by October 9, 2006 0 comments



Your solutions for communications come in segregated forms. That is, you have
one solution for messaging/collaboration, another for VoIP, a third for your IP
PBX and so on. Barring a few, most of these solutions become difficult to
configure or manage in complex cluster-farm environments.
CommuniGate Pro from CommuniGate Systems (communigate. com or stalker.com) is a
product that solves both problems for you by integrating into one package all
your communication (messaging, collaboration and telephony) needs into one
seamless solution. Let’s see what the product can do.

Direct
Hit!
Applies
to:
CIOs
USP:
Manage all your communications under one solution
Links:
www.communigate.com 
Google
keywords:
communigate 

Capabilities
CommuniGate can integrate with LDAP and RADIUS infrastructure for authentication
and directory services. If your downstream clients use Outlook, they can use its
MAPI capabilities to interact with the CommuniGate facilities. The software has
the ability to automatically provision accounts by including a ‘Sign Up’
feature for new users and you can enable this with a simple checkmark on the
administrative control panel. Collaboration and conferencing information is
available in XML formats. CommuniGate Pro also runs on 16 OSs and 28 platforms,
including Windows, Linux, various flavors of UNIX, AIX, AS/400, OpenVMS, OS/2
and QNX. Every domain and user gets its own ‘website’. This website allows
the user to store files and retrieve them. They do not get FTP access to do
this, but need to use the CommuniGate UI to do so. The space they get is
controlled by how much storage you allocate them for their account. This can be
up to a limit of 1 GB or unlimited. Once configured, this website can be
accessed from: http:// serverIP: 8100/~username. 

CommuniGate has a number
of services readily enabled for the user, out of the box. These settings
are enabled on a per-domain basis

The editions
CommuniGate Pro comes in seven different editions. The basic single server
solution is the ‘Core Server’ that uses internal or directly attached
storage. Then there is the ‘Cluster Ready’ edition that enables NFS/SAN/NAS
based storage. The step up from this is the ‘Micro Dynamic Cluster’ that
lets you use two active back-end servers, expandable any time. The ‘Active
Dynamic Cluster’ edition that’s meant for extremely large-scale deployments
offers the highest scalability and uptimes. The edition that adds VoIP and IP
PBX capabilities is the ‘Real Time Communications’ server, which adds SIP
and Voice XML support along with the ability to do video, IM and real-time
collaboration. Security using TLS, S/MIME and SRTP is also a part of this
edition. ‘SIP Farm’ is an active and dynamic high-end cluster farm of
CommuniGate Real Time Communications servers. Finally, EdgeGate Services adds
edge area security and policy management. Using this, you get a completely
integrated and centrally administrable communications platform. 

Installation
For our purposes, we are using the ‘Unlimited Trial’ version for the Win32
platform that can be downloaded from stalker.com. This is a 10 MB ZIP file.
After downloading, extract its contents to a temporary folder preserving folder
structures in the ZIP file and run ‘Installer.exe’ from that folder. You get
a simple screen that lets you select alternate folders for the CommuniGate Pro’s
application files and the data (message boxes and so forth) files. For our demo,
we’re leaving both directories at their default settings.

The PBX module allows the administrator
to create multiple language variants for the playback messages and tones 

Click on the Install to proceed. At the end of the installation when you’re
prompted to start the software, click on Yes. If you want to create a clustered
deployment, go ahead and install this on more machines before continuing below.
Now, let’s configure the software.

Configuration
Before you can proceed, you need to find out what your initial password is. The
administrative user account for CommuniGate is ‘postmaster’. But the
password is a four-digit number that’s randomly generated and stored in a text
file.

Open a Windows Explorer instance and browse to ‘C:\CommuniGate Files\
Accounts\postmaster.macnt’. Open the ‘account.settings’ file there in
Notepad and note the numeric sequence along side ‘Password’ there. If you
want to, change this to another four-digit number (lets say ‘1234’) and save
the file. Remember or write down this password somewhere.

Point your browser to the CommuniGate server system’s port 8010 (eg:
http://127.0.0.1:8010). This is your administrative control panel. There are no
shortcuts added to your desktop or programs menus, so it is better to create
bookmarks or shortcuts to this location for later.

CommuniGate’s administrative panel has no central login feature. Every time
you click an administrable menu option, you are prompted for your credentials.
To start off, click on the Settings menu on the left side, which should drop
down to reveal a sub-menu. Select General here. Enter ‘postmaster’ for the
username and the password (‘1234’).

Apart from what administrators can set up per-domain basis, each user can individually control their PBX call control settings to modify CommuniGate’s behavior

Cluster based
Now, you can configure clusters from Settings>General>Cluster. The beauty
of CommuniGate’s flexible configurability can be experienced from here itself.
You only need to enter the information that is absolutely required and click on
Save. Helpers are things that handle external authentication, RADIUS and content
filtering. Where applicable, the helpers need to be enabled by placing a
checkmark in the boxes given. You can also set up Handlers to handle
user-defined events.

You can add as many as you like by filling in the fields that append
themselves to the bottom of this page and give them any names you like. You then
map these handlers to specific conditions from the ‘Elements’ sub tab
(Events>Elements) and setting up at what thresholds these handlers are
invoked. Several of the configuration pages use markup tags (such as ‘^0’)
and these are documented in the product manual that can be separately downloaded
from www.stalker.com.

You can also configure ‘Auto Sign Up’ to allow new users create their own
accounts on the CommuniGate server. To do this, go into the Domain Settings tab
and check the ‘Auto Sign Up’ box. This is a per-domain setting and if you
create multiple domains (see Multi- domain configuration that follows), you will
need to do this for each of them. Let’s enable this at this point of time.

Multi-domain based
Just like an Exchange setup, a single CommuniGate deployment can also be
confiured for multiple domains. This is done from the Domains menu on the
control panel. These domains are independent of the ones you have created on
your LDAP/Active Directory, although each CommuniGate domain can be mapped to a
specific LDAP domain. You can assign a different IP address for each domain as
well as rename them as and when you need.

Mapping domains to LDAP
To map a domain into the LDAP, go to the Directory Integration tab. You first
need to enable Directory-based domains by scrolling to the bottom of this screen
and clicking on the Enable button there. Now, fill in the attributes (Base DN,
Object class and so on) into the various fields.
Here you need to click on ‘Create It’ to create the mapping.

You can also have different attribute names in CommuniGate and LDAP for the
same thing. For instance, name can be called ‘UserName’ in
CommuniGate and ‘cn’ in the LDAP. Once you have directory-based domains, you
can go into the Domains menu and configure it finer there.
Do note that when you create multiple CommuniGate domains, each domain needs to
operate on a different IP address.

Therefore, you need to assign multiple IP addresses to your CommuniGate
server’s NIC and then use one of them each for each domain. Users of one
domain will not be able to access their account if they try to log in from
another domain’s IP address.

The CommuniGate user interface (for normal users to check their e-mail and so
on) is at http://serverIP:8100. Therefore, point your browser to that address
now. If you have created multiple domains, administrators can customize UI skins
for their users.

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