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Collaboration suite bridges the Cisco/Microsoft gap

CallTower Inc. recently unveiled its latest hosted collaboration suite, which integrates with Microsoft Live Communications Server and Cisco CallManager.

Capitalizing on attention received by a recent agreement between Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to cooperate on real-time communication capabilities, San Francisco-based CallTower Inc. has rolled out its Live Communications Management Suite.

At last month's VoiceCon show in Orlando, Fla., Cisco and Microsoft announced a compatibility agreement that will allow Microsoft Office Live Communications Server and Microsoft Office Communicator to interoperate with the Cisco Unified CallManager.

CallTower, however, says it's bridging the gap between the two big boys' products with its recent announcement of the CallTower Live Communications Management Suite, which the company said delivers full integrated functionality in its hosted voice and data suite, including compatibility between Cisco CallManager and the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005. The addition of CallTower into a Cisco/Microsoft environment also adds a host of other features.

James Strohecker, CallTower's marketing director, said companies can now seamlessly add collaboration and use their existing PCs, phones and infrastructure across multiple offices without having to purchase new hardware and with no capital expense.

According to Strohecker, CallTower's Live Communication Management Suite breaks down the silos of communication with software-based capabilities that allow simple and effective communication while integrating seamless access across networks, applications and devices.

The Live Communication Management Suite features:

  • Telephony presence: Users can visually monitor whether a contact is using the PC and whether the telephone is on or off the hook.
  • Click-to-dial: This lets users dial any person in their Outlook contact list or corporate directory with a mouse click.
  • Escalate an IM to a phone call: An instant message session can be switched to a phone call with a click on an icon or contact name.
  • Call control: Users can place a desktop phone call, put a call on hold, transfer a call, and add third parties for ad hoc conference calling.
  • Click-to-conference: A mouse click can add contacts to a conference call using CallTower's conferencing bridge.
  • Caller pop-up notification: A user is notified of a caller's name and number by a pop-up window.
  • Missed call notification via e-mail: An e-mail message with the name and number of a caller is sent if a call is missed.
  • Setup and status on forwarded calls: Calls can be forwarded to remote offices, mobile phones, or voice mail.
  • Call deflection: Calls can be monitored and transferred to home, mobile, and hotel phones.
  • Phone tag winning: When a contact becomes available, the user is automatically notified and can connect.

Strohecker said the Live Communications Management Suite is part of a complete, secure, end-to-end voice and data suite that provides connectivity ranging from Cisco CallManager to the Microsoft Exchange Server to mobile devices and the desktop or call-center phone. Call Center Suite is part of CallTower's hosted services.

The CallTower suite is best suited for deployments of 20 to 10,000 seats, Strohecker said, and it is targeted mostly at small to midsized businesses that have struggled to combine various methods of communication or have been hesitant to install a PBX.

"Via a PC, users can make phone calls, place calls on hold, queue communications," he said, describing CallTower's suite as the "next generation of desktop integration."

A CallTower installation takes 45 days or less to be up and running, according to Strohecker. Adding a T1 line, which CallTower does at no added expense, is the most time-consuming part.

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