Zultys targets SMB market with VoIP gateway

Zultys is aiming its new VoIP gateway at SMBs interested in enterprise features, like IM support and automatic call distribution, but not the cost and hassle associated with an enterprise product. Experts say Zultys' MX250 addresses a number of SMB concerns.

A standards-based gateway from Zultys Technologies Inc. is designed to make voice over Internet Protocol easier

for small businesses to deploy and manage.

The MX250 Internet and public switched telephone network (PSTN) gateway from the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Internet telephony vendor targets businesses with fewer than 250 phone lines. The unit includes support for presence-based applications, such as instant messaging, and it includes automatic call distribution (ACD), fax termination and its own virtual private network.

The gateway is meant to bring voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) features to small offices that do not have the budget or expertise to deploy complicated, expensive VoIP systems designed for much larger businesses, said Zultys' president, Iain Milnes.

Companies in the health care and financial services markets have shown early interest in the product, particularly in its ability to use presence-based applications to locate employees, Milnes said.

Small businesses are looking for IP-based appliances that are feature-rich and easy to deploy, said Greg Still, a managing partner with Tualatin, Ore.-based integrator, Xiologix LLC, which focuses on the small and medium-sized business market.

Zultys has an advantage over competitors because it is committed to standards, said Ray Keneipp, vice president with the Midvale, Utah-based research firm, Burton Group. With Zultys' Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based product, companies are not tied to any specific phone manufacturer (though Zultys does sell its own phones). Customers can use whatever phones they prefer, and they can add other SIP-based products, like MSN Messenger.

"It allows for a lot of flexibility for small businesses," Keneipp said.

Zultys is competing against large vendors like Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks Inc. But Keneipp also said that small vendors have an opportunity in this market; he noted that the small businesses Zultys is targeting are often not loyal to dominant brands, like Cisco. Many smaller companies might not even have an IT worker dedicated to voice, he said.

Keneipp said that the Zultys product addresses many concerns of the small business market. Since these accounts are often tiny compared with large enterprise accounts, the big vendors often let the SMB market fall through the cracks, meaning that focused vendors like Zultys have an opportunity to do well.

However, Zultys' ability to succeed with SMBs will depend on how well it develops distribution channels and relationships with resellers, Keneipp said.

A 100-person MX250 deployment costs about $37,000.

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