Switchvox 5.5 - Sneak Peek!

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Switchvox 5.5 - Sneak Peek!

I caught the tail half of Digium's Tristan Barnum's AstriCon session. Tristan Barnum is the Director of Product Marketing for Switchvox at Digium. In her AstriCon session, Tristan stressed how she never ever tells what Switchvox is up to and certainly not what features to expect.

"Switchvox 5.5 is due out the first quarter of the year [2012]. I've never said anything like that ever, but we're very confident that we will have a new release and it will be called '5.5'. I'm even confident enough to tell you what quarter it's ending up in."

She then explained how they are usually very forthcoming with features, and not forthcoming with release dates, but this time they have it reversed. Tristan was pretty tight lipped as to what "exact" features are forthcoming. She did however drop enough hints to read between the lines.

She said support for "contacts" will be improved. She mentioned Active Directory, phone books, mobile contacts and how to integrate them all. Tristan said, "5.5 will have some more extensive and improved contact management. We're going to be consolidating some of these things."

The next thing Tristan said is that they are making a bigger move "up market". Rather than focusing on smaller Switchvox appliances they are going to go after larger organizations greater than 400 seats. They are going to improve how you manage it so it fits better into larger organizations.

One really interesting question by David Michels (which I was thinking as well), was, "why do you insist on calling it an SMB product [Switchvox SMB]?". After all, the product now is hitting multiple hundred seats. Tristan essentially responded that there is one version of Switchvox (unless you count Switchvox SOHO), which simplifies things, but that they're not married to the name Switchvox SMB. She said a name change is not likely at this time. Though she did say as Switchvox gets bigger they could address the name.

The next question was an obvious one since Tristan hinted at stronger "contacts" features. An audience member asked if Switchvox 5.5 would feature Exchange integration. Tristan diplomatically said, "Um... Unfortunately, I've said everything I can say about 'contacts'. So... {nervous laugh} Sorry.". But her body language and nervous laugh gave it away. I can almost guarantee Exchange integration is coming.

It's ok you sort of let the cat out of the bag, Tristan! smiley-smile As a Switchvox fan, this is indeed a huge news. You probably wanted to save it for launch. But now you will get Switchvox fans excited when they read this article and anticipate and look forward to the 5.5 launch. If I'm wrong I guess I will have to contact The O'Reilly Factor's body language expert Tonya Reiman to see where I went wrong. Of course I will owe you one for predicting something incorrectly leading to some Switchvox fan disappointment. I have an idea... Give me a sneak peek at 5.5 for me to review and to coincide with the lunch. Seems like a fair deal, right? smiley-wink

The other thing that seems to hint at Exchange integration is discussion in another question about using IMAP synching for deleting voicemail. Enterprises that have Exchange often don't use or deploy IMAP and prefer to use Exchange's proprietary protocol for email and voicemail deletion. An audience member pointed out that with Cisco CallManager when you delete a voicemail from email, it automatically deletes it from the voicemail system as well.

Tristan responded, "We definitely recognize for some more Microsoft integration with Switchvox." Seems to me like they're going to support voicemail synching with Exchange Server in 5.5, but perhaps I'm reading too much into her comments. If so then I guess I owe Tristan two favors.

She did mention Switchvox Notifier (image above) a plugin for Microsoft Office which offers Outlook integration including the ability to call Outlook Contacts and an integrated voicemail player. But larger enterprises often shy away from Office or Outlook plugins in favor of centralized server-based features. Plus, many enterprises may have Exchange Server but have users using Macs running Microsoft Entourage or even other email clients. Not to mention Switchvox Notifier wouldn't work on mobile devices, so I'm pretty sure they are looking at strong Exchange integration so these features, such as voicemail delete sync work without the need for a plugin.

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