Dialogic has claimed that its new hybrid media gateway does the work of two, making it simpler to get a unified communications system based on Microsoft Office Comms Server (OCS) 2007 up and running.

The DMG4000 is both a high-end media converter, converting up to 120 audio channels from IP to the public phone system and vice versa, and a mediation server, hooking MS Office users into the telephony network.

"Unified communications is based on IP and uses SIP within the campus, so a gateway is required to the PSTN," said Franz-Josef Eberle, Dialogic's product management director. "We also cut costs by running the mediation server on the same system."

The mediation server is one of several systems included in the standard Microsoft OCS 2007 set-up, and would normally run on separate hardware. Eberle claimed that as a result, even though the DMG4000 is more expensive than other media gateways - it will list for around $10,000 - it should be a cheaper solution overall.

Intel bought Dialogic in 1999 and sold it off again last year to Eicon Networks, a company better known for its ISDN cards and modems. Eicon then rebranded itself as Dialogic.

Not too surprisingly, Dialogic's gateways are based on rugged Intel 64-bit Xeon rack-mount servers, running Microsoft Windows Server 2003, with the addition of Dialogic (formerly Eicon) boards to connect the system to an ISDN or T1/E1 phone line.

According to Eberle, running the gateway on a Wintel system also simplifies both management and maintenance. "For example, other media gateways such as Cisco have their own operating system and command line interface, so you need extra training for that," he said.

Dialogic noted that the DMG4000 uses its dual-core Xeon chips to do audio processing work which would otherwise require multiple specialist DSPs (digital signal processors).

Eberle said that's feasible and cost-effective because the system sits in the mid-market, as far as audio processing is concerned. At one extreme is the mobile phone handset where cost, miniaturisation and power efficiency demand the use of cheap DSPs, and at the other is carrier-grade equipment which needs specialist chips to handle very high call volumes.