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Getting Voicemail in your GroupWise Client

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench

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Posted: 18 Dec 2002
 

This article is a simple representation of the process of having voicemails sent into a GroupWise inbox and having control over all messages in the inbox (voicemail, fax and e-mail) from any telephone. Specific functionality discussed in this article is dependent on integration through native software integration to GroupWise APIs, identifying the significance of this type of integration.

The Need

Many organizations are looking to utilize existing systems to gain competitive advantages through better customer service, increased employee productivity, streamlined system management and more efficient business processes. With this, organizations have looked at communications systems as the key system that affects all of these categories. At the heart of a company's communication system is voicemail. So, if a company can better manage and distribute messages, they can better control customer service, productivity and business processes, as well as streamline their technology systems. These organizations identify the critical step as providing voicemails, as well as other messages, to users in a single inbox - their GroupWise inbox.

The Process

There are different methods of making voicemails available to the GroupWise user in their existing e-mail inbox. Though both methods seem to result in the same outcome, there are significant differences in the process by which each takes place.

One method uses Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to create an e-mail message, attach the recorded voicemail as a .WAV file and send that e-mail to the user's SMTP address, where the e-mail server then sends it to the user's inbox. This is a popular way for PBX vendors and voicemail vendors to provide voicemail to the GroupWise user's inbox, though it is not the most reliable form of transport. In this case, the PBX or voicemail system handles the unanswered call, records the voice message, identifies the Called ID with the GroupWise user's internet e-mail address, creates an e-mail message, attaches the message and sends the message to the user's inbox. With this process, the voicemail can be retrieved and managed over a multimedia computer. From a telephone, only retrieval is possible because the voicemail system and the e-mail system are not directly connected. Many organizations find this type of integration unsatisfactory in their GroupWise environment.

The other utilizes a direct integration to the GroupWise server by communicating through native software integration to the GroupWise API and delivering the voicemail message directly to the user's ID on the GroupWise server, ultimately ending up as an e-mail with an attached .WAV file in the user's inbox. This method provides superior reliability by "talking" directly with the GroupWise server, ensuring message transfer is completed and secure. The path of a voicemail message in this scenario starts as usual with the voicemail system retrieving the unanswered call and recording the voice message. Here is where the difference is evident. The communication server, where the voicemail system resides, then opens up communication with the GroupWise server through the GroupWise API.

With communications open between the systems, the voicemail system can verify the GroupWise user ID and match it to the Called ID for the voicemail, it then sends the voicemail to the GroupWise server directly over the LAN/WAN (inside the corporate firewalls) and the voicemail message is attached to an e-mail and dropped into the GroupWise user's inbox. This method not only delivers the voicemail through secure connections, it also provides additional functionality to the user. Because it uses GroupWise APIs for direct communication between systems, users can manage messages in their GroupWise inbox in real-time - allowing them to forward, annotate and delete messages directly from any telephone. When messages are deleted from their inbox from the phone, they are automatically deleted from the GroupWise server - no synchronization needed. The next time they check their inbox form their computer, the messages are shown as "read", "replied", "deleted" or "forwarded", just as the user had done over the telephone. This method of integrated is preferred by organizations because of its security, reliability and advanced functionality.

Why Integration Through the GroupWise Object API?

Integration of communication services (voicemail, fax, SMS, etc.) to the GroupWise client through native software links using GroupWise APIs is critical for reasons involving security, ensured delivery, user functionality and administration.

First, security is at the top of many company's list regarding critical business issues. Utilizing the GroupWise API to communicate and transfer messages between communication servers (Voice, Fax, etc.) keeps the messages secure by transferring them through LAN/WAN connections under the firewall and security software umbrella. Since messages are transferred directly between servers, all documents and information are monitored and delivery is ensured.

Second, the successful delivery of these messages can be managed and ensured via the connection between the communication server and the GroupWise server. If and when there is a problem communicating with the GroupWise server, notifications can be sent identifying the problem to the administrator. There is no longer a concern that a received message is not being delivered successfully to the GroupWise user's inbox.

