Editor's note: This article is part of a buying series on unified communications. The features in this series describe the evolution of UC and its use cases, as well as 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 Unify UC products.
Unify's UC platform, the OpenScape suite, offers a wide range of enterprise communication options. The main components include: OpenScape Voice, media server, unified communications, mobility and video, Xpressions for messaging, contact center, and session border controller.
Unify also offers small to medium-sized enterprise services that include OpenScape Enterprise Express and OpenScape Business. Unify has also created a range of IP phones, both wired and wireless, and software clients. The phones allow users to take advantage of the features offered by the Unify UC systems.
Voice system features sizable scalability
OpenScape Voice is the foundation of Unify's voice service. It provides carrier-grade scalability and reliability, supporting up to 100,000 users per node, making it suitable for international enterprises with offices worldwide.
OpenScape Voice runs under the Linux operating system and has been built to support VMware-virtualized environments, enabling server consolidation and hardware independence. Customers can use any hardware platform that is certified by VMware and meets the resource requirements of OpenScape Voice, while the system's administration is performed via a Web-based graphical user interface.
OpenScape Voice offers different deployment models depending on the size of the organization and capacity required. One of the smaller deployment models includes OpenScape Voice and a number of other applications in a virtualized environment under a single server. This model can support up to 5,000 users. It's a cost-effective service since limited hardware is required, but has a single point of failure.
Enterprise customers that require zero downtime with large scalability should consider a deployment model running two instances in a redundant two-node cluster, set up in an active-active mode. In this model, if one of the nodes fails, the remaining node assumes the load of the failed partner and provides uninterruptable service across the enterprise. Currently, Unify only supports a cluster of two physical nodes or a cluster of two virtual nodes. Mixed environments -- physical and virtual nodes -- are not currently supported.
The OpenScape Media Server provides tones, announcements and conferencing services. It is scalable with the ability to install multiple media servers to meet an organization's needs. The OpenScape Media Server can also act as a flexible alternative to hardware multipoint control units for video conferencing.
UC, mobility, video and messaging provide a rich set of features
OpenScape UC is the main unified communications engine that provides users with multiple ways to collaborate. Employees can connect with each other or customers via a desktop client, Web client, voice portal or mobile client.
Advanced UC applications, such as Unify's mobile client, work with OpenScape UC to provide rich mobility features. With the mobile client, users can perform video calls, access presence services and conference calls, set their preferred device, and much more.
The flexible per-user licensing lets organizations buy the exact number of licenses required to cover their needs. This helps lower costs and ensures complete use of all purchased licenses. Depending on a user's role, functionality can be added or removed with a few clicks via the administrative Web interface.
OpenScape UC can also be integrated with Microsoft Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes and Google, so users can easily organize a meeting, conference call and more.
Video conferencing is also supported. With the OpenScape desktop video conferencing software, users can conduct multiparty video conferencing. Full HD video rooms are also supported, along with HD-capable desktop clients, delivering a high-end, cost-effective video conferencing experience.
OpenScape Xpressions is a Windows-based messaging application server supporting 64-bit Windows Server 2003 R2 SP2 Enterprise, Windows Server 2008 Standard/Enterprise and Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard. Xpressions supports enterprises' daily messaging needs through flexible and easy-to-manage services, including voicemail, fax, email and Short Message Service.
Xpressions can support voicemail for up to 20,000 users and Unified messaging for 10,000 users, making it a scalable service for small and large enterprises. Advanced features include text-to-speech and speech-to-text conversions, message access via Web browser, and support for mobile and remote users.
Contact center features visual workflow management
OpenScape Contact Center is designed for mid-to-large contact centers supporting up to 7,500 active agents in a multiserver deployment model, or up to 1,500 active agents on a single server.
The contact center service offers integration with OpenScape Voice and the rest of Unify's UC suite. Its advanced software handles routing of incoming calls and redirection to the correct agents.
Unify's Agent Desktop allows multichannel interaction handling of calls, extending the contact center to experts and decision makers no matter where they are. This helps improve first-agent contact resolution and the overall customer service experience.
The Contact Center Enterprise Manager desktop allows managers to have a visual and customizable console that helps them administer users and resources, design multisite routing and queue processing flows. It also provides real-time monitoring and reporting across all incoming channels, plus much more.
OpenScape Contact Center includes the Design Center software for managers, which provides a visual workflow of incoming calls. With Design Center, managers can create and edit call flows and use a number of components -- such as time of day, source, destination routing and multisite routing -- to create a highly sophisticated design.
Unify contact centers can handle inbound and outbound calls.
Extending services beyond network boundaries
The OpenScape Session Border Controller (SBC) is a cost-effective and secure service that extends voice and UC services to the mobile, home and remote office user. The SBC is available as a virtual appliance supported under the VMware platform, which helps reduce hardware costs and maintenance.
OpenScape SBC can handle SIP trunk connections to telecom providers and interface with Skype Connect, while at the same time providing secure VPN services to mobile and remote users. The SBC supports up to 50,000 remote users and a maximum of 8,000 simultaneous SIP sessions.
Since the SBC can support several services -- such as voice, VPN, network segmentation, SIP and RTP protocol inspection, and firewalling -- up-front costs are reduced dramatically, as it simplifies the network and WAN infrastructure requirements.
OpenScape SBC can terminate multiple SIP telecom providers and perform least-cost routing to further reduce communication costs up to 80%.
Services for small to midsized enterprises
The OpenScape Enterprise Express targets midsize businesses with up to 2,000 users and offers the following packages: OpenScape Voice, UC, Xpressions, contact center and attendant console in a single orderable package.
Unify offers multiple base packages that start with 25 and 200 users, though base packages do not include the contact center. If a business expands and requires additional licenses, it would need to order the appropriate package for the additional users.
Connectivity with SIP providers is possible with the OpenScape SBC. Access to PSTN/ISDN telecom providers requires OpenScape Branch appliances, such as the 50i or 500i, which also offer site survivability services in case the main call manager is offline.
The OpenScape Business service targets small to medium-sized enterprises with one or multiple sites and a total of 2,000 users. OpenScape Business is well-suited for organizations that would like to slowly transition from a classic telephony system to an IP-based UC service, as it can coexist with the existing telephony infrastructure.
Depending on the organization's size, customers can select from four hardware OpenScape Business models: X1, X3, X5 and X8, for up to 500 users, or choose the server-based system OpenScape Business S, which is designed for larger installations with more than 500 users.
All hardware models support a variety of voice interface modules enabling connectivity with telecom providers via ISDN BRI/PRI lines. SIP trunks are fully supported, and the maximum number of trunks depends on the model selected.
Large enterprises need to ensure OpenScape fits their needs
OpenScape offers two flavors of UC platforms: UC Smart and UC Suite.
Depending on the system configuration and users, the UC software can run under the UC Booster Card and UC Booster Server, for up to 500 users, or can be included in the OpenScape Business S server-based solution that supports up to 1,500 users in a VMware environment.
Both UC Smart and UC Suite offer an extensive amount of UC services via desktop software that integrates voicemail, softphone, presence, messaging and more. Mobility is made easy via Unify's myPortal app, which supports all popular mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and other similar devices.
Unify OpenScape offers a wide range of services for enterprises of all sizes. OpenScape's ability to support 500,000 users makes it a top option for very large enterprises. However, larger enterprises need to ensure the product can cover all their requirements.
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