Tag Archive for Unified Communication

Unison – The Unmatched Unified Alternative

In our previous post we had reviewed a free software based PBX – 3CX. If you are looking for an unified solution to replace your old email server, IM server and PBX, then Unison is the answer!

what-is-unison

Unison is software that you an install on one Linux server, Unison Server. That server replaces several systems – PBX, e-mail, instant messaging, directory – with a single Unison system. Unison comes with a native desktop client for Windows or Linux, Unison Desktop.

Unison comes with 2 parts: Unison Server and the Unison Desktop.

Unison Server

unison-server

Unison Server is the world’s first truly unified communications server. It includes fully-integrated e-mail, instant messaging and presence, an IP-PBX, a calendar server and an LDAP directory with contacts. Administrators manage everything via Unison Control Panel. Click to view the components and protocols we use.

What is in Unison Server?

  • PBX / telephone: Call center-class IP-PBX built in, with patented scaling technology
    Directory / contacts: LDAP with global, departmental and personal address books
  • E-mail / e-mail security: High-performance e-mail server with antivirus and antispam built in
  • Instant messaging : Integrated XMPP-based instant message and presence server
  • Calendar server: Advanced CalDAV-based calendaring with group scheduling

Unison Desktop

What is in Unison Desktop?

Unison includes Unison Desktop, a native desktop client. Running on either Windows or Linux, it replaces legacy clients such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. Unison Desktop is easy to use and feels familiar to people who know other clients

What is in Unison Desktop?

  • E-mail
  • Calendars and group scheduling
  • Contacts and distribution lists
  • Instant messaging  Separate client
  • User presence  Separate client
  • Telephony
  • Tasks

Pricing

Well, if you have budget constrains then Unison has a zero-cost sponsored version as an alternative. If you want to get rid of the sponsor ads then you can go for a commercial license.Both versions are fully-functional, with no limits on users or how long you can use the product.

Do you want to try?

The easiest way is to try the demo version or the free download and deploy it yourself.

If you are using an email system then Unison offers a server-side migration tool to move e-mail and contacts from Microsoft Exchange to Unison.

If you are using an existing phone system then you can buy a gateway or digital card from companies such as Cisco or Digium. This allows you to connect your existing analog or digital telephone lines to Unison. If you already have a SIP provider, you can simply configure Unison to work with that system using Unison Control Panel.

Looking for more information, then checkout the benefits

 

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Top Technologies that will grow during this recession

Well, there is no doubt that the economy is in deep recession but as we know life will go on. Instead of worrying about the recession it is wiser to look for opportunities which could actually benefit from the money crunch. Here we list out 10 such technologies that would most likely survive the recession and possibly grow further.

recession

Open Source – Gone are the days when corporate IT budget was fat and insanely expensive software’s like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, SAP etc were a “no big deal” matters. Every company has stricter IT budget control that would help them not only survive the recession but also to reduce cost and be agile. Companies software budget is reduced more than 50% in some cases and FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and nearly free commercial Open Source Software are a boon for the companies software infrastructure. Thanks to software like Open Office (an alternative for MS Office), GIMP (an alternative for Adobe Photoshop), Pentaho (Commercial Open Source Business Intelligence), Vyatta (Commercial Open Source alternative to Cisco routers), Asterisk (Open source alternative to Avaya/Cisco PBX product line), Alfresco (Open Source alternative to Microsoft Sharepoint) etc the list goes on and on. Open Source really breaks vendor lock-in and for a fraction of price they bring the same advantage of proprietary commercial software along with 24/7 customer support. So, there is no way this business model will get affected by the recession. It is our top bet.

Software as a Service (SaaS) – Web based enterprise services are often been linked to Cloud Computing. SaaS model is something which will stay and grow in the coming days. Nine out of ten companies plan to grow their use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) in the next year, according to a survey by Gartner. Gartner also add, in the next 1 year alone 9 out of 10 companies will look for SaaS tools to reduce or make the enterprise software environment to be agile. Key benefits of SaaS are, its Subscription base payment model and browser based GUI (User Interface). SaaS also introduces collaborative way of working in  a team. Software patches are not required as every time users get the latest applications over browser. Google released it browser Chrome with a strong support for browser based application. Microsoft is working on its next generation browser platform called gazelle which is a totally new way of looking at browsers. This all means that there is enough fuel and momentum for SaaS to grow in the coming days.

