22 November 2004 by Richard Chirgwin

Revamping Suite with HMP
System Solutions, a long-time supplier of telephony software, has taken the plunge and turned its attention to the world of IP telephony.

According to Ivor Livingstone, the company’s CEO, the move will open its MESSAGEmanager suite – which includes IVR, voice messaging, speech recognition, fax, SMS and other services – into the expanding world of business IP telephony.

Livingstone told CommsWorld that rather than redevelop the product set from scratch to support VoIP, the company decided to use Intel’s Host Media Processor as a gateway between its TDM-based heritage and the emerging IP telephony world.

Call control, he said, is very different in IP telephony, and would have demanded a considerable rewrite of software to support. While TDM switches are highly proprietary, the task of unravelling their behaviour is straightforward, if time-consuming. A third-party vendor like System Solutions would treat the switch as a state machine, and analyse the outputs it produced in response to different inputs.

The presence of competing standards also raised its head as a challenge.

Standards have “started to evolve – for example, SIP is very popular, but not a lot of the existing switch vendors support it. So we had to provide other flavours of IP telephony in our development project; the H.323 protocols, for example.”

Intel’s HMP had its feet in technology with which System Solutions was already familiar, having its own heritage in the acquisition of Dialogic some years ago. As a developer, he said, System Solutions found it relatively easy to use the HMP Global Call API to handle the integration to IP-based environments.

The developer, Livingstone said, uses Global Call to address the HMP hardware, and HMP provides the integration to the IP devices.

However, “validation against each of the switches – the Ciscos, the Alcatels, the Avayas – that’s challenging.”

While traditional TDM environments carry a lot of the features System Solutions is offering as software, Livingstone said by concentrating on its own capabilities, the company has been able to offer competitive features sets.

The more open world of IP telephony gives the company the opportunity to do things that don’t fit easily into traditional telephony systems, he said. “There’s a tremendous opportunity to develop productivity applications on top of telephony. These go beyond cost savings: you can embody IP telephony into all sorts of applications, far further than in traditional telephones.”

Livingstone said the expansion of System Solutions into the IP telephony space will expand its overseas opportunities, and also the scope of partners the company can work with. This is enhanced, he said, by the company’s work with presence servers and its ability to act as a media gateway.

Presence products, Livingstone said, create opportunities to work with companies whose traditional business is in data networking.

As for media gateways, he said, System Solutions is now in its third generation of product while he