RADvision rolling out software for converged IP voice, video nets
RADvision next month will announce a software version of its Enhanced Communications Server aimed at companies that want to bring IP voice and video onto their data networks at the same time.
ECS is designed to let users run a converged IP voice and video network from a single PC server, instead of running separate voice and video networks. The software can run on any Windows NT-based PC server, as opposed to RADvision's embedded hardware version of ECS, which requires its own chassis and is aimed more at service provider networks.
RADvision currently ships ECS as a compact PCI module for its ViaIP chassis-based voice/video product. Cisco resells ViaIP, except for the ECS card, as part of its IP/VC 3540 videoconferencing system.
The ECS software will compete with voice and video gatekeeper products from Cisco and VCon.
The ECS software acts as an H.323 gatekeeper and provides standard call control and videoconferencing services for IP phones and conferencing units on an IP network.
According to RADvision, the server could be deployed as a video-enabled IP PBX, allowing IP phones and video stations to connect to it over a LAN. It could also be attached to a legacy PBX through a voice-over-IP gateway to connect circuit-switched voice and video users with IP users.
ECS software includes a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) database where end-user information and network topology data is stored. The LDAP database also allows end users to have access to third-party LDAP-enabled resources, such as e-mail and voice mail servers, through ECS.
"One thing I like is being able to get at [ECS] through a Web browser; that's a huge advantage," says Robert Bach, manager for communications services at V-SPAN. The King of Prussia, Pa., company, which provides outsourced voice and videoconferencing services to enterprise clients, has been beta testing ECS.
Bach says older voice-over-IP and video gatekeeper products he's used from RADvision have been hard to manage because a technician is required to set up the device or server.
The ability to control network voice and video policies through ECS is another nice feature of the software, he says. ECS can be used to create bandwidth policies for voice and video traffic, or for making system usage rules on an individual or group basis. Individual and group phone options are also managed this way, such as voice and video call forwarding and caller ID.
ECS could eliminate the need to have separate phone and videoconferencing systems on the same network, says Andrew Nilssen, an analyst with Wainhouse Research. This could save users money and resources, he says.
The price for a 3,000-user ECS server is around $30,000 -- excluding the price for IP phones or video units. The product will be available in mid-March.