David Tebbutt, Teblog

A cheeky little outsider from Spain has been quietly snitching large unified communication (UC) deals from under the noses of major competitors.

(Reminder: a major benefit of UC is the acceleration of business processes, especially when participants are separated geographically.)

When I was invited to meet with Dialcom, I was amazed that it was still in business. In 1982, I was using Dialcom for my Telecom Gold email account. As it turned out, this is a completely different Dialcom and one that’s keen to change its name. It is in the process of transitioning to the more meaningful Spontania, which happens to be the name of its UC software suite.

Yep, that’s right, software suite. No hardware at all. Not even an appliance version, it just goes on a Linux server while ActiveX or equivalent controls are stuck in the clients. Clients can be Firefox and Internet Explorer, plus a number of mobile phones and PDAs. Flash, Macintosh and iPhone will be supported later this year, as will SIP. RIM’s BlackBerry isn’t yet on the radar.

The company has around 100 customers, mainly in Europe, but is beginning to pick up some decent deals in the USA. It targets medium to large organisations as a rule and plans to serve Europe through major systems inetgrators and ISVs. (It sells direct in the USA.) Vertical markets include health, energy and pharma’. If someone would care to deliver the functionality as a service then Dialcom would definitely be interested.

IT managers generally don’t warm to the idea of ’their’ network being used for video or unified communications generally. But this stuff can be throttled back to suit the circumstances. Bob Johnson, the company’s president and COO says, “256k to 512k would support seven or eight people.”

At the desktop, we’re talking about video, audio, application and file sharing, remote control, collaborative whiteboarding and instant messaging. And it works. Its adaptive bandwidth monitoring optimises performance to fluctuating network conditions. Images downgrade reasonably gracefully.

It’s pure IP, as you might expect. But the firm has all sorts of edge connectivity bits so that companies with legacy switchboard equipment can still benefit. It also interoperates with H.323 video and can be incorporated into Outlook and Notes.

Price-wise, the Linux-based system, probably comes in below the competition, especially when you take into account that installation is the work of a few hours at most. 25 concurrent users comes in at just under $40k. Obviously, the more users, the lower the per-seat price.

It’s an interesting take on the UC business and it’s one that will satisfy the demands of the majority whose needs are straightforward. They want to see each other, talk to each other, show each other stuff and exchange files during the session. All this, and more, is available with barely any upheaval for the IT department.

I think I’ll close with an “olé”.

Unless you’d like to tell me what’s wrong with the idea…

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