microsoft Outlook, and Customer
Utilization of VoIP throughout the network enables convergence of voice, data, and video onto a single standard Ethernet network.
||-The elimination of network overlays
-Fewer telephone lines in-building
-No reformatting of voice or data required at handoff to existing external IP transport networks (Internet, carriers)
-End to end convergence of voice and data within IP environments
-Convergence of telephone and PC.
-Shared use of in in-building cabling enables minimum cabling and maximum customer hook ups.
-Shared bandwidth T-1s and PRIs, connecting servers in the building back to PSTN and Internet, creating efficiencies.
Additionally, the Sphericall system enables automatic selection and routing preferences utilizing multiple T1 and traditional PRI interconnections, which can be located local and/or remote to the building being served, consolidating communication paths to the outside world, thus saving costs and gaining efficiencies.
Layered on top of the Sphericall application, NTG has developed its own proprietary software to complement selected Sphericall functionality. The proprietary software enables the platform to serve multiple organizations as if it were solely dedicated to each individual business customer. This includes enhancement of Sphericall’s Auto Attendant to offer completely segmented and differing functionality between tenants, multiple and tiered Auto Attendants within each business, and tenant unique on-hold music or recordings.