Unified Messaging: All Bonds Barred

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Today with the advent of the Internet and convergence, we see a sudden

increase in the use of electronically enabled networks to conduct business–not

just for e-mail, but also for actual electronic business transactions. Another

trend worth noticing is outsourcing the non-critical part of the work and

increasing focus on core competencies. This leads to a virtual enterprise

spread across the globe. Executives are constantly bombarded with time and

mission-critical information, most of which comes in the form of e-mail, voice

and fax messages. As telecommuters, offsite and traveling employees become more

common; companies are also struggling with the need to keep these mobile

professionals informed and in touch.


Unified messaging is the tool by which all message types–voice mail, faxes,

and electronic mail–are accessed and managed from a single interface. Whether

that interface is the telephone or an e-mail client application, unified

messaging ensures that all messages can be easily managed at a time from a

single list using a single set of management commands.

How does it work?

Unified messaging provides a single point of access to all the three message

types from virtually any communications device, be it telephone, personal

computer or Web browser through the Internet. In the user’s familiar e-mail

inbox, a unique icon identifies each message type. This single point of access

and control increases employee productivity while improving communications with

both customers and co-workers.


out of the office or on the road, users can access and manage all their messages

through the telephone user interface (TUI). Using TUI, users can dial into their

unified messaging system from any telephone and be able to quickly and

efficiently listen to and respond to any message waiting in their inbox. They

will be able to access and manage all the three message types with just one

phone call. The user can listen to their e-mail messages using text-to-speech

technology and respond to that e-mail message with a voice message. The users

can also listen to the header of their fax message, forward that message to

someone else, or even print it to the closest fax machine.


When in the office or on the road with a laptop, the graphical user interface

(GUI) allows users to view all their messages, voice, fax, and e-mails, from

their desktop computer or by dialing into the network using an Internet

connection. Unified messaging provides professionals with more flexibility while

traveling, improves employee productivity while in the office and on the road,

and gives companies the competitive edge they’re looking for.

Enterprise messaging has two different approaches–an integrated

client-based approach and the universal server based approach. In the integrated

approach, two or three distinct databases are maintained–one each for voice,

e-mail, and fax. Here, the unification process occurs at the client end. The

telephone and desktop interfaces access all message databases and presents the

messages to the user in a unified fashion, combined with either voice or e-mail.

In other words, the telephone and e-mail client or Internet browser access all

message databases and present the messages to the user through a common

interface, which could be a mobile phone, PDA or Internet.


UMS Advantage


One evident advantage of this approach is redundancy of messages i.e. the

availability of either of the messages (voice, fax or e-mail) independent of the

other. In a client-based implementation, voice and fax messages may be stored on

the voice messaging server and/or the e-mail server or local client store. So,

when communication between the voice messaging server and the e-mail server is

broken due to a network failure, users may still access all messages stored on

the voice server via the telephone. An additional benefit of this independence

from the e-mail server is decreased network traffic. When a subscriber calls in

to retrieve messages little or no network traffic is generated.

In the server-based unified messaging, all message types are stored within a

single message store, typically the electronic mail database. Here, voice and

fax messages are generated by alternate servers, but transported to and stored

within the e-mail server database.

This approach also has its benefits and shortcomings. This approach to

unified messaging simplifies administration of the messaging servers by storing

all messages in a single database. However, due to messages being passed between

servers, network traffic is increased. The other benefits come in message

addressing, by allowing users to address all message types using a single,

common, user directory.


The primary disadvantage of the server-based approach is the dependence on

one database for storage and retrieval of all messages. In the event of an

e-mail server failure or network failure, no messages stored on that server will

be accessible to the users. Another consideration of server-based unified

messaging is the requirement of an e-mail server, which supports integration of

auxiliary messaging servers (i.e. voice mail, fax mail servers) and storage of

those messages within the e-mail database. The primary e-mail servers supporting

these capabilities are Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.

