I’ve noticed more and more inquiries lately about delivering softphones using virtualization technology. XenApp 5 for Windows Server 2008 and XenDesktop 3 Feature Pack 1 introduced audio subsystem enhancements that now enable online softphone delivery with voice-over-ICA using the Bidirectional Audio feature of HDX RealTime. And some softphones, like Cisco IP Communicator, can be delivered to the user device with our offline plug-in. But understandably, not everyone is ready to take the plunge and throw away their telephones! So it is very interesting to hear the comments of customers who are using XenApp or XenDesktop to deliver softphones in “control mode” where the softphone application is used together with a physical telephone set. They’re experiencing valuable benefits despite taking a more cautious approach to IP telephony.

Awhile back, I blogged about publishing the Avaya IP Softphone. Yesterday I had a chat with Tom Balthasar of Cellino and Barnes, a law firm in New York State that uses a ShoreTel IP phone system and delivers ShoreTel’s Call Manager softphone to over one hundred employees using Citrix technology. Tom provides his users with complete virtual desktops that they can access whether they’re in the office or remote. With Call Manager, users find it very convenient to dial from the directory rather than punch in numbers on the keypad. And they get visual access to voice mail and PBX features. When there’s a weather emergency, employees can work remotely using Call Manager along with their home telephone or mobile phone. When they make outbound calls with Call Manager, the ShoreTel IP phone system calls them first, and then adds the called party. The Caller ID seen by the person they’re calling shows “Cellino and Barnes”, transparently maintaining the same service as if they were in the office.

The PBX operators use ShoreWare Operator Call Manager, also delivered as an online application, which gives them advanced call management features and shows them the status of all lines. If an operator is out due to illness or vacation, an operator at another location can easily fill in.

Tom loves the fact that his IT department doesn’t need to maintain applications like Call Manager on each user’s PC. Everything is centralized in his data center. All his users need is the Citrix online plug-in.

ShoreTel announced Citrix Ready certification of the ShoreWare Call Manager suite in 2008. 

Derek Thorslund
HDX Product Strategist & Sr. Manager, XenDesktop Product Management