Cubix and StarVox Team Up to Develop Network-Telephony-in-a-Box
Cubix Corp. (www.cubix.com) and StarVox Inc. (www.starvox.com) have partnered to make the implementation of voice over IP technology easier. The venture will develop what the companies refer to as a "Network-telephony-in-a-box" solution.
Cubix Density Series server will host StarVox’s StarGate family of product services, integrating traditional PBX features with public switched network (PSTN) stability over a corporate WAN. The aim of this solution is the seamless convergence of voice and data traffic.
"Quality of voice is a major stumbling block for IP telephony products, and there is a lot of reluctance because you just can’t count on good quality," says Ken Landoline, area director of telecom research at Giga Information Group (www.gigaweb.com). "There are companies using VOIP now, but without any kind of fail-safe system, that use is pretty limited."
IP telephony has been plagued by bandwidth issues. As packet traffic gets heavy, bandwidth becomes scarce and voice quality becomes poor. "When you involve the Internet in telephony, it’s hard to know exactly what will happen," says Jim Zakeski, vice president of marketing at Cubix. "Too much traffic tends to slow voices down, and then they have to play catch up, and voice quality is unacceptable."
Unlike conventional solutions, which offer only VOIP and dial-tone functionality, Network-telephony-in-a-box provides quality of service by automatically rerouting poor quality calls to a corporate public switched telephone network (PSTN), thus ensuring reliability. The switch to PSTN is automatic, according to preset quality levels.
The Cubix-StarVox solution consists of three servers: a telephony services API (TSAPI) server, a traffic server and a management server. The TSAPI server, an interface between the end user and the IP telephony system, is what the user encounters when speaking over IP. The traffic server handles all the users and the I/O traffic. The management server helps administrators monitor the other two servers, including how much traffic is moving though the system, the status of the chassis and the power supplies. This server also helps administrators manage the other two servers.
Network-telephony-in-a-box requires that a server equipped for this solution reside on both ends. The users simply talk to each other over the IP connection between the servers. One obvious advantage is that it cuts down on long-distance charges.
Once the system is configured for VOIP, it can be used for voice traffic between any server that has the correct IP address to reach it. At first, this will most likely be used by companies with several branch offices, because that is where it is most cost-effective. As IP telephony in general spreads and more solutions become available, the use will be broadened to enable IP telephony with servers outside one organization.
"This solution is a real departure from traditional PBXs, where we have these big proprietary boxes that no one can get into," Landoline says.
Instead, Network-telephony-in-a-box runs on Windows NT and has an open architecture so developers can get in and change the code.
Landoline asserts that the market is likely to head in the direction of Network-telephony-in-a-box solutions. "Like any good idea, it will be copied to the extent that it can," he says. "Some of the major players, such as Lucent, Nortel and Siemens, are going to want something like this in their shopping bags, too. Whether they develop it themselves or acquire it remains to be seen, but they’ll all have a similar solution."