Channel Partners

April 7, 2008

8 Min Read
Fully Loaded: Latest IP PBXs for SMBs Embed Business Applications

Telecommunications manufacturers continued to focus on the SMB telephony market throughout 2007. Among the new entries in 2007 are SMB systems that come complete with preloaded business applications, eliminating the need for the separate software or hardware that is typical with traditional PBX systems.

Database and analyst group TelecomTactics, a division of The Telecom Intelligence Group at Access Intelligence, finds that about 60 percent of new telephony system introductions in 2007 targeted small businesses or branch offices of larger organizations that have fewer than 250 employees. This represents an upward shift from 2006 (about 50 percent in 2006), but is more in line with previous years when a greater majority of telephony systems entering the market were geared toward smaller businesses (nearly 70 percent in 2005 and 60 percent in 2004).

Also in 2007, manufacturers introduced a handful of midsize systems (those supporting between 250 and 750 stations) and fewer new systems for larger businesses (above 750 stations), though some larger platforms, previously on the market, were upgraded for more capacity, as well as with enhanced functionality (business continuity, productivity and mobility were key areas for system upgrades in 2007).

TelecomTactics research finds that half of the new SMB systems introduced in 2007 (those supporting up to 750 stations) represent all-in-one systems with a set of applications that are activated by license keys, with no additional components necessary. The quantity and types of embedded applications vary and might include voice mail, auto attendant, unified messaging, conferencing, contact center, call recording, mobility, unified communications and other business functionality.

Peter Bailey, senior vice president of product marketing and business development at Vertical Communications Inc., explains: “As we studied the market and our customers, we found that many businesses were struggling with, or avoiding altogether, deploying high-value communications applications due to their complexity and cost. Historically, these applications have been very expensive point solutions requiring dedicated servers with dedicated management tools and associated integration and management costs. We saw a significant opportunity to attack the cost and complexity issue with a simple, highly integrated approach for deploying applications with a phone system.”

As 2008 unfolds, more application-rich, competitively priced IP PBXs will emerge on the market. Built-in applications that are easily activated (as needed) address small business needs for simplicity, ease of installation and management, and cost savings when adding new functionality. Moreover, applications enable manufacturers to differentiate their offers from the competition. Forthcoming systems likely will include not only additional packaged applications, but also a wider variety of functionality that will help each manufacturer stand apart from the crowd.

3Com Corp., Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Siemens Communications Inc.,Teltronics Inc., Vertical Communications and WIN Communications Corp. are among the vendors that introduced a complete IP PBX for SMBs in 2007. Below are descriptions of four next-generation IP platforms, packaged with business-critical applications and promising a competitive price. See the table 2007 Rollouts on page 34 for a comprehensive list of new 2007 offers from leading manufacturers.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Business integrated Communication Solution (BiCS)

Alcatel-Lucent’s Business-integrated Communication Solution

(BiCS) addresses midsized enterprises (100-500 employees) with an all-in-one solution that prepackages several Alcatel-Lucent applications on a single hardware server, as follows: OmniPCX Enterprise IP Telephony, OmniTouch Contact Center Standard Edition, My Instant Communicator Unified Communications, XML APIs for third-party application integration, OmniVista 4760 Management and High Reliability Hard Disk Mirroring. BiCS includes the core OmniPCX Enterprise software and all of the applications required; end customers activate and pay only for applications and number of users (a predictable pay-as-you-grow deployment model). My Instant Communicator is a new licensing model that aggregates voice, presence, instant messaging, video and conferencing sessions within a single license. A user can access all of these Alcatel-Lucent multimedia real-time communication applications via any device (PC, IP telephone, mobile device). In the initial phase, BiCS will run on an IBM X3250 though Alcatel-Lucent is looking to make the solution hardware agnostic and compatible with any suitable server platform. BiCS became available in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Norway in fourth quarter 2007 with global availability expected in 2008.

Cisco’s Smart Business Communications System

Cisco’s Smart Business Communications System (SBCS)

focuses on smaller businesses with new additions. The all-in-one SBCS provides telephony, messaging and mobility within a single, compact and easily-administered device. The heart of Cisco’s SBCS is the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series which combines Unified Communications Manager Express (formerly CallManager Express), Unity Express (voice and desktop messaging) and Cisco IP phones’ and comes preloaded with all software and licenses. It also includes video support, integrated VPN, Wireless LAN access and embedded security. Cisco Configuration Assistant, a Graphical User Interface for system administration and management, is included at no extra cost. Customers can choose from four configurations: the desktop or wall-mount Cisco Unified Communications 520 System (eight- or 16-user configuration) or the rack-mount Cisco Unified Communications 520 System (32- or 48-user configuration).

