Toshiba’s IPedge ES for the Small Office

by Sandra Gustavsen

Toshiba extends its IPedge business communications portfolio with an entry-level model for small businesses. The new IPedge ES offers much of the same built-in functionality of the company’s established IPedge IP-based communications solution – unified messaging, mobility, IP networking, SIP trunking and more – but in a more compact and less expensive hardware platform suitable for the very small office. IPedge ES software is hosted on a small-footprint Intel NUC server and comes bundled with four trunks and eight telephones, expandable via license activation to 12 trunks and 24 telephones.

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. Toshiba has offered Linux-based IPedge EM, EC and EP hardware appliances for differing capacity levels. Today, IPedge software can also be pre-installed on a Toshiba-provided server running VMware or purchased as software-only to run on a customer-provided VMware-certified hardware for a more efficient use of hardware and computing resources. Virtualization technology also allows IPedge to co-reside with Toshiba’s contact center and reporting software for additional hardware and operational savings.

The new IPedge ES adds a fourth and smaller footprint server to the existing IPedge server sizes.

  • IPedge EM for up to 1,000 users per server or instance
  • IPedge EC for up to 200 users per server or instance
  • IPedge EP for up to 40 users per server or instance
  • IPedge ES for up to 24 users per server

Price and simplicity were the main drivers behind the development of the new IPedge ES. While the earlier IPedge EP is also designed for smaller businesses (the under 40-user market), Toshiba explains that dealers and customers were requesting an even “lower point of entry.” The new IPedge ES is priced as much as 50% less than the EP model for certain configurations, and licensing is transferrable to one of the larger-capacity IPedge systems, enabling a smooth migration for future growth.

On the simplicity front, IPedge ES uses the same (familiar) IPedge administration tool, Enterprise Manager, and is configured like other IPedge native systems (the ES model does not utilize VMware technology). Additionally, IPedge ES can serve as a cost-effective solution for branch offices within a multi-site network and can also be used effectively as a redundant (backup) solution for business continuity.

Like the higher-capacity IPedge models, ES can function as an IPedge App Server to add the advanced IPedge applications (unified messaging and mobility) to an earlier Toshiba Strata CIX digital/IP telephony system. All IPedge models come with Toshiba’s UCedge Essentials client software which is freely downloaded and installed on an Android or iOS smartphone or to a Windows PC or Mac computer, giving all users access to a good complement of the UCedge productivity features – most importantly, the convenience of using a smartphone as an office extension (larger capacity IPedge EP, EC and EM systems support the full UCedge license for additional UC capabilities; read more here).

The new IPedge ES appliance is rolling out in conjunction with Toshiba’s latest IPedge software Release 1.7.4 which adds new capabilities for all IPedge customers. These include a new, more secure dongle offline licensing option (eliminates the need for public internet access when licensing a new system), new QoS troubleshooting tools (to assess call quality issues) and programming improvements that help speed up system installation. Some new R1.7.4 features are specific to IPedge EP, EC and EM systems such as improved calendar integration for the built-in Meet Me Audio Conference capability and encrypted voicemail and fax storage for the built-in IPedge Messaging application.

Toshiba hints that other significant developments are in the works and coming in the first half of 2017, including investments in geo-redundancy and survivability for its VIPedge cloud telephony service, additional hybrid cloud options and new pricing models. Stay tuned.

Note: Since the writing of this, Toshiba Corporation announced abruptly it would “wind-down” its Telecommunications Systems Division (TSD) starting immediately, including all telecom sales in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.