communications software

Unison (unified communications software)

Unison is unified communications software for business, developed by Unison Technologies, Inc., of New York City. It is positioned as a competitor to the unified communications solution of Microsoft, which consists of Exchange Server 2007 and Office Communications Server 2007 integrated with a PBX system. The software also competes with standalone e-mail and groupware servers such as Exchange 2003, and standalone PBX systems from companies such as Cisco, Nortel and Avaya.

Unison consists of two main elements: Unison Server, which is Linux-based server software; and Unison Desktop, which is client software that runs natively on either the Ubuntu Linux or the Microsoft Windows operating systems. When used with Unison Server, Unison Desktop provides users with a single desktop application for e-mail, instant messaging, telephony and voicemail, scheduling and contact management.

Unison was released in beta on March 4, 2008 and a commercial version went on sale on July 29, 2008. The maker of the software is headquartered in New York, with additional offices in Boston and Russia.

On August 5, 2008, Unison Technologies announced an Ubuntu partnership with Canonical, commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, to distribute the Unison software via the Canonical Web store.

Unison Server (server software)

The Unison Server software is available for a number of Linux distributions, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS and Ubuntu Server Edition. It performs the following functions:

  • IP-PBX system, including automated call distribution and hunt groups, interactive voice response, voicemail storage and voicemail to email, call recording, call parking, call forwarding, SIP compatibility, real-time monitoring,
  • E-mail server, with anti-virus and anti-spam
  • Instant messaging server
  • LDAP directory server
  • Calendar and scheduling server
  • Backup and restore

Unison Desktop (client software)

The Unison Desktop client is available for Windows and Linux. It provides users with the following features:

  • E-mail, including send, receive and other common e-mail client features
  • Instant messaging, including send, receive, archive and search features, plus gateways to popular instant messaging systems including ICQ, MSN Messenger, Jabber and Google Talk,
  • Telephony, including features to place, receive, forward and record calls
  • Voicemail, which appears inside a folder in the client
  • Scheduling, including group calendaring functionality and 'free/busy' status
  • Contact management

Administration and migration

The Unison Server is managed via Unison Control Panel, a browser-based console where IT staff can perform administration of users, permissions and the Unison software's functionality.

In addition to the Unison server and client software, call control and migration tools are provided for businesses deploying the system:

  • Unison Call Manager is an application for managers, which provides control over telephone hunt groups inside a company
  • Unison provides a Microsoft Exchange migration tool, enabling transfer of user accounts, e-mail and contacts to the Unison system from Microsoft's e-mail platform

Standards and protocols

The Unison server and desktop client synchronize regularly with each other as users perform communication tasks. Unison is based on or supports a range of standards, including:

  • SIP and RTP for telephony
  • IMAP and SMTP for e-mail
  • XMPP, OSCAR and MSN Messenger for instant messaging and other communication
  • LDAP for address book and directory services
  • CalDAV and iMIP for scheduling, including sending and receiving Microsoft Outlook-compatible calendar invitations

Open source components

The Unison software uses a variety of open source software as part of its unified communications system. A complete list, including source code for download, is available at the company’s open source page Below are some of the open source projects upon which Unison is based:

External links

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