Computer-Telephony Integration should regain its buzzword status next week as vendors line up behind the Java Telephony API (JTAPI) - a specification that promises to unite applications for the computer, the telephone, and the World Wide Web - at the Computer Telephony Expo (CT Expo) in Los Angeles.
Sun Microsystems will announce JavaTel, its implementation of JTAPI. Lucent Technologies announced its own implementation this week and will release a developer's kit in the second quarter, with final product shipment in the third quarter.
JTAPI was developed by a group of companies including Sun, Lucent, Northern Telecom, Intel, IBM, and Novell. All are expected to introduce their own implementations of JTAPI soon.
Sun is positioning JTAPI as the migration path from Microsoft's and Novell's telephony APIs.
A Windows NT implementation of JTAPI may arrive soon, but not from Microsoft.
"Every day we get requests from third parties that want to implement JTAPI on the NT platform," says Bill Gogesch, the Java telephony project leader at Sun and a co-author of JTAPI. "It will be a competitive space."
Although Microsoft is a Java licensee and a partner to Sun's JavaSoft, Sun representatives say they know of no Microsoft plans for a Windows NT implementation of JTAPI. Microsoft will also be showing its own Telephony API (TAPI) 2.1 at CT Expo.
Like Java, JTAPI allows computer-telephony applications to be written once to run on many different platforms. The API is also intended to unify the servers, switches, PCs, and other components that have grown up around Microsoft's TAPI and Novell's Telephony Services API (TSAPI), Gogesch says.
JTAPI can be layered over legacy applications written for TAPI and TSAPI to create JTAPI applications that work with both. JTAPI also allows standard computer-telephony applications, such as those written for call centres, to be integrated with the World Wide Web.
Lucent will demonstrate JTAPI over TSAPI on its PassageWay Telephony Services product next week at CT Expo.
JTAPI was designed as a core with components for various applications, such as call control, layered on top, Gogesch says. This software architecture will enable Web applet developers to create JTAPI applets without reading a textbook on telephony first, he says.
"You can start simple and only add the complexity you need by bringing the extensions that you need," Gogesch says. "Other companies are already talking about embedded telephony applications. Java phones are enabled by this technology."
Meanwhile, Microsoft plans to demonstrate TAPI 2.1's features at CT Expo. Microsoft's TAPI had been expected to bring computer-telephony integration into the mainstream. TAPI shipped with every copy of Windows 95 and Windows NT, effectively giving it the market penetration of those two operating systems.
Another telephony-equipment giant, Ericsson, plans to demonstrate Microsoft's new version of TAPI at its own booth with Ericsson products.