Mitel, Madge Team to Ship Voice, Data

PBX maker Mitel Corp. is joining with switching hub vendor Madge Networks Inc. this week at NetWorld+Interop 96 to introduce a way to ship voice and data traffic across a single campus network.

Mitel's Networked Voice and Data (NeVaDa) architecture is designed to let companies use a single private branch exchange to distribute calls to other buildings over a converged voice/data net anchored by Madge hubs, said Dan MacDonald, Mitel's product marketing manager for enterprise networking.

The network architecture involves linking a call control module in Mitel's high-end PBX with one or more of Madge's MultiNet Ethernet switching hubs across a fiber backbone.

Key to NeVaDa is a new Asynchronous Transfer Mode/Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) module, called the LBT-155, which was jointly developed by Mitel and Madge. Installed in each Madge hub, it cuts a 16M-bits-per-second swath out of a 155M-bits-per-second fiber stream between buildings to provide a priority path for voice traffic, explained John Freeman, senior consultant for Decisys Inc., a Sterling, Virginia, consultancy.

Based in Kanata, Ontario, Mitel holds the No. 5 position in U.S. PBX market share. The company is trying to stand out by focusing on computer- telephone integration (CTI).

Officials hope NeVaDa will showcase CTI going beyond its classic application of screen pops, in which an API translates telephony events into PC commands to synchronize the arrival of a telephone call with the arrival of data about that caller on a user's desktop.

But to achieve such a goal requires a fair amount of network horsepower. First, users must purchase Mitel's SX 2000 Light voice switch, which the company dubs a fiber-distributed PBX because its functional parts are split up along a fiber backbone. Then users must install the LBT-155 ATM/SONET module in each Madge hub running along the multibuilding backbone.

Conventional workgroup hubs can then come off the backbone -- for example, on separate floors of the main building -- to move LAN traffic to desktop PCs.

Freeman cautioned users that the Mitel design of a segregated voice path along the multibuilding backbone is not a standard voice-over-data network protocol. "But until you get a standardized way of prioritizing [ATM] voice cells, you've got to come up with a proprietary solution," he said.

Users also will have to weigh the potential benefit of eliminating duplication among voice and data infrastructures and their separate staffs against the cost of an ATM/SONET implementation, Freeman added.

To help this process, Mitel also claims an important side benefit with NeVaDa that is one of the PBX world's Holy Grails: the ability to manage the PBX on a Simple Network Management Protocol-based network management application. NeVaDa installations will include software running on Hewlett- Packard Co.'s OpenView to manage voice elements, according to MacDonald.

Field trials of NeVaDa will begin in June, with availability slated for early fall.

Mitel: +1 (613) 592-2122.

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