BlueNote merges VOIP with Web services

BlueNote Networks this week has launched a version of its IP telephony and voice application development package that enables customers to weave Web services into their voice networks.

What's new is an API that can be used to integrate telephony and voice features into other Web or enterprise software packages based on service-oriented architecture (SOA) standards such as XML and SOAP.

The company says its SessionSuite SOA Edition, like the SessionSuite Enterprise version that made its debut a year ago, can be deployed as a PBX replacement or as an add-on to existing business telephone systems. The original SessionSuite -- which helped make BlueNote one of Network World's 10 Start-ups to Watch this year -- is based on Linux servers, standard Intel hardware and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). SessionSuite Enterprise provides IP PBX functions such as conferencing, voice mail and auto attendant.

One organization planning to use the application is The Hudson Group, a limousine reservation system operator that which sells its Web-based software as a service to transportation companies nationwide.

"Voice-enabling our software is something that's important to us," says CEO Mark Ustik. He plans to integrate voice and telephony features such as click-to-call into his reservation system's Web interface -- allowing limousine customers to connect to a call agent via a transportation company's Web site. Merging call data with customer records is another application Ustik plans to implement.

"Not only will I be able to tell clients what kind of call volume they have but also what people worked with specific customers, and when -- on every single call," Ustik says.

The APIs BlueNote is offering in SOA Edition include the Session Lifecycle API and Session Manage API. The Lifecycle API allows SOA-based applications to set up and control SIP-based VOIP, instant messaging (IM) or video sessions on a SessionSuite server. (This includes the click-to-call features The Hudson Group's Ustick is deploying). The Manage API allows back-office SOA applications or network management platforms to work with BlueNote's messaging and VOIP systems; this could include the transfer of database records or customer files along with a transferred phone call in a contact center.

BlueNote is also introducing the SessionSuite Desktop client. The application, which includes a combined softphone and IM client interface, is a software-based client for SessionSuite Enterprise or SOA Edition servers. Users of the software can talk over a PC headset, or integrate the software with a legacy PBX desktop phone or a cell phone.

For this feature, the software taps into the gateway function of a SessionSuite server, which would be linked to the PBX via an ISDN cable. The software enables a user to place a call from his PC and conduct the call from the desktop phone.

BlueNote's products compete with standard IP PBX platforms such as offerings from 3Com, Avaya, Cisco, Nortel and Siemens. The open source Asterisk VOIP platform is another competing product. BlueNote also provides some functions found on collaboration servers such as Microsoft Live Communication Server and IBM's Lotus SameTime.

SessionSuite SOA Edition starts at US$250 per user (Dell servers are the preferred platform for BlueNote, and cost extra.). The SessionSuite Software Development Kit, which includes documentation and access to the vendor's development portal, costs US$2,000. The SessionSuite Desktop application costs US$99.

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