Nortel and Microsoft all set for carrier-hosted unified comms

Nortel and Microsoft are pooling their expertise to encourage unified communications among the world's businesses. New converged office innovations are set to benefit service providers and businesses alike...

Nortel and Microsoft are expanding their efforts to drive the widespread adoption of unified communications among businesses worldwide. Building on their existing Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA), the companies plan to offer solutions that will enable service providers to deliver comprehensive unified communications services to both small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and larger entities.

The Nortel/Microsoft alliance will allow carriers to host unified business communication and collaboration services for their business customers, including e-mail, instant messaging, VoIP, click-to-call, video conferencing and other multimedia services. This will enable carriers to derive greater value from their existing network investments and resources, while allowing SMEs and other enterprises to benefit from unified communications without bearing the burden of purchasing, installing and managing additional network infrastructure.

The integrated solutions will enable service providers to offer subscribers combined telephony, e-mail, collaboration, presence, instant messaging and desktop services. With these hosted communications solutions offerings, service providers will be able to equip SME and enterprise workers with advanced tools such as click-to-call, as well as traditional voice communications and in/outbound dialling from their Microsoft Office Communicator desktop client. In addition, workers will be able to place and receive calls and access their calendars and contacts from their PC or desktop telephone whether they are sitting at their desk, working from their home office or from their hotel rooms while travelling.

There is currently a dynamic restructuring of the communication landscape, which is transforming it from disparate computing and infrastructure networks to an integrated communication experience. in the opinion of one Programme Director for VoIP Infrastructure. In his opinion: "New and collaborative business models involving both IT and telecoms suppliers will be a major element in this transformation going forward. The Nortel/Microsoft alliance and its extension into the carrier space are an excellent example of a market response targeting new business opportunities presented by this changing landscape."

For Richard Lowe, President, Carrier Networks, Nortel: "As one of the world's leading providers to both carriers and enterprises, Nortel is...positioned to identify and address challenges that cross the boundary between public and private networks...With these carrier solutions we can deliver feature-rich unified communications to SMEs through the carrier partners that host their voice services today."

Building on the existing ICA, Nortel will integrate its Communication Server 2000 (CS 2000) softswitch with the Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, which incorporates hosted versions of Microsoft Exchange, Office Live Communications Server and Windows SharePoint Services. In addition, Nortel can provide convergence integration services from its Global Services portfolio that can accelerate and expedite all stages of a unified communications deployment to unify disparate modes of communication into a seamless model, thereby integrating business processes at the applications level. The companies intend to begin field trials in the second half of 2007 with general availability planned by the end of the year.

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