Unified messaging means a lot of things to a lot of different people. To me it means the ability to communicate with people using one centralized system but with any device or means with relative ease. In this day and age, with the plethora of digital communication devices available out there today, this has become a reality.
One of my personal favourite VOIP solutions is Asterisk. Asterisk is an open source PBX which is in my opinion the most flexible non-proprietary piece of VOIP software out there. If you haven’t heard of it, or would like ot check it out, you can get more info here. With Asterisk you can take a call anywhere at anytime and you can even get your voice mail to show up in your e-mail inbox.
One of the things that is required in Unified Messaging is instant messaging(IM). If you are running an Asterisk VOIP system, one of the good IM solutions out there is Openfire and Spark. Openfire is the server side component and Spark is the IM client that runs on your user’s desktops. This server can be easily setup and integrated with Active Directory for Single Sign On (SSO) support. Then you can install the Asterisk component that allows it to integrate with your Asterisk VOIP system! Openfire server supports the open protocol called Jabber.
All in all this is a great solution for SMB offices that don’t want to spend too much money on a VOIP system but still require all the features of one.