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My organization (2 locations, one with ~100 employees and one with ~30) has been considering switching from an analog PBX phone system to a VOIP solution, but it's looking like the cost may be too high for us. A big motivation for this switch was to enhance our phone system's usability, so I'm wondering if we might be able to get some bang for our limited, nonprofit buck by deploying Exchange Unified Messaging in combination with our existing Exchange 2007 installation and existing analog PBX. So the questions I have are:

  • Does this even seem like a reasonable approach? The main goal would be to enable receiving voicemail and faxes within Outlook.

  • Can you recommend some good reference material? I've found a few things on TechNet but I'm not even sure what to search for at this point. High-level all the way down to super detailed would be welcome.

  • What hardware would be required? Based on my research so far, I'm thinking we'd definitely need a SIP gateway and we'd probably need another server. Can you recommend a SIP gateway for use with a Merlin Legend PBX at one location and a Definity PBX at the other?

  • Could this deployment be handled by a competent Exchange admin (not me), or should we figure on contracting this out?


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Here is an article you might want to read up on.

The version 4.0 of Merlin Messaging for the Magix/Definity claims to have Unified messaging support through the use of a WAV file. We have this version of VM at one of our sites, but I was leery of putting in the Unified Messaging because the technology seems outdated.

I'd look at one of the 3rd party products that claim to take older PBX systems and bring their VM up to date. Here is one such company.

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Thank you! Exactly the sort of info I was hoping for. – Mike Powell May 16 '09 at 12:44

If you take a look at the list of PBX configuration notes that Microsoft maintains, there are several Definity and Merlin models listed. Without knowing exactly what you have, I can't specify which specific gateway you'd need, but you will need one to translate between the native PBX signaling and SIP.

Your best bet for guidance on how Exchange UM works and how to deploy and install it is probably the "Unified Messaging Concepts and Planning" section of the Exchange 2007 docs. As an Exchange consultant, my professional opinion :) is that a competent admin can probably manage a UM deployment provided they understand how UM works and what it does and doesn't do.

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