Editor's note: This article is part of a buying guide on unified communications. The features in this series describe the evolution of UC, its use cases and the important criteria to consider when buying a UC service. The series also compares the top UC products in the market. This article gives an overview of Alcatel-Lucent UC products.
Alcatel-Lucent's unified communications products include the OpenTouch Business Edition and OmniPCX Enterprise Communication Server. While both products are part of the Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch suite, the business edition supports up to 1,500 users and is geared toward small and medium-sized businesses, while the OmniPCX server can support up to 1 million users, clearly making it a large-enterprise solution.
Similar to other vendors, Alcatel-Lucent has developed a modular platform that lets companies select the components required to power their UC needs. Alcatel-Lucent provides an end-to-end solution, offering SIP endpoints, such as IP phones and softphone applications, as well as network infrastructure, such as switches, routers, media gateways, wireless access points and much more.
Business edition caters to enterprises of varying sizes
The OpenTouch Business Edition is the core VoIP/UC component of the Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch suite, and is offered in two different versions: the OTBE 500 and OTBE 1500. The main difference between the two models is the number of users, devices and multimedia services supported on each server. Both platforms are managed via an identical Web-based interface.
The OTBE 500 supports up to 500 users with a total of 1,000 devices, including IP phones, tablets, PCs, smartphones and video equipment (SIP-based). These devices offer telephony, instant messaging, presence services, video and Web conferencing and much more.
Messaging services with the OTBE 500 include up to 500 voicemail boxes with a total of 300 hours of voicemail storage, which equals about 0.6 hours of voicemail storage per user and a total of 500,000 system-wide voicemail messages. The OTBE 500 can support up to 32 remote sites, along with survivability services.
The OTBE 1500 targets larger companies and supports a total of 1,500 users and up to 3,000 devices, again including IP phones, tablets, PCs, smartphones and video equipment (SIP-based). The OTBE 1500 offers services similar to the 500 -- telephony, instant messaging, presence, video and Web conferencing and much more. Messaging capabilities have been extended to support 1,500 users with 1,000 hours of voicemail storage (0.66 hours/user) and a maximum of 500,000 system-wide voicemail messages. The OTBE 1500 can also support up to 32 remote sites with survivability services.
The Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Business Edition is delivered on a VMware ESXi/vSphere 5.5 virtualization platform, powered by a 19-inch rack-based appliance server.
The virtualization platform offers several virtual servers, including the SIP-based communication platform that handles SIP-endpoint registration, management of IP phones and users; OpenTouch Multimedia Services, which handles all multimedia and Web-based collaboration features; and OpenTouch Session Border Controller, a highly secure software solution for SIP perimeter defense.
Communication server designed for large networks
The OmniPCX Enterprise Communication Server is the core component of the Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch suite. Designed for large enterprises, the OmniPCX is highly scalable, supporting up to 15,000 users per server, 250,000 users in an enterprise network or more than a million users in very large networks.
Depending on the configuration and requirements, the OmniPCX is available on Alcatel-Lucent media gateways, which are housed inside 19-inch custom-built chassis or various heights with multiple slots or a separate 19-inch rack-mounted hardware server powered by VMware ESXi. The server rack-mounted option uses selected HP ProLiant DL and IBM System X servers, therefore backing the solution with HP's and IBM's experience and server reliability.
As an enterprise-class product, the OmniPCX provides all the bells and whistles of an advanced UC system, including multiline telephony, speed-dial, call back, call history and more.
Multimedia services enable worker mobility
OpenTouch Multimedia Services is an application server that integrates real-time communications into devices such as desktop PCs, smartphones, tablets and other similar hardware.
With OpenTouch Multimedia Services users can share documents with guests, access business communication services from anywhere, conduct video conference calls and maintain contact regardless of location.
With the multimedia server, users with multiple devices can be assigned different routing profiles and take advantage of features such as rapid session shift between their devices, making them reachable anywhere and on the device best suited for their location.
Web conferencing is another powerful feature, enabling Web conference calls with guests, customers and partners via the Internet, using a secure infrastructure.
Session border controller provides robust security
The Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Session Border Controller (SBC) is placed on the boundary between the local enterprise network and the Internet. Its role is to protect the enterprise from outside VoIP attacks and provide secure robust access to OpenTouch SIP clients.
The SBC server can be used to terminate SIP service to the OmniPCX server or the business edition and provide support for up to 6,000 SIP audio sessions per server, allowing great scalability for large enterprises.
The SBC server can help organizations overcome complex Network Address Translation traversal issues, which tend to become a big headache for remote SIP clients and providers. The SBC server supports both VMware and Hyper-V virtualization environments, making it a very flexible solution with no operating system licensing requirements.
The SBC server offers various levels of security, including:
- SIP topology hiding, masking internal network IP addresses
- SIP stateful inspection to help prevent distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
- DDoS prevention for Layer 3 (Network Layer)/Layer 4 (Transport Layer)
- Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol support with the ability to encrypt audio and video streams
Service continuity can be guaranteed thanks to the support of multiple server installations, load balancing between a pool of SIP providers and other high-availability options.
Routers offer added network connectivity
The Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch suite uses OmniAccess routers/media gateways to provide connectivity to WAN/PSTN/ISDN services. The three OmniAccess enterprise services routers (ESRs) include compact, modular, and rugged, and support a variety of functions, services and environments.
For branch deployments, the ESRs are designed to provide all-in-one device services. Features supported include IP routing, VPN termination using IPSec protocol, HRSP/VRRP redundancy protocol support for load balancing and high availability, quality of service and much more.
The larger OmniAccess 5800 model has the added ability to run applications -- acting as a file server for files/printers -- provide IP telephony services and survivability services in case connection to the OmniPCX server is lost, and more.
Alcatel-Lucent is one of the few vendors offering complete end-to-end solutions for enterprises of any size. Its large portfolio includes VoIP/UC communication servers, IP phones, switches, routers, wireless access points and more, making it a strong candidate for enterprise and SMB customers alike.
Read more about Alcatel-Lucent's SMB portfolio.
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