Third, the native integration to GroupWise through the APIs provides advanced functionality to the users. As described earlier, users can not only retrieve messages but also manage them with reply, delete, forward and annotate commands from a telephone. These commands generate direct communications between the communication server and the GroupWise server, resulting in real-time management of the user's inbox. And, because the central message store for voice and fax messages is separate from the GroupWise server, the user is also able to manage messages from the telephone even if the e-mail network is not active - ensuring always-available access to messages. Without native integration to the GroupWise server through the GroupWise API, the system limits users to retrieve capabilities only.

Last, administration procedures are streamlined with the use of the GroupWise API. Since the integration is native, administrators can add, change and delete users on both systems at a single point - Novell ConsolOne - using directory synchronization to "sync" the two directories, ensuring accurate user profiles and reducing the time needed to make updates. Also, administrators can leverage the communication server to generate notifications and alerts in the case maintenance are required for either system. The bi-lateral communication between servers makes administration quicker and more accurate than administering the communication server separate from the e-mail server. This is critical to smaller companies that require streamlined administration and monitoring features.

TOPCALL's Solutions

Since this article is focused on Voicemail to GroupWise, we will keep to that focus. Though, we will touch on the advanced functions of the TOPCALL communication server as well, providing a complete solution for communications with the GroupWise platform.

For starters, TOPCALL has been recognized by Novell because of its tight integration to GroupWise, using native software integration to the GroupWise API. TOPCALL has developed integrations through the GroupWise Object API and API Gateway to ensure the most reliable and feature-rich solution for GroupWise. We have already addressed many of the benefits of this integration.

For voicemail, it is clear the value TOPCALL's integration brings to a GroupWise environment - a single point of access for voicemail directly in the GroupWise inbox with real-time message management from any telephone. The diagram below shows the path of a voicemail with TOPCALL's integration to GroupWise.

What about other business communications? Although voicemail can be the most critical communication within an organization today, there are other important message types that benefit from the "single inbox" concept. For example, what about sales orders that are faxed to an organization? Or, what about alert notifications sent from applications in the form of SMS messages? Even more, what about traditional post mail that comes into an organizations mailroom. Can all of these be included in the single GroupWise inbox? Yes, they can with TOPCALL.

Since TOPCALL is a communication server that supports not only voicemail but also fax messaging, wireless messaging (SMS), telex messaging and document scanning, the GroupWise user can actually use the single GroupWise inbox to manage all of these media types. "Traditional" Unified Messaging includes voicemail, fax and e-mail in a single inbox. "True" Unified Messaging does this with a single communication platform, i.e. TOPCALL's communication server. "Advanced" Unified Messaging incorporates non-traditional media types, like SMS and scanned postal mail, to provide a single point for all possible message types within the GroupWise client. Many of the readers are already familiar with the Features of TOPCALL's solution for GroupWise. For those who are not, following are some highlights of the system.

Features of the TOPCALL Communication Platform with Novell GroupWise:

  • Single administration from the GroupWise administration tools
  • Real-time message management from any telephone
  • Secure and reliable message transfer through native GroupWise integration
  • Supports Fax, E-mail, Voicemail/Voice Alerting, SMS, scanned postal mail and other communications
  • Inbound Fax and Voicemail message sent directly to GroupWise inbox (DID, Caller ID, Called-ID or OCR-based routing)
  • Users work directly in GroupWise, no TOPCALL client software required
  • Send Fax and SMS messages directly from GroupWise
  • Receive notifications, alerts, delivery confirmations, etc. directly in GroupWise inbox

GroupWise Single Inbox Screenshots (Fax, Voice, E-mail)

Summary

In summary, there are multiple ways to provide voicemail to a GroupWise user's inbox, but there is only one way to do it right - through native software integration to GroupWise APIs. TOPCALL has developed native integration to the GroupWise platform using its APIs to provide the most secure, reliable and robust communications platform for GroupWise. The proof is in the integration, and with TOPCALL the integration is tight.

If you would like to learn more about how TOPCALL has solved specific business challenges of its customers, visit their web site at http://www.topcall.com/.

Keep an eye out for the next article in this series - Communication-enabling WebSphere.

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