VMware, Mitel Collaboration Creates Virtualized VOIP Appliance

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

VMware optimized its core virtualization engine to process voice data instantaneously, recognizing the zero tolerance for latency in the real-time application. Unified communications vendor Mitel will first release its Mitel Call Directory in virtualized appliance form and follow with additional applications, helping customers get the benefits of virtualization for their voice systems.

VOIP communications vendor Mitel has collaborated with virtualization giant VMware to create a virtualized appliance version of its Mitel Call Director VOIP solution.

By offering the VOIP solution as a virtualized appliance, IT managers can now include voice in their server consolidation efforts, the companies told Channel Insider.  

According to Mitel’s Stephen Beamish, vice president of business development, virtualizing voice has been a tricky problem because of the need for quality of service and real-time execution. People notice when a packet is dropped in voice, he told Channel Insider, because they miss part of the phone call. VMware agrees the problem is a big one.

"Real-time applications require the data to be processed immediately," Parag Patel, vice president of alliances at VMware, told Channel Insider. Patel said that VMware had to make some improvements of its own, optimizing its core virtualization engine to respond to and process voice data instantaneously, in order to make the Mitel virtualized appliance possible.

"There is no room for latency whatsoever," Patel said. It’s a problem that took 14 months of development and testing to solve, he added.

But solving the problem of virtualizing voice enables a host of benefits that can be available now for voice applications. They include disaster recovery, easier management and total cost of ownership reduction while at the same time enabling users to continue to enjoy the benefits of unified communications such as "presence" (being able to see whether other users are online or not), secure chat, and tele-collaboration, among others.

About 75 percent of Mitel’s revenues come from its indirect channel, and the company claims a strong market share and installed base. Because of that, Mitel will provide a migration path that enables them to move from a box to a virtualized state using a zero cost method, Beamish tells Channel Insider.

"We have a huge number of customers running solutions on an old Mitel VOIP box," he said. In addition to the migration path, Beamish said that Mitel can now IP-enable legacy telephones.

Mitel will initially release its Mitel Call Directory as a virtualized appliance on March 1. Following that release, Mitel will be rolling out a series of applications for conferencing and collaboration capability, including Unified Communicator Advanced that includes desktop video collaboration.

"We are going to virtualize all the business applications that we use today, and that will include video for collaboration and softphone capability," Beamish said

Beamish said that four customers in the United States are currently using the solution and one customer in London.

Mitel and VMware plan a Webcast on Feb. 17 to launch the appliance to partners and customers.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com