Zultys killing it in mobile integration

The latest update to the Zultys Mobile™ application (v4.0) extends existing tools like real-time Presence, Instant Message (IM), Presence Notes, Single Number Contact, Call Handling and more right to your Android for increased productivity, enhanced customer service and cost savings.

Users can now log into call group or operator roles from their Android phone, allowing these power users to actually step away from their desk without handing the baton to coworkers to answer their calls for them. Inbound contact center agents (or in Zultys-speak, “ICC agents”) and receptionists can handle incoming calls as if they were still at their desk.

Parked calls are now visible on the app, so mobile users can pick up and park calls as if they are in the office, making it much easier to handle calls between users taking advantage of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) capabilities of the MX system and their colleagues in the office.  Similarly, full visual voicemail functionality is added with the ability to set and record voicemail greetings, view deleted messages folder, access group mailboxes, create voicemail-only replies to internal users, and call people back from the voicemail screen.

ZultysMobileAndorid

Requirements include Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or 4.x (Ice Cream Sandwich or higher), and the latest MX software build (9.0.4 at the time of writing).  External (off-network) users should be on 3G at a minimum.

Solving Conference Calling

  1. Cold Fusion.
  2. CO2 emissions.
  3. Conference Calling.

Three of the most intractable challenges of modern science that also start with the letter “C”. For decades, humankind has struggled to fight energy dependence on fossil fuels and radioactive waste products, reverse global warming and the destruction of the only habitable planet we know of, and to get three people on a phone call at the same time.

We can all sleep a little easier now, as Mitel’s UC solution for conferencing has cracked the business collaboration code.  Mitel’s MiVoice Conference Phone makes three- or even four-way calling  dead simple. Just touch an icon, and dial a number to make a call.  Then, touch a second icon, dial a number, and the call is automatically joined.  If you want a fourth person on the call, well, repeat the process. No feature codes, no complicated sequence of events, no secret handshakes, combination of button presses or whispered passwords.

Did I mention it runs on Android, features incredible quality 22kHz Wideband Audio, integrates with a built-in browser to web applications, hosts native apps such as Dropbox, OpenOffice for Microsoft Office doc integration, WebEx, and Join.Me, supports an HDMI video output for presentations, has USB connectivity for connecting your PC, features 16 microphones with a 12′ 360-degree audio pickup radius, and of course provides amazing Mitel Unified Communications connectivity?

 

Mitel MiVoice Conference telephone

Mitel MiVoice Conference unit for innovative, enhanced audio, web and video conferences.

Mitel MiVoice Business 7.0 (Mitel 3300, MCD) Released

The newest release of the Mitel MiVoice Business – variously known as the Mitel 3300 and Mitel Communications Director, or MCD – promises to have a lot of great enhancements for customers enrolled in ExtendaCare or that are enrolled in Mitel Software Assurance (SWA).

Hyper-V Support.

While we don’t have a release date as of yet for the Hyper-V support (this feature is coming with a future v7 SP1 release), the news that Mitel is supporting Microsoft Hyper-V for their flagship voice platform this year is huge news.  Mitel has been VMware-only since 2010, establishing an early lead in this space.  However, many of our small and medium sized business customers are taking advantage of Microsoft’s very inexpensive Hyper-V platform instead of VMware products.  This move will undoubtedly help Mitel compete against Microsoft Lync and create a bigger gap with competitors in this segment of the market such as Avaya, Cisco and Shoretel that are still stuck selling company-branded hardware to customers.

VMWare Lead Extended.

Mitel is extending its lead in virtualized voice with VMWare, a technology Mitel pioneered.  While vSphere/vCloud v5.5 support was introduced with MiVoice Business v6 SP2, now the Small Business package that combines the base call control, MiCollab server and Mitel Border Gateway in a single .ova file has seen its capacity expanded to 250 users, up from 150 users.  In addition, the full size Mitel MiVoice Business can support 5,000 users on a single instance, up from 2,500.  VMware Site Recovery Manager is now supported for scenarios in which a data center instance fails, requiring a failover to a backup data center of the phone system and all of the UC applications.  Temporary call control can be handled by a local gateway so there is no interruption to telephone call handling.

