In rush to IP future, Zultys builds bridge to the past

Voice over IP (VoIP) and IP telephony may be all the rage amongst networking vendors, but lingering hesitation about the new technology is keeping many potential customers from pulling the plug on their old systems just yet. The result: many find they need to vendors pause in their endless pursuit of the VoIP future to make sure they leave doors open behind them for technology laggards to follow.

For IP PABX vendor Zultys, customer demand for backwards compatibility was strong enough that the company has made support for fractional PCM (via T1 or E1 leased line) a major feature of just-released version 3.0 of the software for its MX30 application.

Director of Oceania business development with the vendor, Tony Warhurst, says the decision to add support for legacy trunk lines was more than aesthetic.

"To be honest, the business in Australia hasn't been as successful as we'd hoped even though we have sold quite a few systems," he said.

"It's just an issue of [customer] education. The customer needs to realize that VoIP is providing the same sort of quality that you get from Telstra or Optus; adding the partial E1 support means they can still stick with their leased lines but get many of the new features as well. [Last] week alone we've had five resellers thanking us because now they have something new to offer many of their hesitant customers."

Other major features of the new release include an automated attendant, basic interactive voice response capabilities, integration for Microsoft Exchange to provide unified messaging, and an instant messaging bridge that links the Zultys equipment with instant messaging services from Microsoft, Yahoo!, AOL and ICQ. This last function allows full control over and logging of IM services that previously had to be blocked due to corporate governance requirements.

Addition of such capabilities are extending the role of the IP PABX as a call handler, turning it into more of a central communications server that helps manage all inbound and outbound communications. The appeal of such a solution, Warhurst says, will finally convince many recalcitrant customers to give IP telephony a go. "People crawl before they walk before they run," he says. "Many companies are still about to start taking their first fumbling steps."

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