Artisoft Goes Vertical

Last fall Artisoft, developer of the next-generation digital, analog, and VoIP phone system TeleVantage®, purchased Vertical Networks, a leader in VoIP systems for large distributed enterprises such as CVS/pharmacy and Household International. This January, Artisoft announced it had changed its name to Vertical Communications, to signify the improved capabilities of the post-merger company.

To some degree the name change to Vertical Communications reflects a desire to distance the firm from LANtastic, which used to be Artisoft's flagship networking product years ago. However, after Microsoft bundled networking software into Windows 95 and 98 for free, Artisoft saw the writing on the wall and sold the LANtastic family to focus solely on TeleVantage.

Vertical Communications (or simply Vertical) will continue to develop and support its two main phone systems, TeleVantage and InstantOffice®, a Voice-over-IP phone system designed for large enterprises with many locations, such as a retail chain. Since the two products do not overlap they will continue to coexist. Vertical will also change focus slightly for its TeleVantage phone system. While TeleVantage can be used in any business (ITS has had it in our own office for years now), Vertical will focus marketing for TeleVantage more directly on several selected professional services markets as well as call centers. Vertical will continue to target TeleVantage towards businesses with 4 to 720 users and one or more locations, and target InstantOffice towards large enterprises with 50 or more locations.

While the two flagship products TeleVantage and InstantOffice do not overlap in terms of target market, Vertical plans to integrate the best features of each system into the other. For instance, Vertical makes their own telephony hardware for handling VoIP as well as their own line of analog telephones which we expect to be supported in future versions of TeleVantage, possibly as soon as TeleVantage 7 which is expected within the next 6 months. Also, Vertical will support their own VoIP and digital phones, and intends to integrate InstantOffice technology into TeleVantage such as an XML-based IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition) engine, a fax server engine, and robust remote reporting capabilities.

Altogether Vertical expects that the IP-PBX, or software-based phone system, market will continue to be a high growth area. The ability to combine a company's phone system with applications that are built upon or interact with that phone system is a powerful combination. For example TeleVantage can forward voice mails to an e-mail address, and users can connect to the system visually via the ViewPoint software client or from any web browser anywhere in the world. This allows staff to quickly manage voice mail and set up call forwarding, greetings, and other phone settings from any location. Programming connections allow interaction with other software as well as calls arrive.

Overall, Vertical Communications' management has outlined a positive message and strategy to their Solution Providers. Artisoft's management is largely in place, with Vertical Networks' founder serving as Chief Technology Officer. We expect good things to come from the merger of Artisoft and Vertical Networks, and expect Vertical to continue innovating and improving its next-generation TeleVantage phone system in the years to come.

January 2005

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