Vendors bring all-in-one solutions to the marketplace in a variety of

configurations. Pricing will vary based upon the number of ports, number of

mailboxes, and functionality you need. So while the UM market is just beginning

to reach viability, you should determine what types of messaging you need to

support and to which devices the messages will be delivered (for example,

desktops, notebooks, PDAs, WAP phones).

Must-haves to Look for

Multiple message types–voice, fax or e-mail
Easy accessibility
Scalability–horizontal and vertical
Ability to add other computer telephony integrated applications
Capable of networking–multi-office and multi-location
Easy to administer
Open standard based platform
Choice to end-user–client- or sever-based unified messaging
The right vendor


Unified messaging is going to be the next big thing in the

telecommunications market. The emerging unified messaging industry is fast

becoming the buzz in the telecom industry and it will change the way you do


India Trends

Messaging has had a rather slow acceptability in India, more so due to the

cultural reasons than technical ones–the closeness we look forward to in

business dealings–the importance of personal relationships in getting the work

done. People prefer to talk rather than leaving messages behind. Further, the

implementation of fax messaging and unified mailbox is also limited to

enterprises in the IT business.

Messaging has a strong potential as India integrates more with the global

economy. Acceptability would improve as the need to connect effectively and

efficiently the ‘key business affecting employees’ increases. Benefits of

networking these messaging systems would be more evident as enterprises spread

out and need to connect cost-effectively within and across the time zones.


Does your organization needs unified messaging–ask yourself the following:

n Are there a

large number of remote and traveling employees within your organization?

n Do you
send/receive a large number of faxes?

n Do you
send/receive a large number of confidential faxes?

n Do you waste
valuable employee time sorting and delivering faxes?

n Are you
currently using a stand-alone fax server?

n Is your company
located in many offices around the city or around the world?

n Do these
offices need to be networked together?

n Have you
outgrown your current voicemail system? Will we outgrow it in the future?

n Are you looking
for a complete communications solution?

n Have you
determined who our users are? (In-office or road warrior? Light, medium, or

heavy messaging users?)

n Is there profit
potential for your company by implementing unified messaging? Will you see a

rewarding return on investment?

n Do you want to
be able to access all of our messages, voice, fax, and e-mail, via the Web?

n Can unified
messaging increase your productivity by making your team more responsive to

customers and co-workers?

n Will unified
messaging increase your competitive advantage?

If your answers are mostly ‘Yes’, then …… its time for unified



Vivek Porwal, national marketing manager, (messaging and tele-conferencing)

Tata Telecom

Trends that Will Drive the Storage Management Software Market

Latest research from IDC has noted a 74 percent increase in the storage management software market in India, from $8.5 million in 2000 to $14.8 million in 2001. This market will be fuelled by the development of Internet data centers (IDCs), the greater awareness of the need for data recovery solutions, opening up of banking and insurance sectors, and demand for 24x7x365 business continuance. Talking about the key market trends beyond the year 2002, a market research company suggests that the demand for storage management software will be triggered off by the drop in prices for storage devices, which is expected to stimulate the purchasing cycle. Also, large enterprises are expected to improve their business processes by investing in enterprise applications that will encourage demand for storage devices and storage management software.

IDC says that the storage management software market has attracted a significant amount of interest with recent worldwide events and local governments encouraging businesses to invest in disaster-recovery solutions. There is a uniform sustained interest in storage management software solutions, but expectedly growth rates are lower in countries, such as Australia and Singapore, where purchasing of storage capacity and management software have been integrated into normal business IT practices and budgets over the years. 

As for vendor standing, according to IDC, in the Asia-Pacific region EMC topped the overall storage software market, almost doubling its revenue base between 2000 and 2001, to reach a market share of 33 percent. Veritas and Computer Associates followed behind in close succession to each other, with market shares of 15 and 10 percent, respectively. IDC states that strong growth rates were recorded by Veritas (56 percent) and Legato (55 percent), as well as StorageTek (61 percent) and Sun Microsystems (67 percent), albeit from a smaller revenue base. Looking forward, IDC says, the competition in the market will become more intense, particularly from these two players, who have both cited storage software as a key focus area from 2002 onwards.