CEBIT: Siemens hopes for unified communications breakthrough

Siemens is launching OpenScape Unified Communications Server, hoping to streamline unified communications

Complexity has made unified communications difficult to implement, but Siemens hopes to change that with OpenScape Unified Communications Server.

The unified communications concept has been around for ages, combining voice, instant messaging and video into one, with the ability to see how colleagues want to communicate -- so-called presence.

But very few enterprises are using it today, and the vendors are to blame, according to Gerhard Otterbach, chief marketing officer at Siemens Enterprise Communications.

"Implementing unified communications solutions has been very complex, implementing it has been too much work to be practical," Otterbach said.

Siemens hope to change all that with its new software-based platform, OpenScape Unified Communications (UC) Server. The key is using open standards, such as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), and presenting a single management offering.

OpenScape UC Server will come in three versions. The Medium Edition offers unified communications functionality for up to 1,000 users on a single server. The Large Edition supports up to 100,000 users, with full unified communications features for 20,000. The third version is tailored for hosted solutions.

OpenScape UC Server is the platform; different applications will run on top of it. The most obvious one is voice, which is still a very important application, according to Otterbach. Others include instant messaging and mobility.

At the Cebit trade show in Germany, Siemens also introduced OpenScape Video, a voice and video conferencing system that can be used in the meeting room and on the desktop. Like the rest of the family, it's based on SIP, and features support for high-definition video.

OpenScape UC Server and OpenScape Video will start shipping at the end of April. Pricing for the server hasn't been set. Pricing for OpenScape Video starts at US$9,867 for a single point-to-point product.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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