Mitel Networks Corp. of Ottawa has released a version of its call control software that lets companies install unified communications on servers using VMware Inc.’s (NYSE:VMW) vSphere virtualization software.
The whole point is to let users save money on hardware, electricity and cooling by running phone call control software on the same hardware as computing applications.
Virtual Mitel Communications Director is available now, and virtualized server versions of Mitel Applications Suite (MAS) and Mitel Border Gateway (MBG) will be available in two months, said Alan Zurakowski, Mitel’s director of business development.
“Instead of running it on ICP 3300 it runs virtualized on vSphere,” Zurakowski said, referring to Mitel’s Internet Protocol Communications (ICP) private branch exchange.
It’s part of a trend in which users are installing telecommunication software on to commercial off-the-shelf servers instead of purchasing PBXs or call control hardware, said Brent Kelly, senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research LLC of Brookline, Mass.
“Given that fact that all these call control engines are software-based anyway now, it seems to makes sense to be able to do this,” Kelly said.
Virtual Mitel Communications Director will have the same features as the current version of Mitel Communications Director, Zurakowski said.
These include controlling calls using IP, media streaming, dynamic extensions, administration groups, audio conferencing, multi-node management and connecting calls between more than one Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) provider.
“It moves companies away from needing a specialty and often proprietary communications hardware in their data centre,” said Grant Aitken, area vice-president of VMware Canada. “A customer now has all they need for running their telephone systems at least on the back end, by using industry-standard servers and industry standard computer networking.”
Virtual Mitel Communications Director requires version 4 of vSphere on a server running Intel Corp.’s (NASDAQ:INTC) Xeon 5500 series processors with a speed of at least 2 GHz, with a minimum of two processor cores, with Intel’s Nehalem technology and hyper-threading. The server requires at least 2 GB of RAM, 10 GB of disk space and 40 Megabits per second (Mbps) of throughput.
By using vSphere 4, users can run other applications on the same server, including SAP AG’s business software, databases and file and print servers, Zurakowski said.
“You can run Mitel Communications Director on a virtual machine with other business applications and call quality and performance is guaranteed,” he said. “We have done enough testing to guarantee that. Our competitors have not been able to achieve that.”
Kelly said this is the first product available to the public he is aware of that offers these features using virtualization.
Zurakowski said Virtual Mitel Communications Director users can move between machines using VMware’s VMotion technology.
“You might get a few cracks and pops like a cell phone, but the call will not be dropped.”
VMotion lets companies move virtual machines from one server to another without losing the network identity or connections or access to virtual disk storage.
Kelly said the major concerns when moving IP calls among machines include latency, jitter and packet loss.
MCD lets administrations manage more than one system from one logon screen and lets companies delegate management control of specific tasks. The “dynamic extensions” refers to the ability for administrators to route calls to different devices, such as cellphone and home numbers. For example, a user could have up to eight devices, including SIP Wi-Fi clients, includes in a single identity. It also includes hot desking, meaning users can log into any Mitel IP phone and have their profile, including speed dials and line appearances, downloaded to those phones while they are logged in.
With a virtual machine version of call control, this opens the door to service providers offering unified communications, presence awareness and other telecom services from their servers using the cloud computing concept, Kelly said.
“If you look at where the market is going, there is this trend toward centralization or virtualization, moving to the cloud,” Kelly said. “This cloud can be within the enterprise or with the service provider.”
Kelly cited as an example a demonstration at last year’s VoiceCon conference, where Siemens Enterprise Communications (SEN) of Munich announced it was running trials of its OpenScape unified communications software on Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Elastic Compute Cloud.
SEN Group is 51-per-cent owned by Gores Group LLC, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, with German electronics conglomerate Siemens AG a minority owner. It also includes products from Enterasys Networks Inc., formerly known as Cabletron.
When it announced its demonstration last March, SEN described it as a “proof of concept” of a way to deliver “pay as you go” services to telecom managers who do not want to purchase PBXs.