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ESI IP Server 900: IP-centric, IT-friendly

TMCnews Featured Article


November 02, 2011

ESI IP Server 900: IP-centric, IT-friendly

By Sandra M. Gustavsen, Analyst, Business VoIP


ESI’s (News - Alert) forthcoming IP Server 900 is an IP-centric system with direct integration for IP phones and SIP trunking; the 1U rack-mount device fits well into an IT environment and supports up to 128 IP ports (512 IP ports with up to three additional 1U expansion units) or a maximum of 864 extensions, including analog and digital devices. ESI IP Server 900 shares most of the same functionality as the earlier ESI Communications Servers, plus some new features such as Find-me (five alternate numbers), an option for Meet-me Conferencing and T.38 fax support. Read more below and visit www.gbusinessvoip.com for more about IP phone systems currently in the market.


Overview:

Estech Systems Incorporated (ESI) will introduce a new IP telephone system in early 2012 called IP Server 900, a native IP system with direct integration for IP phones and SIP trunks that eliminates the need for additional VoIP cards or SIP trunking cards. IP Server 900 joins ESI’s family of five earlier IP-enabled Communications Servers (ESI-50/100/200/600/1000) that have varying levels of capacity 52 to 816 extensions and shares the same features and functionality, but provides a scalable IP-based system that can start small and grow to 864 extensions.

We recently contacted Stephen Wing, vice president of Telco Ltd., a Phoenix-based phone system dealer who has been with ESI for over 10 years, to get his thoughts on the new IP Server 900. Said Wing, “ESI has really hit the ball out of the park with this one. They have taken the user-friendliness, tight integration, and unique features of the Communications Server line that our customers rave about, and included and expanded upon them in this new product that was designed from the ground up to be a dream for IT managers and users alike. One of the great things for us is that, while the system has excellent expansion capability to handle most business’ needs, even our smallest customers can have big-business phone features without the high cost or learning curve one would expect with such a powerful platform.”

  • Hardware: The IP Server 900 is designed to fit well in an IT environment. The Master Control Unit (MCU) is a 1U, rack-mount device with a slide-out design that makes addition or replacement of components easy. A solid state design is more reliable as there are no moving parts. The system utilizes Flash memory technology, and software is upgraded locally or remotely, and phone firmware is automatically pushed out to all on-site or off-site IP phones.

 

  • Scalability: The IP Server 900 Master Control Unit supports up to 128 universal IP ports (64 ports natively and 64 additional with an add-on module) for ESI phones, SIP phones, softphones, IP door phone and RFID readers, SIP trunks or the company’s ESI-Link channels used to connect multiple ESI phone systems together over a WAN. The MCU also houses eight expansion module slots for analog CO lines, analog stations (fax or phone), digital T1/PRI lines and digital phones. Capacity is increased by adding up to three 1U expansion units for a total of 864 extensions, including up to 512 IP phones and 192 trunks with the following analog and digital maximum capacities in any combination (1,104 total call processing ports): 192 CO lines, 176 analog phones/devices, 192 T1 channels and 184 PRI channels.

 

  • Standard Features: The ESI Communications Servers and the IP Server 900 support popular business telephony features and include a built-in voice mail and auto attendant capability as part of the Master Control Unit. IP Server 900 supports 32 voice message channels, 864 station mailboxes (1,000 guest mailboxes, 20 cascade mailboxes, 20 group mailboxes), 140 voice message storage hours and a six level/100 branch auto attendant.  Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and ACD monitoring are also standard features with licensed options for supervisor and agent on-screen call control and reporting. ESI recently added support for a convenient mobile twinning capability that pairs an extension with an alternate number such as a cell phone, so incoming calls ring both phones; if the call goes unanswered, it is routed to the desk extension’s mailbox.  The twinning feature also allows the user to transfer the call to another extension, voice mail, a department or other external number from the twinned device (such as a cell phone) using a key sequence. All ESI systems have a one-button spoken help feature with a system tutorial and verbal user guide for feature programming and operation; the help key can be used while on a call to execute conferences, transfers and more.

 

  • Advanced Applications:  ESI offers a number of more advanced applications that can be optionally added such as unified messaging and the company’s Visually Integrated Phone (News - Alert) (VIP) communication management tool (on-screen call control using Microsoft Outlook), Mobile Messaging (notification of a voicemail message to an e-mail inbox) and Presence Management Suite (for door access control, employee presence indication and attendance logging). For multi-site networking, Esi-Link technology uses the WAN or the Internet to network ESI phone systems into one IP-based system.  ESI Media Management archives audio and video data such as from call logging/recording, live/recorded video and building access events; Media Management is a card option for the Communications Servers, but is built into the IP Server 900 and easily license-activated. The ESI Cellular Management Device allows inbound/outbound cell phone calls to route through the user’s desk phone via Bluetooth technology, providing convenience while the user is in the office and enabling advanced handling of cell phone calls such as call recording and call transfer to other extensions.

 

  • Unique features: While the new ESI IP Server 900 shares most of the same functionality as the earlier ESI Communications Servers, there are a few capabilities which are unique to the IP Server 900, namely an eSATA port for storing media recordings (from the license-activated Media Management capability) to a third party hard drive, T.38 fax support, a Find-me feature that forwards calls to up to five alternate numbers and an option for Meet-me Conferencing that supports up to 32 participants per conference. The IP Server 900 also supports browser-based programming and administration, SNMP network monitoring, and an API (Application Programming Interface) to allow integration with third-party applications such as SalesForce.

 

  • Phones: IP Server 900 and the earlier ESI Communications Servers have several phone options, including two new desktop phones that offer functionality over and above the company’s earlier Feature Phone. The ESI 60 Business Phone and the ESI 40 Business Phone (digital and IP versions) have large, adjustable, backlit displays and built-in headset jacks, and the ESI 60 adds a high-definition full-duplex speakerphone, paperless label buttons and visual voice mail. ESI systems also support the company’s earlier 24-key Digital Feature Phone and the ESI Cordless Handset, standard analog sets and third party SIP stations, including planned support for high definition (HD) SIP phones and video phones such as Polycom’s VVX 1500. A forthcoming ESI 250 Android (News - Alert)-based color, 7-inch touch-screen desktop phone is due out in early 2012.

General Availability: ESI IP Server 900 is currently in beta testing and will be generally available by early 2012 in North America. Pricing is not yet available.


Sandra M. Gustavsen, business VoIP analyst, contributes her Business VoIP column to TMCnet. To read more of Sandra's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell







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