Koos Holst
Senior Software Designer
Philips Business Communications

"Because the business communications market demands 99.999% uptime for our products, we have high expectations from our suppliers, and Altium delivers."

The Company

Philips Business Communications (PBC) provides open solutions through scalable switching technology including IP telephony, applications software and professional services under its SOPHO brandname. Headquartered in Hilversum, the Netherlands, PBC is a business unit within Philips Consumer Electronics, which addresses customer needs through its Business Mobility, Virtual Networking, TeleBusiness, Desktop Productivity and Customer Services groups.

The Challenge

Due to the increasing demands of the telephony market, PBC decided to upgrade its Analog Line Card (ALC), which served as the backbone of its switching system. To gain additional speed and power, PBC was forced to abandon the 8051 processor used in its original card and replace it with the XA processor. The problem: PBC needed a stable compiler with features that increased developer efficiency, and there were very few XA tool suites available at the beginning of the development project.

The Solution

After evaluating the options, PBC chose TASKING development tools because of their reliability. However, by the time the project was finished, Altium had proven itself to be invaluable in many other ways as well. Its service and responsiveness was second to none and, with a subsequent release, its tool suite boasted superior features and a well-optimized compiler.

The Results

Even though Altium offered a relatively new tool suite, its reliability, excellent features, and stellar support made all the difference. Without Altium, PBC would have lost up to twelve person months accomplishing the task in assembly.

As a business unit of Philips Consumer Electronics, Philips Business Communications (PBC) plays a significant role in one of the world's largest electronics companies that boasts sales of US$ 31.5 billion in 1999.

With over 12 million end-users, PBC plans to build on its strengths as a leading telecommunications partner with open business communications solutions that integrate scalable switching technology, Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, flexible networking and advanced wired and wireless peripherals.

Philips is doing all it can to add more value to its solutions and services by fine-tuning its technology solutions to defined vertical market segments, such as Health Care, Hospitality, Banking and Insurance, Government and Utilities, and Education.

In recognition of the role that VoIP applications will play in the business world, PBC has extended its SOPHO range of PBX-based equipment, making it compatible with the new field of IP telephony - a true advance for PBC and the communications industry. The name for this new vision of the IP-enabled future: SOPHO @vance.

When It Comes to Tools, Stability Matters Most

PBC products revolve around the SOPHO iS3000 Series of ISPBXs, an integrated exchange technology that accommodates and optimizes Philips' business communications products as well as other ISDN-based applications. PBC was faced with the problem that the Analog Line Card, which serves as the backbone of the SOPHO switch system, needed to be upgraded to provide additional functionality.

As Koos Holst, PBC Senior Software Designer, explained, "Our original ALC used an 8-bit 8051 processor, but because of increasing performance and functionality requirements, we needed something more powerful."

To meet the increased demand for power and speed, PBC selected the 16-bit XA processor and gained in addition an extended address range, more modern instruction set and support for interrupt priorities. With support for a real-time kernel, the XA provided an ideal multi-tasking environment for the next generation iS3000, which aims to penetrate all countries through adopting harmonized standards and new programmability.

But when it came to finding an integrated development environment, PBC was at a loss. Most of the tool suites failed to offer the reliability needed for a demanding business communications application. Without question, according to Holst, "Our Number One requirement in selecting a compiler for the XA was stability."

No Complaints: The Best Compliment You Can Give a Tools Partner

When it came to selecting the best tool suite for the job, Altium won hands down. "We selected the TASKING XA development tools because they're reliable, offered the most mature products on the market, and had support that's second to none," said Holst.

While Altium's reputation for reliability got them the job, PBC quickly learned that they had latched on to a top-notch partner. Altium actively solicited feedback and responded to PBC's needs with an updated, optimized, feature-rich release.

In Holst's judgement, the tools made all the difference, "The tools turned out to be very user friendly. This, and the help of a good-quality simulator, had us up to speed quickly."

PBC found that Altium took every step of development seriously. "Altium's support department deserves an award," says Holst. "It's exactly what you hope for in a supplier. During beta test, I discovered TASKING is a good listener. What we said was taken seriously."

At the end of any complex development project, software engineers reminisce about the obstacles they overcame to achieve success. Not once did Altium's name come up. 

"The quality of the TASKING compiler was never in question," Holst declared. "The performance Altium delivered exceeded our expectations. There were no problems to overcome. That's the best compliment you can give a tools partner."

TASKING Delivers a Risk-Free Solution

Development projects must plan risk mitigation for all components of a project — everything from staffing to competition and third-party products. PBC realized that without an effective tool suite, the project would need to be written in assembly, a skill only two of its four-member development team had acquired.

But Altium met this challenge head on, delivering a complete, worry-free solution. Though new to the market, the TASKING tools and support team performed their services flawlessly.

When asked what he'd use for XA tools next time round, Holst responded with no uncertainty, "I wouldn't hesitate to choose TASKING again. With Altium, problems get evaluated and prioritized well. The problem is always solved promptly, and in a way you can depend on. Without question, TASKING tools provide the greatest reliability, features and service, saving us the twelve person months that assembly would have taken."