February 13, 2012, 4:59 PM — Contact centres that want to take advantage of virtual desktop technology have another option from a unified communications company.
Mitel Networks said Monday it has integrated its Contact Centre Solution with VMware's View thin client and virtual environment.
One of the advantages of a virtualized contact centre application is that agents can use a softphone, Alan Zurakowski, the Canadian company's director of corporate business development said in an interview.
"One of the big attractions I'm hearing from contact centre owners is they don't have to supply a physical hard phone (to agents)," he said. "The capex savings for them is very attractive now that they have the option with the integrated voice on the soft client. The price of a USB headphone is so low it's basically disposable."
The news comes five months after Mitel announced it and VMware had found a solution to the problem of running unified communications in a desktop virtual environment. The company's UC stack has been approved for running from VMware's vCentre in the data centre since 2010, but that didn't give softphone access on the desktop.
When it made the desktop announcement last August, Mitel said the UC solution would be commercially available by the end of 2011. It was ready for select customers to test by then, Zurakowski, but general release was held back until the contact centre integration was finalized.
Pricing depends on the number of endpoints needed. Zurakowski said the Unified Communicator Advanced softphone itself could cost $50 apiece, but there are volume discounts.
In addition to being able to plant a softphone on the laptops of remote staff, Mitel's solution could also work in other areas. For example Zurakowski said, temporary virtual desktop access could be given to corporate applications for contactors. In this scenario, the IT department would give a VMware View licence to the visitor, who would also get a softphone to have local phone access. At the end of the assignment the View username and password would be cancelled.
The Mitel server solutions only run on VMware. "It's not on our radar" to port to other hypervisors, Zurakowski said, because of VMware's market share. However, the softphone will be certified later this year to run on other thin clients for Windows and Linux PCs.