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VoiceCon offers range of unified communications products

Among them is a thin client/phone for the desktop from Sun and Mitel

March 17, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Several major networking companies have plans to introduce unified communications-related products at the VoiceCon Orlando conference that kicks off today.

One is a thin client combined with a desktop phone. Mitel Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are jointly announcing the combination of a Sun Ray thin client with a Mitel IP desk phone to be accessed via a Java-based smart card.

The combined product, called the Sun Ray Unified IP Client from Mitel, would sell for under $500 and will ship sometime in May, said Stephen Beamish, Mitel's vice president of business development.

With thin-client technology, data and computer programs can be kept on a centralized server, making the new phone and thin-client product ideal for call centers where workers rotate on various shifts and share workstations, Beamish said.

Neither Ottawa-based Mitel nor Sun has an exclusive contract to work together on the project, but have "mutually decided to work together" on what Beamish said is the first product of its kind.

One major benefit of the combined technology is that it lowers power usage to about 9 total watts for both the phone and thin client. Typically, a PC will use 80 watts of power, while a laptop uses 60. Because of the low wattage, both the phone and thin client can operate over a single Power over Ethernet cable, which provides 13 watts of power, Beamish said.

Mitel recently announced that its various communications software applications, known as the Mitel Communications Suite, can run on the SunFire X4150 server.

Deli XL, a food services company in The Netherlands and Belgium, has begun using the Mitel-Sun system for customer contact center operations, according to a Mitel statement.

Bob Hafner, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said he does not expect companies to redefine the way they deliver applications just to be able to use the Mitel/Sun product. However, he said it could be advantageous for companies that are moving to thin-client systems.

Separately, Motorola's Enterprise Mobility unit plans to demonstrate voice over Wi-Fi products at the conference. The manufacturer has outlined a general road map for product releases over the next two years, including a dual-mode phone that runs across Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Imran Akbar, general manager of converged enterprise communications, said Motorola's next-generation voice systems will be marketed under the name TotalEnterprise Access and Mobility, which will provide common architecture, security and management to interoperate with an organization's existing voice and data infrastructure, including voice switches and wired and wireless LANs.

Akbar said the first products from Motorola will emerge in the third quarter of this year, and then for the following 18 months. Two durable models of portable phones are part of what's coming, with voice over Wi-Fi planned and the ability to connect to three major voice switches from Avaya Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks, he said.

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