Cisco buy aids cell phone, VOIP net integration


Cisco this week announced it is buying Orative Corporation, a maker of cell phone software that ties mobile phone users to corporate IP PBXs and messaging systems. Cisco will pay US$31 million in cash for San Jose-based Orative, which is already a Cisco development partner. Orative, which has 33 employees, makes a mobile phone client software and a server application that allows cell phone users to make calls and handle messages as if plugged into a wired IP phone, or as if working via a PC application interface.

The Orative Client software allows end-users with mobile devices on a GSM network to log into an enterprise Cisco VOIP network and access features and applications as if they were in the office. A cell phone GUI allows users to scan voicemail messages, check the presence status of other employees, or access corporate directories. On the backend, the Orative Enterprise Server, a Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application that is also Windows- and Linux-compatible, interfaces with Cisco CallManager IP PBX servers and Cisco Unity Unified Messaging servers. Cisco’s Unity product combines CallManager voicemail with either Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes e-mail/groupware servers.

The Orative client attaches to a corporate network via an SSL log-in session, which takes place when the phone is powered on. Features such as conferencing, hold, call forwarding, least-cost call routing, and four-digit dialing are some of the CallManager features that extend to cell phones via Orative.

The Orative technology gives Cisco a cell phone integration package that will compete with Avaya’s Extension to Cellular feature, which ties cell phone users into a corporate Avaya PBX or IP PBX. Competitive products in cell phone/PBX convergence include Ascendant Systems (part of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion) and Divitas.

The Orative client software works with mobile devices running Symbian OS (which runs on phones from Nokia, Samsung and Ericsson), BREW and BlackBerry devices.

Orative was founded in 2003 with backing of more than $18 million in venture funding from Mayfield and Diamondhead Ventures, and Trinity Ventures. Orative employees will be rolled into Cisco’s Voice Technology Group, headed by senior vice president Don Proctor. The acquisition is expected to close in early 2007.

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