Allworx Connect, a 3rd Generationby Sandra Gustavsen in Telecom
Allworx recently released its third generation of IP phone systems, the Connect series for small and mid-sized businesses. Connect systems incorporate a faster processor, and in combination with the company’s latest System Software 8.0, deliver functionality over and above earlier Allworx platforms. Businesses that deploy a Connect system can take advantage of native Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, increased network bandwidth, improved security, SIP video support and the latest Allworx mobility features. Perhaps most importantly, the processor improvements open up a “whole new playground” for development and support of next-generation capabilities into the future.
Allworx routinely solicits its own customers for feedback and commissioned an SMB survey by Hanover Research to gain insights into the perceptions, needs and requirements of smaller businesses. Responses indicated that smaller businesses are somewhat behind the technology curve, still ranking typical phone system features, such as 3-way calling, intercom and music-on-hold, as the most popular features being used today. However, many are beginning to realize that productivity applications like unified messaging, unified communications and mobility (smartphone and tablet integration) are the key to improving their business operation going forward.
It is these more forward-looking capabilities, and making these reliable and easy to use, that is driving the future hardware and software development at Allworx – all of which is engineered in-house.
Small Enterprise Focus
Allworx adheres to its mantra “intentionally small enterprise focused” by designing and developing all-in-one, affordable systems for the SMB market, specifically targeting businesses with 10-150 employees in a single site or up to 1,000 employees spread across multiple sites (Allworx solutions support up to 100 networked locations). Allworx systems are simple to install and maintain, with popular VoIP features built-in. Each Allworx server comes with a base number of users included; user expansion keys are purchased for more. Almost all the basic VoIP features are included with the server regardless of the number of users. There are no separate licenses required for auto attendant, voicemail or unified messaging (among other VoIP features) as is often required on competing systems.
Today, Allworx has some 25,000 customers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America (including some well-known companies like CBS and Orange County Choppers), selling its telephony systems indirectly through its channel partners. Additionally, parent company Windstream that acquired Allworx in 2011 sells an end-to-end managed service offering for SMBs called IP Simple that includes the Allworx phone system (as a rental) in combination with Windstream’s nationwide VoIP and data service. Allworx reports positive momentum via both sales methods – the external sales channel (Allworx dealers) and the internal sales channel (the Windstream IP Simple bundle). Windstream also offers enterprise cloud unified communications solutions from Avaya and Mitel for larger businesses.
Allworx Connect Highlights
Five Connect Models: The new Allworx Connect series includes five models designed for different size businesses with up to 20, up to 50 or up to 180 users per site and with varying requirements for simultaneous external calls (12, 30 or 60). Specifically the new models include Connect 731 (to 180 users), Connect 536 (to 50 users), Connect 530 (to 50 users, no analog ports), Connect 324 (to 20 users) and Connect 320 (to 20 users, no analog ports).
All-in-one Simplicity: As an all-in-one box solution, Connect (and earlier Allworx systems) are easy to install and maintain and come with popular telephony features built-in and no per-seat licensing for handsets, voicemail or unified messaging as is often required on competing systems. Additionally, Connect systems include native Gigabit Ethernet interfaces for faster network connections, full support for G.711u, G.711a and G.729a codecs for increased network bandwidth efficiency, HTTPS secure encryption for Web-based Allworx administration and SIP video support for video calling.
Productivity Add-ons: These more advanced capabilities are sold as separate licenses:
- Mobility: With the Allworx Reach SIP Mobile Application (a per-user license) downloaded to an Apple iOS or Android OS mobile device, users can make, receive and control calls, listen to voicemail, view call history and see the status of other Allworx handsets or Reach users via the mobile device. The Reach Link feature (only available for Connect servers) is a new device handover capability that keeps active calls connected when moving from a 4G data network to a WiFi network, or vice versa. Reach Link is built-in and license-activated per Connect server (no additional hardware or software is required).
- PC-based Call Management: The Allworx Interact application enables PC-based management of an Allworx phone. Interact “Basic” is a free version for viewing and answering incoming calls, while a “Professional” version requires a per-user license for activation and adds presence management, an Allworx directory, contact list search and call history for one-click dialing.
- Meet-me Conferencing: The Allworx Conference Center is part of the system software and can be license-activated per server to host, schedule and monitor meet-me conferences. The largest Connect 731 platform supports up to four concurrent conferences with a maximum of 30 participants across the four call bridges.
- Call Center: Allworx offers call center features such as automatic call distribution (ACD) and call queuing activated by purchasing software licenses per server. The largest Connect 731 platform supports 60 callers spread across 10 defined call queues.
- Business Analytics: Two business intelligence applications, Allworx View and Allworx View ACD, can be license-activated per server, providing real-time call data (Allworx View) and ACD queue status and agent information (Allworx View ACD) through configurable dashboards with threshold alarms and on-demand or scheduled reports. Data is consolidated for all networked servers in a multi-site configuration.
- Multi-site Networking: Allworx supports VoIP calling between servers at up to 100 sites and 1,000 users with uniform dialing, centralized voicemail and shared auto attendant, a global directory, presence status visibility and more across all networked locations.
All five Connect models are generally available now. For the time being, the Connect Series will co-exist with earlier Allworx systems, 6×12, 6x, 24x and 48x, which can be upgraded to incorporate some of the new System Software 8.0 features, including the Allworx Migrate tool for transferring data files between Allworx servers, an updated User Interface and a new management dashboard, to name a few. Existing customers that want to upgrade to Connect can take advantage of a new Allworx trade-in, trade-up program.