NEC UNIVERGE SV9100 Review – Flying the Flag for On-Premises UC
NEC’s very scalable IP-PBX solution for small and large businesses
NEC’s SV9000 range is the Japanese multinational’s flagship brand of on-premises communications platforms.
Launched in October 2014, the SV9000 range was intended to supplant the previous SV8000 range, providing the telephony and UC server architecture for micro-businesses right up to enterprise level corporations.
The UNIVERGE SV9100 is the SME offering. A proprietary communications server with a wide range of endpoints and feature rich applications. The SV9100 is billed by NEC as a flexible, reliable, highly scalable UC solution for small businesses. It promises cost effective, straightforward deployment for 10 to 800+ users, with a simplified licensing structure for adding UC and contact centre solutions.
So, does the UNIVERGE SV9100 deliver on these promises? On reputation alone as one of the world’s biggest electronics goods manufacturers, and a leading player in the IP telephony market, NEC products attract a great deal of loyalty based on quality and reliability. But in the age of cloud PBX and UCaaS, does an on-premises server still compete in offering small businesses value, flexibility and scalability?
Before we dig deeper, please bear in mind that the opinions expressed in this review are entirely independent and intended only to inform our readership. UC Today plays no role in endorsing, promoting or marketing any particular brand or product.
How Does It Look?
The UNIVERGE SV9100 is available in two flavours, one aimed at smaller businesses, the other for those who are seeking larger capacity and support for legacy technologies like digital phones, analogue devices and lots of ISDN trunks.
Both come as a rack mountable chassis which can be stacked to increase capacity. The SV9100E is the larger of the two, with a 19” chassis (full dimensions: 88mm x 430mm x 390mm), while the SV9100S has a 9.5” chassis (115mm x 220mm x 369mm).
The front of each server is given over to a wide range of ports supporting IP, digital and analogue connections, BRI and PRI trunk ports.
What Can It Do?
First and foremost, the UNIVERGE SV9100 is a highly flexible and scalable PBX solution. A single server can support a combination of telephone deployment options, with ports for IP, SIP, digital, DECT and traditional analogue devices. This means it is able to plug straight into existing architectures and run existing hardware, while offering plenty of scope to update and upgrade in the future.
There are almost double the number of ports available with the SV8100. The system can handle up to 400 SIP trunks, and these can be from multiple carriers, again offering more options and more resilience. For fixed telephone lines, the SV9100 offers support for up to 184 ISDN2e (BRI) trunks and 180 ISDN30e (PRI) channels.
In terms of endpoint connections, there are IP terminals for UNIVERGE DT800 series desktop phones, the SP310 softphone plus SIP DECT terminals. In addition, there are digital TDM ports for UNIVERGE DT300 series telephones and analogue SLT terminals rated at 24V and 48V.
Away from voice, the SV9100 comes with a wide range of embedded applications and uses a licensing system to activate what each client needs, so you basically pay for the features you want to use.
Applications are accessed via the NEC UC Suite client, which comes with a PC Attendant Console GUI. This allows everything, calls included, to be accessed and managed on a desktop interface. There is also an equivalent UC Web Client which allows remote access via Google Chrome, plus an Android and iOS compatible Fixed Mobile Convergence solution, so users can enjoy full mobility with all UC functions.
This includes the option to configure a number of different desktop and mobile phones to a single extension, so wherever you take or make a call, you use the same caller ID. The single extension also supports a single voicemail, VM InMail, which supports from 15 hours of storage up to 120, depending what SD memory card is installed. There is one voicemail box available per subscription, and features include email notification and message forwarding.
There is also an Automated Attendant with caller ID capture, multiple programmable greetings, park and page plus 16 channel VRS digital call recording. This is in addition to automatic call logging, which records incoming calls, outgoing calls, call date and time, call duration and caller ID information.
Other available applications include the NEC SP310 softphone, a versatile, multimedia IP phone installed on the desktop which also supports video conferencing. There is also a messaging feature intended mainly for supporting call management and transfer.
The UC suite supports CRM integration, which offers seamless access to UC functions via the likes of Outlook, Goldmine, Salesforce, Time Matters and ACT! The SV9100 server can be configured to perform a search in the CRM database when a call comes in, bringing up relevant customer data in real time.
As well as the UC suite, the SV9100 server also offers licensed access to SV9100 contact centre, an intelligent call management and routing platform for businesses managing high call traffic volumes. Key features include call volume distribution to reduce waiting times, call queue announcements, agent callback and a reporting and analysis package.
What do we like?
From the perspective of the target audience, one of the key strengths of the SV9100 has to be the versatile, modular architecture. SMEs come in all shapes and sizes and have diverse needs. Ripping out an entire comms system and starting again is often just not feasible, so the fact that you can run an IP, digital or analogue phone system in any combination from this server makes it superbly flexible and ready to plug into existing networks.
In addition to that, the fact that it can operate from 10 to 800 users means it offers great scalability to ambitious small businesses looking to grow, and the licensing system means costs are kept down by only providing what the customer needs at any one time. Finally, it ranks up there as one of the most easily configurable on-premises servers available on the market, and offers easy migration for existing NEC customers looking to update or upgrade.
Who is it for?
We see no reason to dispute NEC’s positioning of this product within the SME market. With two product options at two different price points, the number of users supported, the easy configuration, the versatile support of different PBX connections and cost effective licensing system for UC and contact centre applications, this is a great all round offering for small to medium businesses looking for a flexible, straightforward and reliable on-premises solution.
What is it compatible with?
The UNIVERGE SV9100 server is compatible with a wide range of NEC phones, including the Univerge DT800 and DT300 series, the UT880, the SP310 softphone and DECT G966. The NEC UC Suite can also be integrated with a range of contact and CRM software platforms such as Outlook, Goldmine, Salesforce, Time Matters and ACT!
UC Today Opinion
The UNIVERGE SV9100 has been a market leader in the on-premises PBX and UC server market since its release. It is not difficult to understand why – the wide range and scalability of connection options, the cost effective and straightforward UC feature licensing system plus the ease of deployment and configuration very much zone in on what the majority of small businesses look for from a communications system.
Much of the talk in the UC market is whether hosted services, with their ready scalability, ease of use and affordable subscription models will eventually replace on-premises infrastructure. The SV9100 proves plugged in servers can still compete on the main points UCaaS gets championed for.