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IBM on Monday introduced 3Com-developed software that it hopes will drive the use of its high-powered System i for IP telephony.
IBM has offered System i for awhile with basic IP telephony features meant to replace a business's traditional PBX telephone switching system. The latest 3Com offerings, however, extend the server's capabilities through integration with IBM Lotus Sametime collaboration software and Domino e-mail server.
Because of System i's ability to scale up to 64-way symmetrical multiprocessing, IBM is pushing the hardware as a single machine for running a company's business applications and its IP telephony system. "It's a one-server footprint," Mike Rousseaux, System i collaboration offerings manager for IBM, said in an interview. "Everything can run on the same server."
As a result, the System i is easier to manage and maintain than products that offer the same functionality on clusters of Windows servers, according to Rousseaux. "From a simplicity and scalability perspective, we have a very nice solution," he said. "Our competitors have solutions that scale horizontally; we scale vertically in one system."
Among the features available in the software bundle is Web conferencing, including the ability to share and collaborate on documents, for a maximum of six people. The system can scale to handle more people at an additional cost. In addition, people can set up conference calls with up to six people by simply clicking on their names in their contact lists.
The integration with Domino makes it possible to have voice, faxes and e-mail accessible through one Inbox. IBM said it plans to add support for Microsoft's Exchange e-mail server later this year. The Domino directory and the telephone directory used in routing calls have been synchronized; so changing the Domino directory is all that's needed to update the system.
An in-bound call center application is available for intelligent routing of calls based on volume, service rep availability and other factors. In addition, IBM is offering a software development kit for IT departments that want to offer telephony capabilities as a Web service on a corporate portal.
IBM sells all the hardware and software, and provides the maintenance and support. The basic IP telephony system, without the new applications, starts at $37,900 for 100 users. The 3Com software integrates with either Sametime or Domino, and costs an additional $500 per server.