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.