Virtualization – Cost of maintaining and upgrading the server infrastructure is the most time consuming and expensive deal. It also grabs a lot of floor space, staff bandwidth to have the back-end server infrastructure for a company. This is why virtualization has picked greatly in the last few years. Gartner Says “Virtualization Will Be the Highest-Impact Trend in Infrastructure and Operations Market Through 2012”. The best bet are Server Virtualization and PC Virtualization. Though there is Application  Virtualization but it may not be as big as machine virtualization. Virtualization service providers like Amazon EC2, Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure Platform etc are going to change how the company maintains back-end servers. These can absolutely make things easier and back-end infrastructure maintenance may become history.

Tandberg

Source: Tandberg

Telepresence – Recession means cut down on travel cost. Often business meetings require a lot of travelling and when the travel budget is being scrutinized for optimization, Telepresence products come into the focus. Telepresence infrastructure give the best face to face meeting experience. They can have the state of the art video conferencing and voice communication systems that can virtually transmit people from one location to another. In this case, the user’s position, movements, actions, voice, etc. may be sensed, transmitted and duplicated in the remote location to bring about this effect. There are players like Tandberg, Cisco etc who are investing a great deal of money and energy to develop the technology and provide a realistic platform so that no one need to travel anywhere. CEO can provide his/her briefings over Telepresence infrastructure that can project his/her live 2D (has potential to become 3D) image to the remote location at an instance. People at the other location will have the closest experience of having their CEO around them.

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Social Networking and Collaborative Software tools – Web 2.0 has revolutionized the way web apps look and behave. It has impacted everyone who uses interne and given a new business model like Social Netowkring and Collaborative software tools. There are thousands and thousands of Collaborative tools listed on Web 2.0 directories like Listio and Go2Web20. Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn etc are thriving and their net worth is almost tripling every now and then. This will continue as recession has no effect on people seeking refuge in online communities. Specialized Social Networking sites like LinekedIn etc can even help you find a job if your laid off. So it is very powerful business which is here to stay.

Network Management – Network management tools are good at saving costs. These tools can scan through the big network and help administrators to reuse the existing network or hardware resources efficiently. They can also act as intrusion detection systems saving thousands of dollars.

Mobile Computing – More and More people prefer Mobile device over to desk phones, Laptops over Desktops. Younger generation use devices like Blackberry, iPhone and soon Android driven devices will hit the market. There are a lot of opportunity for mobile application and platform development work.

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Content Security Appliances and Software – Infonetics reports that “Worldwide content security gateway revenue was up 25% from 2007 to 2008, hitting $1.9B, and will grow
another 10% in 2009, bucking the harsh economic climate. The short and long-term opportunity for content security is strong”. Reasons for security concerns are increased number of spammers, hacking tools etc. Websense reports that Every 8 out of 10 email messages are spam. Service providers are scaling their networks to handle more traffic and are investing big deal on security. However, growth of SaaS, cloud computing may limit the Security developments as small and medium businesses need not worry about Hardware and security infrastructure at all. However, there is enough steam for Security related technologies and will be safe during this recession.

dilbertvirtualization

Green Technology – Well, companies are more worried about saving energy and fuel costs rather than worrying about environment. Well this is not helping anyone make money directly but indirectly technologies like cloud computing, virtualization get benefited by the idea of green IT initiatives. Forrester reports that thin desktop clients over traditional desktops save around 25% of power consumption costs. So, As per the trend about 60% of the enterprise have green IT initiatives.

greenit2 greenit

Source: ZDNet

Unified Communications – At this time of cost cutting and streamlining business processes, Unified Communication has a lot of scope. Single identity and The arrival of unified communication means convergence of VoIP Telephony, email, instant messaging, mobile communication, web conferencing into a single platform is what is helping the companies achieve higher efficiency. This is a boon as when the productivity increases, there is a high chance of innovation and revenue growth for companies. Players like IBM, Microsoft, Cisco are bullish on Unified Communications and world looks forward to it.

Growing Demand for Unified Communication

Unified Communications (UC) is the new buzz word with a vision to simplifying and integrating all forms of communications. Everyone will have simply one number to reach you despite having one or more possible number of combinations. Everyone will send or receive message on one medium and receive on another.

Microsoft_UC250

Image Source : http://www.clearwaypartners.com/images/Microsoft_UC250.jpg

When TelecomWeb, The Telecom Intelligent Group, as part of its research studies asked the Enterprise decision-makers about the most important capabilities of UC applications, the short answer was Accessibility and Business Value. The long answer was:

  • Accessibility – The ability to access UC applications from any end-point device (i.e. desk phone; wireless phone; or PC-based Softphone.
  • Business Value – The ability to use UC applications in a business context to achieve measurable business value (e.g. faster response to a customer inquiry).

