Lucent gives Web face to unified messaging

Lucent this week will take a step toward making unified messaging easier to install and learn for network administrators and end users respectively.

Not surprisingly, Lucent's tool will be the Web. At the CTI Expo in Washington, D.C., Lucent will introduce a product called www.messenger, which is corporate Web server software that provides a Web client interface for some of Lucent's principal messaging products.

The idea behind www.messenger is to offer a Web user interface into Lucent's voice-mail products similar to what is now available for some e-mail programs. The package will also provide a single, integrated screen for voice, fax and e-mail messages for users who choose one - though not all - of Lucent's unified-messaging products.

For example, companies with certain models of Lucent's Octel voice-messaging servers can install www.messenger and end users will receive a browser-based screen with all their voice and fax messages. Using a button called Connected View, end users can call up messages from their e-mail clients without leaving the Octel application.

Other companies with Lucent's Intuity Audix system - which unifies e-mail headers into a voice and fax mailbox - can install www.messenger and give end users a single screen with voice, fax and e-mail messages. One advantage to this system, says Linda Stegeman, vice president of marketing for Lucent's enterprise messaging group, is that end users don't have to listen to each voice mail before finding the most important ones - and can even delete and forward voice mails with e-mail-like commands.

The new product is not designed to support Octel's Unified Messenger for Microsoft Exchange, which pops voice and fax messages into an Exchange mailbox and produces a unified interface via the Exchange client.

Unified messaging has been something of a tough sell, Lucent officials admit. Stegeman says www.messenger is designed to remove one stumbling block - the unwillingness of network managers to spend time and effort installing and then updating client desktops for what is essentially an add-on feature to bread-and-butter enterprise voice and data messaging systems.

Although there is no client software installation, www.messenger will be sold on a $US20 to $US80 per seat client license basis, depending on volume. For that price, buyers will receive the www.messenger Web client and either Octel or Intuity's regular Windows client interface. Corporate network administrators can choose to give some end users (such as mobile salespeople) the Web client and others (such as call center agents) the regular interface, all on the same network.

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