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FMC: It's All About Features, Says DiVitas

DiVitas Networks has been one of the leaders in enterprise fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), going back to the time when FMC mostly meant the ability to transition from a cellular network to voice over Wi-Fi without dropping the call. Now, DiVitas's CEO calls that capability "table stakes."I had a chance to talk with Vivek Khuller just as DiVitas was preparing to announce the release of V2.0 of its client and server. He said that seamless cellular-Wi-Fi hand-offs, which have been touted as, among other things, a way to save enterprises money, are less important than the ease of use and functionality of the applications and services that actually run on the wireless device.

The real advantage of DiVitas's server, which bridges the cellular and Wi-Fi worlds, isn't so much the ability to enable one client to traverse the demarc between the two, says Khuller: It's the ability for the DiVitas server to control PBX features in both environments. As a result, DiVitas supports "mid-call" PBX features, such as adding callers to a conference call that's in progress. This has been "not an easy problem to solve," Khuller said. "Doing this successfully is a lot of work."

In addition to PBX integration over cellular, V2.0 includes features such as visual voice mail, IM, presence, contacts, and social networking within the DiVitas client.

On the server side, DiVitas has made a significant change, releasing V2.0 as a software load for a generic server, where previous iterations had been hardware appliances. Khuller said the company did this because off-the-shelf servers continue to improve with Moore's Law, and because it helps DiVitas streamline its own inventory and supply management. The downside, of course, is that DiVitas had to put more effort into ensuring that the software was easy enough to install, via a Web-based wizard.

DiVitas was one of the pioneers in FMC systems that help enterprises span the boundary between cellular and Wi-Fi voice systems. This feature always was oversimplified as a way to keep calls on the corporate network, saving on cellular airtime charges. Various people tossed out various numbers -- 30% or more -- that they claimed represented the share of enterprise cellular calls that were made to people within the campus. It's never been certain that such calls really represented a major opportunity for cost savings, and with its new release, DiVitas is targeting something we have been hearing whenever we ask enterprises what it'll take to completely cut the cord: It's all about PBX features.