Want an IP PBX? Try These Collaboration Add-ons

LOS ANGELES (03/10/2000) - Lucent Technologies Inc. this week tried a fresh attempt to push unified messaging, desktop videoconferencing and other multimedia-friendly applications into enterprise networks.

And uncharacteristically for a legacy voice-equipment vendor, the new project, dubbed iCosm, is virtually a brand-new approach to IP-based personal communications.

The initial iCosm suite of applications, introduced at the Computer Telephony Expo, is designed largely for buyers of Lucent's IP Exchange Systems - the vendor's open-standards alternative to the classic Definity PBX. It begins a suite of four offerings that will be a stand-alone alternative to Lucent's own Intuity Message Manager and other add-ons to Lucent's traditional PBXs and voice-response platforms.

The first iCosm product, called iCosm Interaction Manager, is a rules-based set of applications for what Lucent officials call "informal call centers" - sets of employees responsible for customer relations but who aren't grouped in a typical telephony 800 phone bank.

Based on the Microsoft Outlook interface, Interaction Manager uses wizards and rules-based filtering technology to respond to customers regardless of medium.

The second product is iCosm Collaborative Video, a client application that provides multipoint videoconferencing over the Internet or IP virtual private networks without requiring a centralized conferencing server. The package supports a wide range of bandwidth levels so that network executives who have the bandwidth available from carrier services or private networks can push picture quality higher than what has typically been available to desktop video.

The third application, iCosm Liaison, is personal agent software that ties into users' contact databases, calendars and other productivity tools. Via a Web interface, individuals can set rules for forwarding calls received over IP Exchange Systems to other telephony devices, depending on calling party, time of day and other factors.

The fourth application, iCosm Messaging, is a unified-messaging overlay on Microsoft Outlook and Netscape Communicator that will be available in the second quarter from IP Exchange Systems resellers. The system converts voice mails to .WAV files and faxes to .TIF files for an integrated presentation on Outlook or Communicator. It also provides text-to-speech translation, including e-mail by phone.

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