Product Reviews

Unified Messaging Made Ultra-Comprehensive

InternetPBX allows users to access voice messages, emails, faxes, and more from a single Web interface.

To many people, unified messaging is defined as “the ability to access all data, at any time, from devices ranging from PCs and pagers to cell phones.” COM2001.com’s InternetPBX product comes very close to meeting this definition.

Unlike some unified messaging products, InternetPBX is a PBX replacement, not an add-on. If you implement this product, you’ll no longer need your PBX phone system.

Like many competing systems, InternetPBX is a combination hardware and software solution. What sets it apart is the hardware choice. The minimum configuration includes a rack mount, dual-Pentium III Dell PowerEdge server with 1GB of RAM, dual-SCSI hard drives, and DAT tape backup system. The system also incorporates Microsoft BackOffice 4.5, dedicated PBX hardware, and software.

While InternetPBX is configured professionally by one of COM2001.com’s resellers, the interface is intuitive as it uses an MMC Snap-in for all administration. The InternetPBX client software installs a nifty tool bar that allows you to control your little part of the phone system. With this tool bar, you can check your voicemail, call people, place calls on hold, create conference calls, and set the console to “Do Not Disturb.” Another feature is the ability to create phone pools such as a tech support feature on the phone system. Using the console, you can check who’s currently logged into the pool (logging into the pool will forward tech support calls to an available technician), see who is currently talking to customers, and join the pool.

One of the features that really blew me away was InternetPBX’s Web interface. COM2001.com’s developers rewrote Microsoft’s Exchange Outlook Web Access (OWA) to support the different data files used by InternetPBX. What this means to your users is that a single interface now can be used to access not only their e-mail, contacts, and calendar, but their voice messages and faxes as well. In fact, using the new OWA interface, you can have InternetPBX call a contact, call your cell phone, and then connect the two.

With this single Web interface, InternetPBX users can access their voice messages, email, faxes, contacts, and calendar.
With this single Web interface, InternetPBX users can access their voice messages, email, faxes, contacts, and calendar. (Click image to view larger version.)

Text-to-speech is another InternetPBX feature—you can call the system and request that it “read” your email messages to you. You respond to these by having the system record your reply and then attaching it to an email as a .WAV file, or by converting the text to speech.

While InternetPBX isn’t the cheapest solution around, you get what you pay for. The system is solidly built from both the hardware and software sides. And the fact that the hardware is fully tested with the software is a bonus. InternetPBX delivers everything that it promises.

About the Author

Barry Shilmover, MCSE+I, MCT, owns Shilmover Consulting Services, a Microsoft Solution Provider specializing in Windows NT/2000 and Exchange 5.5/2000 solutions. He has co-authored books that include Windows 2000 System Administrator’s Black Book and Exchange 5.5 Exam Cram, both from Coriolis Press.

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