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January 21, 2007

Microsoft and Nortel report on their Unified Communications alliance

Posted by David Hunter at 7:02 PM ET.

When companies announce an alliance like Microsoft and Nortel did last July, it’s always a bit of a toss-up as to whether anything substantive will result. Last week the CEOs of Microsoft and Nortel jointly delivered a report that everything was moving along fine and to expect the first products of the alliance later this year:

Today, Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer and Nortel CEO and President Mike Zafirovski announced a joint road map to deliver their shared vision for unified communications.

Delivering on the vision they outlined in July, Microsoft and Nortel today introduced three new solutions:

• UC Integrated Branch. This new product from the alliance will incorporate Nortel and Microsoft® technology on a single piece of hardware that delivers cost-effective, high-quality and easy-to-deploy VoIP and unified communications in remote offices. The UC Integrated Branch is planned to be available in the fourth quarter of 2007.

• Unified Messaging. To simplify customer deployments, native session initiation protocol (SIP) interoperability between the Nortel Communication Server 1000 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging is planned to be available in the second quarter of 2007. The solution includes Nortel professional services for design, deployment and support.

• Conferencing. This new solution will extend the rich feature set of Nortel Multimedia Conferencing to Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, delivering a single, familiar client experience consistent across applications such as voice, instant messaging, presence, and audio- and videoconferencing. The on-premise solution is planned to be available in the fourth quarter of 2007.

In 2007, the companies also plan to extend their current unified communications solution — a unified desktop and soft phone for VoIP, e-mail, instant messaging and presence — to the Nortel Communication Server 2100, a carrier-grade enterprise telephony product supporting up to 200,000 users on a single system.

In addition, Nortel and Microsoft presented a road map for 2008 and beyond for moving business communications onto a software platform designed to drive a higher-quality user experience and reduce total cost of ownership. The road map outlines several key applications and technology developments including a unified communications contact center, Nortel feature server, expanded hosted UC solutions, mobility and client solutions, and application-aware networking enhancements.

According to Marguerite Reardon at CNET much of that deeper integration isn’t planned to arrive until 2009. Time will tell on the execution and success of their plans, but for now the game is on and the alliance has to be counted among the players in the fragmented unified communications landscape.

Filed under Alliances, Coopetition, Exchange, Executives, Microsoft, Nortel, Office, Office Communications Server, Servers, Steve Ballmer

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