VoIP helps mobilise and protect Mitel users

Mitel launches a slew of enhancements and products designed to mobilise the workforce

Enhancements and additions to Mitel's product lineup are geared toward letting network professionals use VoIP technology to improve employee mobility, business continuity and disaster recovery.

Among the enhanced products is version 4.0 of Mitel's Teleworker solution, which now allows network engineers to prepare the enterprise for an increase in telecommuters. Mitel has expanded its Teleworker solution with collaboration and unified communications applications. Plugged into any broadband connection, the Teleworker solution now provides support for Mitel's Your Assistant Softphone without the need for a VPN connection.

It also provides the capabilities of a softphone, combined with powerful enterprise features such as presence and availability, secure Instant Messaging (IM) and file transfer, video, data sharing, and full collaboration over the enterprise-grade Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP) and Mitel 200 ICP for smaller business environments.

"[These additions] are important because they enable our customers to use a softphone with any broadband connection to get connectivity without a VPN requirement," said Dave Spence, Mitel's solutions manager for mobility.

Mitel has also added Quick Conference to its portfolio of collaboration tools, with a goal of helping small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) avoid costly hosted conferencing services. Quick Conference scales up to 32 participants, or four conference calls, each with eight participants. Connection to the Mitel 3300 ICP occurs through a SIP interface. User access to the system is via a telephone user interface (TUI) or a Web-based graphical user interface (GUI).

Meanwhile, enhancements to Mitel's second-generation Mobile Extension solution extends the availability of PBX features and functionality to mobile, home and wireless devices. The Mitel Mobile Extension enterprise mobility solution includes Calling Line ID to the mobile or remote device, call transfer, hold and conference codes, and the ability to establish a quick conference from any mobile device over the corporate network.

In a workaround solution that lets organisations reduce roaming and long distance charges, Mobile Extension can also be used in conjunction with enterprise hot-desking to move phone calls seamlessly from cell to desk phone in any enterprise location. The user simply logs in to the nearest Mitel IP phone and takes control of the phone, making it his extension number, complete with his user profile.

Among Mitel's new products announcements is the Mitel wireless LAN stand, which converts an IP phone into a wireless device. An example of how this technology might come into play is a construction site where users don't want to run wires and install a PBX because it's a temporary setup.

"The LAN stand can plug into any network connection, so if you're unable to run wires, this wireless module would allow you to get up and running really quickly," Spence said.

One enterprise user, an insurance company located in the southeast of the United States, is considering the Mitel product lineup as part of its business continuity plan. The company is anticipating the need to scatter employees in case of any type of catastrophic event that threatens to bring business grinding to a halt, even if it's only for one day.

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"We offer an end-to-end solution that means employees don't have to be at the office," Spence said. "This means they can stay at home longer and beat traffic …. As far as business continuity, in the event of an outage, employees can work from home."

IDC research analyst Nora Freedman views IP-based unified communications tools as key components that companies should be looking at these days. "No vendor wants to lead with fear and uncertainty and painting its prospect into a corner, but they need to show that they have the tools [so] that if something catastrophic happens, these are the benefits."

For the last couple of years, according to Freedman, the attitude toward IP unified communication tools has been: "Can we really rely on the credibility of this technology? Can we guarantee that it's more than just cool [and] there are benefits that can be achieved?" But she said that "it's passed the muster test … we are starting to see more of the disaster recovery story."

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