A startup is giving enterprises a way to roll out one phone for use inside and outside the office without a mobile operator’s help.
DiVitas Networks is aiming its Mobile Convergence Appliance (MCA) and Mobile Convergence Client (MCC) at organizations that want to free employees from their desks while maintaining control of their IT infrastructure and not being tied down to one carrier. Used on dual-mode Wi-Fi and cellular phones, the products let callers keep talking and using office phone features while they move in and out of range of the wireless LAN. Most enterprises buy expensive desk phones and PBXes (private branch exchanges) with advanced features, only to have many business calls take place on cell phones, even when an employee is just down the hall. A few handsets now can use cellular and Wi-Fi networks, but there have been technical hurdles to going back and forth, and mobile operators have moved slowly on a technology that could cost them revenue. For the price of a traditional office phone system, DiVitas said it can give every employee a phone that can be used anywhere.
At the heart of the system is the MCA, which can function as a PBX in a small enterprise or supplement an existing PBX, said Founder and CEO Vivek Khuller. The MCC software can provide its own interface for presence, showing whether co-workers are available in real time.
Because it’s an enterprise device talking to enterprise software on the handset, the IT department can control its own infrastructure, Khuller said. Meanwhile, there’s no need to wait for a mobile operator to get into the game or to stick with one operator down the road, he said.
The client currently can be loaded on three dual-mode devices, all of which run Microsoft Corp. Windows Mobile 5.0: the Verizon Wireless Inc. XV6700, the TyTN 8525 from High Tech Computer Corp. and the MC70 from Motorola Inc.’s Symbol division. Among other devices, DiVitas is developing a client for Nokia Corp.’s Symbian-based E Series smart phones and plans to support Linux handsets in the future.
The company offers a rich client, with its own presence and one-click calling or messaging interface, and a thin client that can be integrated with the phone’s software and interface. DiVitas is talking with Microsoft about making MCC work with Live Communications Server, and it plans to work with IBM Corp. on Sametime integration also.
Most enterprises aren’t ready for dual-mode phones, though the technology may make sense for industries including financial services and health care, according to ABI Research analyst Stan Schatt. To really penetrate those industries, DiVitas will have to get its software onto more types of devices, including less expensive ones, because enterprises will want to give the same phone to all employees to realize the system’s benefits, he said. A key problem is the lack of support on Research in Motion Ltd.’s popular BlackBerry platform, he said. DiVitas plans to talk with RIM about cooperation in the future, a DiVitas representative said.
The DiVitas MCA 1000 is available now from resellers, starting at US$5,495 and including a 10-user MCC license.