It seems almost everyone is jumping into VoIP these days.
The name Nero is often thought of in the context of things that burn—as in ancient Rome or modern DVDs. Nero, the software company, however, is mending its incendiary ways and remolding itself into a VoIP company—as evidenced by the new SIPPSTAR IP-PBX and SIPPS softphone applications. SIPPS is aimed both at consumer and business customers; SIPPSTAR primarily at the SMB market.
“Nero as a company is gradually moving away from being a “DVD Burning Application Developer,” Nero spokesperson Jay Cheng told VoIPplanet.com. “Instead, we are positioning ourselves as the developer for high quality digital media applications. Yes, people know Nero because of our Nero Burning-ROM. To us it’s more of a competitive edge at the consumer level.” In other words, Cheng argues that Nero’s mind-share in the consumer marketplace gives it a leg up for its new VoIP products.
SIPPS is a VoIP softphone application that also includes multi-protocol instant messaging, allowing users to chat and enable presence awareness on MSN, AOL, ICQ, and Jabber. Also integrated into SIPPS are an answering machine and a call recording feature. SIPPS is, as the name implies, SIP based.
For PDA users on the go, Nero offers a special version of the software—SIPPS Mobile—which will allow phone calls from public hotspots.
As the VoIP marketplace continues to become increasingly crowded, Nero hopes to differentiate itself based on its products’ usability.
“On the GUI, we use self-explanatory icons, so people who have been using IM clients such as MSN or Yahoo! can easily operate SIPPS,” Cheng said. He added that wizard-based registration and configuration guides users through the whole process and provides an easy entry to the VoIP space.
SIPPS also includes click-to-call functionality via a TAPI interface, which allows for direct dial-up of contacts from Outlook or any other TAPI-compatible application.
According to Cheng, the setup should be relatively easy for users of Outlook or other TAPI-compatible application. “SIPPS is delivered TAPI-ready. All the user has to do is to right-click on their contact in the contact folder, click on “call contact” and click “Talk”,” Cheng explained. “Outlook will find an available TAPI phone or software or prompt the user to choose their mean of communication. The user can then click on “SIPPS” and he’s ready to go.”
Nero also has an IP-PBX called SIPPSTAR that offers the typical gamut of PBX functionality including voice mail, user groups, and call-hunt groups.
As a company whose reputation is built on “burning,” Nero has also taken precautions to protect its VoIP users from getting “burned.” The SIPPSTAR IP-PBX includes a DMZ proxy that is intended to provide a degree of VoIP security for users.
Nero’s Cheng explained that in order to secure the proxy server or registrar in a VoIP network, SIPPSTAR DMZ can be viewed as the second instance of SIPPSTAR IP-PBX. “To secure the network, DMZ Proxy will be the only backend component that’s exposed to the public network and SIPPSTAR or other IP-PBX can be placed behind a firewall,” Cheng explained. “When the VoIP network is attacked or hacked, only DMZ Proxy can be damaged. When the DMZ server is damaged, SIPPSTAR is still able to make outgoing VoIP calls and also make and receive calls via POTS.”
Nero has high hopes for its VoIP business. According to Cheng, beyond user-experience upgrades to SIPPS, for SIPPSTAR they are planning a “dramatic upgrade” so it becomes a carrier-level proxy.