Citrix Gateways

VoIP 2.0 Application Enablement

Many of us use Citrix Presentation Server but you may not know the company has been building up their access business to allow users to get access to their applications over the web and IP phones. This strategy has been announced for a while now but I wanted to share the news on how the company is making strides.

The company sees the IP telephony application market being the size of the voicemail market. In other words they see the need for applications to be sold with every IP PBX.

In order to facilitate their growth in this space they have launched a Voice Office suite of applications that allow customers to receive information on their devices. If you don’t recall, Citrix purchased Net6 a while back and this division is now the Gateway division of Citrix. They have partnered with all the major PBX players and are now promoting the fact that the IP phone can talk to anything on the network. Telecom industry veteran and Citrix spokesman Gordon Payne tells me you need a single Citrix Application Gateway to allow this functionality to take place. With the gateway in place you can aid knowledge workers, allowing them IP phone access to databases or anything else for that matter.

You can do some rally interesting things with this gateway such as zone paging, sending broadcast alerts, having access to an express directory services, visual voicemail and conference management.

"The goal of Citrix Gateways is to not compete with telephone manufactures but to enhance phones and phone systems." according to Payne.

The company has just introduced Smart Agent and click to call is the first application that works with this software. Smart Agent sits on a client PC and silently monitors Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer applications looking for phone numbers. When it finds one, it adds a hyperlink allowing users to click to dial. This is similar to what a company called Teleo showed me in my office a number of months ago. Teleo was acquired by Microsoft a few months back.

The difference between what Citrix does and Teleo is that the latter has a VoIP service while the former uses the enterprise PBX to initiate calls. There is some nice integration going on behind the scenes with Citrix.

Personally I think the killer application here is the CRM/informal contact center market.

Citrix is looking to many of their corporate partners such as SAP in the hopes of telephony enabling their entire suite of applications.

Payne says we will see many more Smart Agent applications in the future.

The company plans on selling vertical solutions and Hospitality Voice Services is one of the first verticals the company now offers. If you recall Net6 sold a customized hospitality system to Wynn Las Vegas in May. Actually Avaya resold the Net6 solution. You may recall, the Wynn system is super-sophisticated allowing detailed views of hotel restaurants and attractions. The web browser interface of the screen becomes a perfect mechanism for checking out hotel services.

In order to sell this concept to other hotels Citrix has developed a gold and silver package. Silver allows the screen to have soft keys and a screen saver displaying advertising. You touch the screen to be connected directly with the advertised service. Hotels can sell these as ads if they like.

The gold package adds custom guest greetings allowing you to see "Welcome Rich Tehrani" on the screen. You could also broadcast events at conferences using push alerts. If you are at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo for example, we could push the show’s keynote information to our conferees each morning. Hotels can use this feature to generate revenue.

I saw a great deal of synergy between Citrix and Net6 when I heard about the acquisition and I am happy to see the merger bearing fruits for both companies. Applications are at the heart of VoIP 2.0 and I must say I am impressed at how Citrix is enabling the next generation of IP Communications applications to take shape.

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