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ADTRAN's New UC Suite

ADTRAN, which has mostly been known as a networking and infrastructure vendor, announced its NetVanta Unified Communications product suite. Building on its NetVanta 7000 Series IP PBXs for SMBs, ADTRAN introduced four new products as part of its NetVanta Unified Communications Solutions. NetVanta Unified Communications is a family of UC solutions scaling up to over 2,000 users per server. The underlying code is the same for all of these products--the only difference is the licensing.As Matt Brunk mentioned in his nojitter article, the NetVanta Unified Communications Server is a software-only application that works with ADTRAN and third-party TDM and IP PBXs, supporting up to at least 2,000 users. The new NetVanta Business Communications System is a hardware and software bundle for up to 100 users, combining a NetVanta 7000 Series all-in-one IP PBX with the NetVanta UC Server software. The NetVanta Enterprise Communications Server is a software-based IP PBX, with all of the UC Server functionality supporting 75 to at least 2,000 users. Lastly, the NetVanta Business Application Server uses the capabilities that are in all versions to provide a version for standalone capabilities such as IVR, and notification using the product's ODBC database access capabilities to create customized communications-enabled applications with Line of Business applications.

The NetVanta Unified Communications Server is an adjunct to any IP or TDM PBX, whether from ADTRAN or a third party. Based on a Microsoft Windows platform, it adds capabilities such as unified messaging, fax server, IVR, one number service, rules-based call control and redirection services, call back or click to dial, notification services, auto attendant, mobility capabilities, Active Directory integration, and non-programmatic graphical service creation environment, which is available down to the user level. Noticeably missing are presence, IM, and web/video conferencing/collaboration. IM and presence are expected to be added in the near future via integration with Microsoft OCS. Other UC capabilities will be added in subsequent releases.

I spoke with one of ADTRAN's initial Unified Communications Server customers, Don Reece of Pembina Trails School Division in Manitoba. You can listen to my podcast with Don at the UCStrategies site. Pembina Trails was originally a combination of two school districts, and includes 34 schools, five administration offices, and other facilities. Reece was looking for a way to solve various communication problems, such as having phone systems that were end of life, unreliable, expensive to maintain, and providing only basic functionality. The phone systems were purchased individually by the schools and there was no central control. Staff had different services available to them, since there were different license costs for each service, and only the people who really needed a service could get it.

The school district runs Active Directory and wanted something that could tie in and leverage Active Directory, and also support the district's VoIP phones. Reece also wanted a solution that would provide everyone with all of the capabilities available on the system, providing "equity for users."

The school district implemented Adtran's NetVanta Unified Communications (UC) Server. Because the Unified Communication Server is SIP compliant and hardware neutral, the school district can use the servers, phones and gateways of its choice. Working with Microsoft Exchange Server, Notes, other IMAP4 email client servers, NetVanta UC provides full unified messaging with Blackberry integration. In addition to the "fast, simple wizard for installation and deployment," the district can do its own moves, adds and changes, and use the "intuitive interface for creating applications." Moving forward, Reece notes that NetVanta Unified Communications will be the communication director, helping to integrate all of the district's communications. The division also uses the NetVanta VoIP phone system to broadcast messages as a Public Address system, to broadcast audio and video to classrooms and buildings.

Going forward, Reece notes that "Unified communications will be the core of our communications." He is working on implementing SIP paging to page teachers in classrooms using UC instead of a PA system, and hopes to add SIP paging using video to enable things such as presenting videos from the district superintendent in the classrooms.

Reese claims that the ADTRAN solution supports a more powerful and feature rich system while saving the district over $200,000 in annual operation costs, and at a much lower capital cost than a traditional system. That can pay for an awful lot of classroom supplies and field trips for the students!