Siemens embraces VoIP

Siemens Enterprise Networks on Monday will announce PBX equipment designed to help businesses make the transition to IP-based telephony.

The HiPath 4000 is a hybrid PBX intended for large corporations that will support 100,000 users. Both IP and traditional circuit-based telephony can be deployed on the system. The HiPath 5000 Version 3.0 is a pure IP-based PBX. The 3.0 release has new features to support call centers and unified messaging.

These products together with the HiPath 3000, a hybrid PBX for small to midsize businesses announced last spring, form the basis for Siemens' convergence strategy. "It is all aimed at giving our customers a convenient, pragmatic migration path from analog to IP telephony," said Mark Straton, vice president for global marketing at Siemens.

Siemens's announcements are significant, said Joe Gagan, an analyst at The Yankee Group Inc. in Boston. "Some of the legacy PBX vendors are only offering hybrid, IP products. The fact that Siemens continues to enhance HiPath 5000, its pure IP offering, shows that the company recognizes that IP telephony is the way of the future."

The new PBX offerings will make use of a new software protocol called CoreNet IP. "CoreNet builds on the H.323 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) VoIP standard," said Joan Vandermate, director of product line management for Siemens. "It adds more PBX features into the IP world."

Siemens also will announce a new family of digital telephones for customers that are not yet ready to make the leap to IP telephones. The optiPoint 500 phones support TAPI (Telephony Application Programming Interface), USB, and interfaces.

Gagan said the announcements show Siemens is moving in the right direction. "I think that by 2005, over half of the enterprise telephony solutions sold will be IP. VoIP is absolutely going to happen. Vendors who embrace the technology, release products, get the kinks out, and train their sales force to sell it will have an advantage."

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