Siemens HiPath OpenOffice Medium Edition

Siemens HiPath OpenOffice ME (Medium Edition)

is a complete, preconfigured telephony system for individual enterprises. The new platform incorporates a suite of preloaded basic and advanced applications that eliminates the need for separate software or hardware. The system, designed for 50 to 150 users (to 300 users in future) comes preconfigured with built-in voice and conferencing services, voice mail, messaging (Microsoft Outlook integration), mobility (built-in controller for integrated Wireless LAN Solution 802.11b/g) and presence. An advanced license opens additional applications: Microsoft Outlook plug-in, dial from any application, fax service, mobile phone integration and full ad-hoc and preset conferencing via a graphical user interface. The preloaded software is activated by license keys so customers unlock only the software capacities they need. Siemens is rolling out HiPath OpenOffice ME in waves with Wave I to become available first in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy, followed by availability in Canada, Denmark, Spain, South Africa, Portugal, Poland, Turkey and Australia (Wave II).

Vertical Communications’ Wave IP 2500 Business Communications System

Vertical Communications’ Wave IP 2500 Business Communications System

is a newly released IP-based communications platform for SMBs and larger distributed organizations (50 to 500 users with custom configurations available upon request). Wave IP incorporates an “applications inside” architecture — a suite of preloaded basic and advanced applications. Voice mail, auto attendant and call recording are embedded and come standard on Wave IP, while more advanced applications (such as Contact Center, Call Classifier, Conference Manager, Fax Manager and Voice Server) are ready to run and activated easily with license keys. Wave IP represents the integration of product lines following the merger of four telephony vendors over the past three years — Artisoft, Vertical Networks, Comdial and Vodavi. Wave IP supports legacy telephone equipment to help migrate existing Vertical customers to Wave IP.

Sandra M. Gustavsen is an analyst covering enterprise systems for TelecomTactics, a database publisher and analyst group within Access Intelligence LLC.

Cool Tools

Need up-to-date information on available enterprise telephony systems and their features and pricing? Need to compare systems across different product elements? Check out TelecomTactics at It offers an interactive Web-based sales tool featuring detailed feature/function-based comparisons of enterprise communications equipment and applications in a side-by-side report format. Product categories covered include IP PBX, PBX, key systems, IP telephones, voice and unified messaging, contact centers and ACD, unified communications, wireless and hospitality systems. Call +1 800 678 4642 for more details.

2007 Rollouts

Small Systems



Target Market

Maximum Stations


VCX Connect 100, VCX Connect 200

50-250 users

100, 250


MAX 1000

2-20 users



Distributed Office i40, i120

Branch Offices of 1,000+ user firms

40, 120


Unified Communications Manager Express / 1861 ISR

2-8 users



Unified Communications 500 Series

2-50 users



Asterisk Appliance

2-50 users



ESI-100, ESI-200

50+ users

84, 192

NEC Unified Solutions*


5-20 users



OfficeServ 7100

2-25 users



HiPath OpenOffice ME

20-150 users



Cerato SE (Small Edition)

10-20 users


Vertical Communications

Xcelerator IP

3-10 users



eNet100, eNet200

2-40 users, 20-200 users

100, 200

Medium Systems



Target Market

Maximum Stations


Business integrated Communication Solution (BiCS)

80-500 users


Avaya *

IP Office 500

20-99 users



Unified Communications Manager Business Edition

200-500 users



KX-TDE100, KX-TDE200

to 75 users, 76-175 users


Vertical Communications

Wave IP 2500

30-250 users


Large Systems



Target Market

Maximum Stations


OmniPCX Enterprise “XL”

Entire Market Segment

15,000 per server


S8720 Media Server “XL”

1,000+ users

36,000 per server



500+ users

816 per server


3300 ICP MXe Controller

500-5,000 users

5,600 per server


Communication Server 1000E CP PM

250+ users

22,500 per server

*Platform represents a packaging of existing system software, but with added applications and/or for a new target market
**Platform is not new, but is upgraded to handle larger capacity
Source: TelecomTactics

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