Mitel adds video presence to desktop client

With organizations increasingly testing the uses of videoconferencing, Mitel Networks Inc. has made it easier to launch point-to-point desktop video from its client application.

The Ottawa company said Monday that Unified Communicator Advanced 4.0, its desktop client, now shows presence for video within an enterprise, allowing connectivity with a single click. Availability shows as a small camera icon beside a person’s name.

The idea, said Brooks Riendeau, a Mitel solutions manager is that it “puts video at the fingertips of the user.”

UCA 4.0 also adds what Mitel calls “context” for video calls, which is the ability to send a pop-up text message to someone you want to have video call with to explain why you want to connect, instead of having to phone them.

This accompanies the previous capability to send context messages for voice calls.

Another major improvement of the client is the ability to show presence to Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) and Lotus Sametime environments. Until now UCA only had telephony connectivity between those applications.

“Now organizations that have heavily invested in either OCS or Sametime have a path they can go forward with for best of breed” communications system including Mitel, Riendeau said.

Presence connectivity with the new Microsoft Lync environment will come later this year with an update, he added.

Finally, dispersed UC Advance servers can now be linked through peering, which increases scalability to up to 10,000 users.

For smartphone users, UC Advanced Mobile is limited to Research In Motion’s BlackBerrys. However, Riendeau said that clients for Apple iPhones and Android devices are coming later this year.

In the meantime, the free BlackBerry client has been improved by giving organizations the ability to provision locations for users to UC Advanced. Taking advantage of presence and GPS capabilities, it lets the BlackBerry user’s status change as they move. For example, an “in the office” status shifts mobile calls to the user’s desk phone, while “home office” might allow only voice but not instant messages.

Also new is the client’s integration with BlackBerry’s native contact list. Previously the UC mobile client linked to corporate contacts, but the change now allows users to initiate calls from personal contacts at the PBX level, cutting down cellular charges.

Riendeau wouldn’t say if or when Mitel will have clients for tablet computers, other than to note the company is a Research In Motion strategic partner.

RIM is about to release its Playbook tablet.



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