One of the most viewed Citrix blog posts of all time is Orestes Melgarejo’s post, “To VoIP or not to VoIP”. A lot of customers have expressed interest in delivering telephony functions to their users via Presentation Server. The purpose of this blog post is to highlight that there are at least three ways you can already deliver telephony functions with Presentation Server 4.5 today. I’ll get into more detail on each of these currently available solutions in subsequent posts, but let’s start with a brief summary:
1. Published softphone in “control mode”.
There are softphones available today from vendors such as Avaya and Cisco that are Microsoft Terminal Services compatible and can be published on Presentation Server to control a physical telephone set. Likewise, Microsoft’s Office Communicator client, a Unified Communications tool, can be used in this way. In control mode, you use the softphone application to make calls, redirect calls to any telephone, establish audio conferences, control telephony features, and so on.
2. Softphone application streamed to the user’s Windows PC.
The application streaming feature of Presentation Server 4.5 Enterprise Edition and Platinum Edition can be used to stream compatible softphone applications to client devices. The softphone application then runs within a protected isolation environment. The softphone is never actually installed on the user’s PC. This approach to softphone delivery centralizes management and reduces the risk of operating system instability from application conflicts.
At iForum in Las Vegas last year, Citrix, HP and Cisco jointly demonstrated softphone streaming to a Windows XPe thin client. Enabling telephony is one of the common functions of an embedded operating system. We’re still accepting requests from customers who would like to field test this solution. Amazingly, it was all done with generally available product releases.
EasyCall, powered by the Citrix Communications Gateway, is a feature of Presentation Server Platinum Edition. EasyCall provides a remote telecommunications capability without the need to purchase and support softphones. With its click-to-call function, users can click on any telephone number that appears on their screen, whether in a directory or any other application, and EasyCall will initiate a call to that number. EasyCall does this by calling the user first and then completing the call to the number on the user’s screen. The user can specify whether they are using their office phone, home phone, mobile phone, softphone or whatever. Since all calls placed through EasyCall actually originate from the company’s telephone system, long distance charges are reduced.
In addition to the three solutions summarized above, the Citrix Access Gateway deserves a mention in this context. The Access Gateway is capable of tunneling VoIP traffic (which is typically UDP) over SSL. There’s a white paper in the Citrix Knowledge Center that explains how to enable the Cisco IP Communicator softphone through Access Gateway.
So, stay tuned for future blog posts where I will elaborate on each of these currently available methods for delivering telephony functions to your users via Presentation Server. And then I’ll update you on where all of this might go in the future. Meanwhile, I’d be very interested in your comments on any of these solutions, the ‘use cases’ you believe are most important to address, and your own strategic thinking around delivering telephony functions to the enterprise.
Product Strategist, Multimedia Virtualization