Nortel and Microsoft to Deliver Hosted Unified Communications

Nortel and Microsoft Corp. are expanding their efforts to drive the widespread adoption of unified communications among businesses around the world. 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 small and medium business (SMBs) and enterprises.

Nortel and Microsoft’s 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 SMBs and enterprises to benefit from unified communications without bearing the burden of purchasing, installing and managing additional network infrastructure.

New and collaborative business models involving both IT and telecom suppliers will be a major element in this transformation going forward. The Nortel-Microsoft alliance and its extension into the carrier space is an excellent example of a market response targeting new business opportunities presented by this changing landscape.

“As one of the world’s leading providers to both Carriers and Enterprises, Nortel is uniquely positioned to identify and address challenges that cross the boundary between public and private networks,” said Richard Lowe, president, Carrier Networks, Nortel. “With these carrier solutions we can deliver feature-rich Unified Communications to small and medium-sized enterprises through the carrier partners that host their voice services today. Together Nortel and Microsoft are eliminating challenges that SMBs face when sourcing professional grade communications, by stripping the burden of complexity from the enterprise back office.”

Building on their existing Innovative Communications Alliance, 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’s familiar enterprise products Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server and Windows SharePoint Services.

In addition, Nortel will provide a full range of convergence integration services from the Nortel 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 integrating business processes at the applications level. The companies intend to begin field trials the second half of 2007 with general availability planned by the end of the year.

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 SMB 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.

“In the anywhere, anytime world we live in, business users want easy access to all of their communications tools, regardless of location, type of device or time of day,” said Michael O’Hara, general manager, Communications Sector, Microsoft. “Microsoft and Nortel, working with service providers around the globe, are making it easier than ever for businesses of all sizes to get the rich communications services they want, wherever they want, whenever they want them.”