No VoIP? No Problem.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but as far as legacy phone systems are concerned, there may be hope after all. Objectworld, a vendor targeting small and midsize businesses (SMBs), this week announced its strategy to increase integration of its unified communications (UC) server with a wide variety of existing PBX phones. This will allow many businesses to bypass expensive telecommunications-convergence solutions while still gaining some benefits of UC. Objectworld UC Standard Edition version 4.3 could save businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to company estimates. The term "rip and replace" sounds scary enough, long before you factor in the cost of upgrading an entire legacy phone system. With a UC strategy that works on both Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems and private branch exchange (PBX) infrastructures, Objectworld customers can hold onto their PBX phones a little longer. "Cost is, and will continue to be, a major factor in business decisions when it comes to telephony," says Rebecca Swensen, research analyst with IDC. "I do not see [Objectworld's offering] as a step backwards for UC but as a realistic observation of how businesses with tighter budgets are buying today." It's also a fairly quick step, coming on the heels of Objectworld's October 2007 release of version 4.2 of UC -- the software company says that this week's launch of 4.3 provides additional gateways and supports a wider range of PBXs. It manufactures three editions of its UC server: one for Session Initiation Protocol, with integration into business applications; a second for existing PBX phones; and a third, pricier, Communications Enabled Business Process version for corporations. With each version, the UC server enables users to add unified messaging and a fax system to voice systems. Objectworld hopes that the latest version of UC for PBX will come to the rescue of companies that may have recently purchased new PBX systems and are now wondering what to do with them. The vendor has roughly 10 years experience providing for adjunct PBX systems. In 2001 it began transitioning toward VoIP. Swensen comments on the fact that Objectworld is highly focused on voice applications. As for the UC features of presence and instant messaging, the company is reliant on integrating with Microsoft Windows Server 2008, she adds. "Objectworld focuses on voice and partners and/or integrates with other solutions to provide the other aspects of a UC platform," she explains. "This might not be a negative issue, however; it depends on how well their platform integrates and how flexible the platform is." Objectworld says it plans on fully integrating with Microsoft Office Communications Server in the future, as well as with the Microsoft Windows Midmarket Server. It is also working on an interoperability program to connect with new partners down the road. Nine months ago, Objectworld paired with Internet Protocol voice and video provider Grandstream Networks, with the hope of providing easy "plug-and-play" UC access. Right now, the partnersip's focus remains on spreading the word about UC -- VoIP-ready or not. "Many of the solutions today are expensive, yet there are more companies who can benefit from the value of UC that cannot afford such a price point," Swensen points out. "Objectworld also recognizes the importance of customer interaction and has built [its] platform around that fundamental part of business operations."

Related articles: Avaya, Microsoft Ask If You See the Future in UC VoiceCon 2008: In a pair of keynotes at this year's conference, Avaya and Microsoft executives lay out the future of unified communications. Bringing the Customer Aboard the Unified Communications Bandwagon Contact center solutions vendor Aspect Software has a new UC strategy -- and the company says it starts with the customer. Unified Communication: Connected Anywhere, Anytime In an increasingly global economy, unified communications should be on the top of the to-do list for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), according to a new report. Viewpoint: Got a Unified Communications Strategy? If not, you've got a lot of room to improve collaboration efficiency. Microsoft Serves Unified Communications Speech Server 2007 will be part of the broader Office Communications Server 2007; Windows Vista will have speech recognition in eight languages, a Windows first. Fewer Vendors Sit Atop Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications Alcatel-Lucent, Microsoft, and Nortel retain their positions as leaders, but Cisco Systems and Siemens fall out of the top quadrant; Interactive Intelligence moves up a notch.
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