Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Telecommunication Systems Division introduces new software for its IPedge IP-based communications solution that targets organizations with as few as four users to as many as 1,000 users at a single location. The new Release 1.7 improves network performance with an upgraded Linux Operating system and incorporates advanced security software that protects against vulnerabilities, threats and attacks. Additionally, IPedge R1.7 includes free system trial licenses of key applications related to unified messaging, unified communications and contact center. Current IPedge, ACD and UCedge users can also now flexibly transfer existing licenses between sites to save cost.
Toshiba first launched IPedge in 2011 as a single server IP communications system and an alternative to the company’s earlier Strata CIX converged IP/digital telephony platform. Today, IPedge runs multiple applications on a single Linux-based server running VMware for a more efficient use of hardware and computing resources; this includes call processing, unified messaging, unified communications, mobility and centralized administration, along with optional contact center software and reporting.
Moreover, Toshiba’s IPedge software is the base software for its VIPedge hosted/cloud service that was introduced in 2012. Customers use the same phones and endpoints, experience the same functionality and access the same administration software whether they deploy the system on-site (IPedge), select the monthly subscription service (VIPedge) or utilize a mix of the two solutions in a hybrid configuration. Any new software developments, such as the recent R1.7, effectively “kill two birds with one stone” since the improvements will benefit both deployment types (premises and cloud). The Linux updates and security enhancements have already been applied to VIPedge (the new virtual licensing service is not relevant to the cloud offer).
On Board with Hybrid Cloud
Recent market studies highlight a growing preference for hybrid cloud-premises implementations like the Toshiba IPedge and VIPedge interoperability (more on this below). A 2015 IDG Enterprise survey finds the number of small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and enterprises planning to implement a hybrid UC&C model is rising, citing that 54% of enterprises and 42% of SMBs in their survey are preparing to do so in the next two years (compared to 30% and 27% using a hybrid approach today). On-site equipment will remain an important part of many business communications deployments into the future.
Because Toshiba uses the same software stream for both its on-site telephony system (IPedge) and its cloud-based UC service (VIPedge), including an IPedge Application Server version that works with Strata CIX, the company is able to offer hybrid solutions that are often a perfect fit for its installed base of IPedge systems, Strata CIX converged IP/digital systems and even earlier Strata CTX digital systems.
In June 2014, Toshiba introduced Hybrid Cloud Networking among locations utilizing the VIPedge cloud service and locations with on-site telephony system installations. Toshiba customers with multiple offices can flexibly mix the two solution types (cloud and premises) and take advantage of feature transparency across all locations regardless of the deployment. Toshiba’s VIPedge Application Service followed in September 2014, making its Unified Messaging (UM) and Unified Communications (UC) applications available “as-a-service” for Toshiba customers with a Strata CIX or upgraded Strata CTX system (these apps are already built into the company’s IPedge software).
In 2015, Toshiba announced common management across its cloud and on-site solutions with the latest version of its Enterprise Manager browser-based administration tool. And, in January 2016, Toshiba announced a set of enhancements to its UCedge UC client application, including a softphone for iOS devices, customizable buttons and other new features available to customers with either a premises-based or a cloud deployment.
So, while many of Toshiba’s competitors are in the process of developing solutions for a hybrid approach, Toshiba is already there – and has been for a while. Toshiba’s hybrid networking capability and cloud-based applications ensure that its customers, even those with an earlier Strata CTX digital telephone system, are not left behind as technology moves forward. Regardless of the deployment, Toshiba customers will be able to add the latest capabilities and expand their solution.
Down the Road
Look for additional IPedge software improvements in 2016 that will benefit Toshiba’s installed base of IP-PBX systems as it remains a huge opportunity in terms of software and support contracts and the potential to integrate these as part of a hybrid cloud migration. Toshiba will also introduce new hosted applications in 2016, including meet-me conferencing, contact center and disaster recovery delivered from the cloud. Stay tuned.