Mobile Phone Integration (“Twinning”) Got Better.

Mitel now lets us group up to 4 devices together for simultaneous ringing and handoff.  This means a user could have a deskphone, a mobile phone app, and a softphone put into a single dynamic extension number.  Callers can just dial a single number and the user is able to juggle calls between devices, handoff calls between devices without putting the call on hold, and provide an easy, seamless way for clients to get in touch.

Call Center Improvements.

As you may know, Mitel is making a big push into the contact center and call center.  They have overhauled improved silent monitoring, coaching, barge-in and steal features on the MiVoice Business v7, making it easy for supervisors to, well, supervise.  In addition, the MiVoice Business is now shipping with the ‘Enhanced Ring Group’ option for assigning ACD-type routing of any type to a collection of Mitel phones, SIP phones, outside devices, analog phones and pretty much anything you can think of.

Other Enhancements

As usual with a large release, there were a lot of small changes that nonetheless with delight someone.

  1. Stream music on hold from your network to your phone system
  2. Simplify phone deployment for phones that are for hotdesk users
  3. Simplified user service configuration for faster moves, adds and changes
  4. Enhancements to very large systems (>10,000 users)
  5. Alarms on backup failure and longer error logs
  6. Multiple keymap templates per telephone
  7. Faster configuration automation for new installs

Overall, we are pleased with the upgrade and hoping to see SP1 soon so we can start talking to all those Hyper-V shops that have been left out in the cold by nearly all of the major telecom equipment manufacturers.

In Memorium: Inter-Tel Axxess

May 30 is the end of the line for the Axxess system.  We have hundreds of customers that are still using the system, and have tried to reach out to as many organizations as we could since production stopped in 2011.

We address what all this means to customers here so this post is just my musings on what made this such a great system.

Basically, this system was years and years ahead of its time.  Built on a common, open programming language (C++) instead of the oddball proprietary code of the competition made a world of difference when it came to desktop and software integration with the phone system.

This led naturally to the Open Architecture Interface (OAI).  This interface would be called an API today, and shows that Inter-Tel had an amazing vision for the product that continues today in the Mitel MiVoice Office (former Mitel 5000 and Inter-Tel 5200/5400/5600). Inter-Tel was able to build up an exciting ecosystem of partner companies that could use the OAI to communicate with the Axxess.  A whole ecosystem flourished years ahead of the App Store and Google Play.

The Mitel MiVoice Office is backwards compatible with Axxess and even predecessor Axxent telephones from 1991 without shortchanging users on features or capabilities. It is amazing that some of my customers have had the same phones on their desk for 20 years across three different systems with three entirely different architectures.

One reason that Mitel and Inter-Tel were a good cultural fit was shown throughout this Axxess sunsetting process.  The MiVoice Office was made compatible with all this old stuff from the Axxess, including computer telephony integration software and old IP phones that were more like beta versions given how unreliable they were at the time. I am shocked that they are as committed to their customers as they are, when all of the competition discards systems regularly and mercilessly, leaving their customers in the lurch.

One thing that my technicians at least miss with the Axxess are the hot-swappable cards.  You could be pretty rough on the system and yank out components without turning anything off or otherwise disrupting operations.  VoIP systems have fewer hardware components and generally are far more reliable, but they certainly do not like to have physical components changed out while the power is on.

I think a lot of competing systems today, such as the Shoretel system, actually owe a great deal to the Axxess’ innovative architecture.  The primary advantage they had competing against the Axxess (besides a world-beating marketing department that ran circles around dear sweet Inter-Tel) was processor redundancy.  The new systems used an IP architecture while the Axxess relied on a TDM backplane – so there were several points of failure that IP-based systems just would never have.  However, if you took all of the ShoreGear boxes and stuck them in a chassis instead of an equipment rack, you would basically have a late model Axxess, with T1 cards, IP cards that supported fixed numbers of stations, and analog cards for FXS and FXO ports (think fax machines and traditional phone lines).  In fact, both systems share a weakness that continues to this day: voicemail and call control (on the Axxess 512 and ATM, at least) that runs on a Windows server with all the attendant headaches and vulnerabilities as well as familiarity and popularity that entailed.