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BlackBerry users tie into PBX for unified communications

BlackBerry users tie into PBX for unified communications

Enterprise customers are blending cellular and corporate voice networks by linking their BlackBerry servers with the corporate PBX

Dell is running a MVS pilot of 30 employees. The ultimate goal is a comprehensive, unified-communications setup embracing voice, e-mail, instant messaging, Microsoft Live Meeting, and video conferencing, says Peter Swartz, director of IT for Dell's site and data-center services group. All that is at least 18 months away, however. MVS lets Dell create a single corporate phone number and voice mail in-box, and a "reach me anywhere" capability. "So, the Ascendent software is the interim step forward full unified communications," he says.

MVS was compatible with all three brands of PBXs used by Dell, and integrated smoothly with the BlackBerry user interface. With calls now going through the PBX, "we can leverage least-cost-routing where we have trunks available," Swartz says. One immediate and concrete savings: reducing or eliminating international roaming charges; traveling Dell employees can use a local cell account overseas and be reached as via a local call from, say, Dell's Round Rock, Texas, headquarters.

As at FSU, user expectations are changing dramatically. "One user said to me, 'I didn't realize how many important calls I missed during the day,'" Swartz says.

Robert Hankinson, technical sales manager with Cellhire Mobile Solutions, a British-based firm that offers global mobile services including BlackBerry on a rental basis, says he was surprised at the conference by RIM's new emphasis on voice convergence. "They're being very bold [with] that," he says. He thinks it will be technology that both enterprise users and RIM partners, such as Cellhire, will leverage. "You already have a good and trusted [PBX-based telecom] infrastructure," he says. "Now you're extending it through the BES to the mobile platform."

Hankinson forwards his office number to his mobile phone when he's traveling. With MVS, one number could follow him anywhere. In addition, it's all done without the need for decisions about, or investments in such things as Session Initiation Protocol phones or infrastructure.

"BlackBerry [MVS] sidesteps all this," Hankinson says. "It's already there [for messaging], so you can already use it [for voice convergence]."


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