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Siemens launches own unified comms server

The communications company says OpenScape UC Server makes it less reliant on Microsoft, but admits the server product doesn't yet support some of Siemens's own apps
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Siemens has launched its first complete unified communications software suite, OpenScape Unified Communications Server.

On Monday the company said the launch — which means Siemens unified communications (UC) customers no longer need to use Microsoft's Office Live Communications Server product as well — was "a significant step forward in [Siemens's] ongoing transformation into a software-oriented company".

"With the introduction of OpenScape Unified Communications Server, we have reached a significant milestone in our transition from a traditional VoIP manufacturer to a top global software and services company focused on a new era in the enterprise communications market," said Thomas Zimmermann, chief operating officer at Siemens Enterprise Communications, on Monday.

When it goes on sale from the end of April, the OpenScape UC Server suite will initially comprise the new OpenScape Voice Application (formerly known as HiPath 8000); the new OpenScape Video videoconferencing portfolio; and OpenScape UC Application version 3.

OpenScape UC Server will come in three flavours: a single-server Medium Edition configuration for up to 1,000 users; a multi-server Large Edition configuration for up to 100,000 users (which only provides full UC functionality for up to 20,000 of those users); and a Hosted Edition, which contains additional application components aimed at the requirements of service and hosting providers.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Siemens's director of global marketing for large systems, Graham Howard, said the HiPath brand was no longer as relevant as it once was. "The brand was associated with the path to IP," he told ZDNet.co.uk. "Now everybody's doing voice over IP. This will not be a sudden discontinuity, but [the HiPath brand] will slowly migrate to the new OpenScape Voice Application."

Howard admitted that Siemens "hasn't got quite all of [its] portfolio working on this new server at the present time", citing its messaging and contact centre applications as examples. However, he said that — while Siemens's new UC applications would work happily alongside products from Microsoft and IBM — the new server product meant "we don't have to use Microsoft".

"We are going to go and compete with Microsoft, absolutely," said Howard, who added that Microsoft's communication server products were not voice-centric enough. "Most of business these days is entirely in voice," he said. "We believe voice is the most natural and effective form of human communication."

Siemens claims its new OpenScape Video portfolio is the industry's "first single-vendor, unified videoconferencing [package] integrating high-definition video, desktop PC video, voice and presence into a single… communication environment". It includes three high-definition systems and a PC soft client.

"We're not going to compete with Cisco's Telepresence rooms," conceded Howard. "This is the democratisation of video — we can transparently interwork video in a  conference room facility with executive desktop HD video as well as PC-based software video clients, and also with voice calls. The codecs in here are intelligent codecs [that] automatically adjust the bandwidth for each user so you get the bandwidth appropriate to each user."

Howard claimed that the Large Edition configuration of OpenScape UC Server could, when used with OpenScape Video, "theoretically" support 100,000 video users at once.

Siemens' new product will be on show this week at the CeBIT technology show in Germany.

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