Thus far in our series on vendor network architectures, we have looked at systems from well-established network infrastructure companies, firms that are relatively new startups, and some that are spin-offs from older firms. We now turn our attention to a company that perhaps constitutes a new category, one with a worldwide presence in many industries, including semiconductors, industrial controls, medical imaging, digital photography, storage devices, consumer electronics, and computers. Another of those industries is telecommunications in general, and voice over IP systems in particular.
Toshiba's Telecommunication Systems Division (TSD) is a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, which is part of Toshiba, a 130-year-old, $45 billion dollar company based in Japan. TSD has been in business for nearly 30 years and claims the industry's most extensive authorized dealer network, with more than 800 locations nationwide. Toshiba's TSD focuses on the small to medium-size enterprise marketplace, servicing a wide variety of industries. It has an extensive National Accounts program that provides consistent products, pricing, billing, etc., to provide business telephone systems to stores, restaurants, and other multi-location businesses.
This multi-location customer focus is seen in Toshiba's architecture. Toshiba understands that large, multi-location customers will not typically be using the same technologies, and/or have the exact same systems installed. For example, older offices may have a telecommunications system based upon Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) while new installations may go directly to VoIP. The Strata CIX business communication system is an IP-based solution that is unique in that it can be TDM-enabled for a mix of both TDM and IP endpoints. It delivers on Toshiba's promise to "never leave a customer behind" by providing a migration path, which enables many telephones, cards, and other equipment from previous Toshiba platforms to be re-used when the customer upgrades to a newer system. Toshiba offers the industry's most comprehensive migration path and backs it up with the industry's only seven-year manufacturer's warranty.
Toshiba offers three families of business communications products: the Strata CTX28, a very small, affordable TDM system; the Strata CS, a communications server-based system; and the Strata CIX, a family of IP-based systems. The Strata CTX28 is a telephone system designed for small businesses, with a maximum capacity of 16 digital telephone ports, 6 central office lines, and two standard telephone interfaces. The Strata CS is designed for systems as small as 4 trunks and 8 stations, and can be expanded up to 96 trunks and 264 stations. It is based upon a Windows NT 4.0 server, and interfaces with either analog or SIP-based telephones to provide standard PBX features.
The Strata CIX family is Toshiba's flagship product line offering, and includes four different systems providing IP telephony services. It supports IP wireless and IP desk telephones, analog and digital telephones, IP softphones on laptops, PDAs, and tablet PC, and standards-based SIP telephones. Remote users have all the same features available as locally connected users, with more than 300 telephony features supported. Toshiba has even built in a feature customization tool, called FeatureFlex, which is based on the TCL scripting language, and enables users to customize and create their own features.
The Strata CIX systems are all designed to be modular, scalable, and networkable, and support many types of network connections, including IP network connections, analog and digital public switched telephone network (PSTN) interfaces. The four different systems are designed to serve different business sizes. The CIX100-S supports a combination of 16 line or station ports; the CIX100 supports up to 64 CO lines or 72 stations, and combinations up to 112 ports; the CIX200 supports up to 96 CO lines or 160 stations, and combinations up to 192 ports; and the CIX670 supports up to 264 CO lines or 560 stations, and combinations up to 672 ports. Multiple Strata CIX systems can be networked together to provide higher capacities and serve multiple locations. These networked systems function as a single integrated system, and provide centralized attendant services, share a single voice mail system, and internal extension dialing. In addition, the Strata CIX can be TDM-enabled, giving users a choice of running a pure IP system or a mix of IP and digital TDM, thus adding flexible and upward-migration paths for their customers.
Further details on the Toshiba architecture and products can be found at www.telecom.toshiba.com. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' architectures.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2006 DigiNet ® Corporation, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet ® Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.