Device Proliferation or Consolidation?

When probed more deeply on the subject of demand for access from multiple device to the features of IP Telephony systems and Unified Communication applications, here is what the Enterprise decision-makers had to say. Do Enterprise decision-makers expect there will be a proliferation of devices or a consolidation? The answer was Yes!

  • By 2009, over 40% of Enterprise IP Telephony users expect to have two or more devices that can access the features of their IPT systems and UC applications.
  • In five years, up to a third of Enterprise IP Telephony users could justify replacing their desk phone with an advanced wireless phone.

Though these two answers seem to be contradicting on the surface, the common element is that the broad market accepts Unified Communication applications.

In the recent market research survey, over 500 Enterprise and SMB decision makers were asked what percentage of their IP Telephone users would be very likely to use a Unified Communication in future. Here is the summary of the projected rate for Unified Communication Application over the next five years.

US International
Enterprises (more than 500 employees) 53% 48%
SMBs (500 or fewer employees) 61% 69%

Source: www.TelecomWeb.com

Here are vision statements of the two leading manufactures today who are investing heavily in Unified Communication area.

Microsoft unified communications technologies use the power of software to deliver complete communications—messaging, voice, and video—across the applications and devices that people use every day.

Integrating the experiences you associate with the telephone—phone calls, voice mail, and conferencing—the work you do on a computer—documents, spreadsheets, instant messaging, e-mail, and calendars—has the power to fundamentally change the way people work.

We believe unified communications will transform business in the coming decade in the same way e-mail changed the business landscape in the 1990s.

When phone services become software, are managed by a server, and are delivered to desktop applications, many interesting things happen.

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/uc/vision.mspx

Cisco Unified Communications: Enriching Collaboration through a Unified Workspace Today’s organizations must contend with increasingly complex communications environments featuring a wide array of communications methods.

Employees, business partners, customers, and constituents communicate with one another through infinite combinations of wired, wireless, and mobile phones; voice messaging; e-mail; fax; mobile clients; and rich-media conferencing.

Too often, however, these tools are not used as effectively as they could be. The result is information overload, lack of agility, and misdirected communications that delay decisions, slow down processes, drive customers away, and reduce productivity. Ineffective communications also result in missed revenue opportunities
because businesses are not prepared to quickly react to market changes.

Unified communications solutions have proven their ability to help organizations solve such problems, enabling them to transform their business, streamline business processes and reduce costs. For years, companies of all sizes have been realizing the benefits that carrying voice, data, video, and mobile communications across a converged IP network can bring. Today, Cisco Unified Communications Solutions unify voice, video, data, and mobile applications on fixed and mobile networks, delivering media-rich collaboration experience across business, government agency, and institutional workspaces.

These applications use the network as the platform to enhance comparative advantage by accelerating decision time and reducing transaction time.

Source: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/pdfs/Cisco%20UnifiedCommunicationsSolutionOverview.pdf

From this it is clear that the focus is to use daily communications to accomplish all work in the most efficient way and without having the equipment that we use today get in our way.

Who are the major players in the Unified Messaging field for the enterprise?

Cisco, Microsoft, and IBM are the major players in this area. While Cisco and IBM have been working very closely together to blend their strengths to deliver a strong Unified Messaging or Communication package, Microsoft have had lots of help through their association with Nortel. For small to medium business range, there are plethora of startups competing for this area.

If you are a small company and understand IP Telephony, you could get an IP PBX for free, running on Windows or Linux platform. There is lots of Open Sources IP PBX available with all the great features that a small and medium business must have. It is amazing how the competition is driving the cost of small business market.

Whoever can build or create a best application for Unified Communication will win the market and the top three competing in this area recognizes that very well. This is a healthy competition because it leads to better services for enterprise or small business as well as drives the cost lower. Which means return on investment (ROI) will appear a lot faster than before.

Will Microsoft emerge as the king of Unified Communication?

As part of the survey TelecomWeb asked decision makers whether they were more likely to implement Microsoft’s version of a UC client or the version developed by the manufacturer/vendor of their IP-PBX. Here are the percentages of the respondents that favored the Microsoft version:

U.S. Enterprise U.S. SMB International
UC Client at the Desktop 55% 63% 63%
UC Client on Mobile Devices 51% 54% 54%

Though Microsoft is new to this area as compared to other players, do you agree that their direct association with Nortel will help them to emerge out as a King of Unified Communication?

Source: www.TelecomWeb.com

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