Microsoft, Nortel Deliver on UC Roadmap

Microsoft and Nortel today announced the availability of four new joint unified communications (UC) solutions designed to transform how people connect, communicate and collaborate. The joint products include the Converged Office unified communications suite, Multimedia Conferencing, and solutions for branch offices and hosted service providers. Customer adoption continues to accelerate with more than 600 wins for the companies' unified communications products since the formation of the alliance.

"With the availability of these latest solutions, Nortel and Microsoft have now delivered on the joint solutions that our two CEOs outlined in January 2007,"  Ruchi Prasad, vice president and general manager of the Innovative Communications Alliance at Nortel, said in a statement. "With these solutions, enterprises can now choose to deploy unified communications via a customer premise solution, managed service solution, or hybrid of the two, helping accelerate the pace of unified communications adoption."

"Customers and partners recognize the value of joint Microsoft and Nortel solutions and we expect to continue driving the adoption of software-based unified communications solutions in 2008," Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft, said in the same statement. "In the coming year, we will extend the scope of our unified communications collaboration to include areas such as Contact Center integration and a mix of hybrid and fully hosted UC solutions."

The four new unified communications solutions are:

- Nortel Converged Office, which integrates the comprehensive voice functionality of Nortel's Communication Server (CS) 1000 IP-PBX or CS 2100 IP-PBX with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007.
- UC Integrated Branch, which extends unified communications to branch office and remote sites. It combines Office Communications Server 2007 mediation server capabilities into the Nortel Secure Router 4134, while integrating WAN routing, Ethernet switching, security and high quality VoIP capabilities into a single cost-effective platform.
- Carrier Hosted Unified Communications Solution, which allows service providers to offer hosted unified communications solutions using Nortel's Communication Server 2000 softswitch with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging. The solution allows providers to equip workers with instant messaging, VoIP, click-to-call, video conferencing and other multimedia services through Microsoft Office Communicator 2007.
- Nortel Multimedia Conferencing 5.0 for Office Communications Server 2007, which provides a reservationless audio conferencing solution that enhances Office Communications Server 2007 conferencing with dial-in audio bridge capabilities, enabling external non Communications Server 2007 users to dial into a conference.

Through its extensive investment of resources in 2007, Nortel can now provide a comprehensive portfolio of UC professional services that span consulting, assessment and design, testing, deployment and support services. This also includes new advanced services that enable the integration of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 with existing business applications to create communications enabled business processes. For instance, an employee receiving a customer call on his Office Communicator client can be presented with the recent sales activity from that customer.

With more than 600 wins for the joint solutions from Nortel and Microsoft since the beginning of the alliance, customers are providing a strong endorsement of the two companies' software-based approach to unified communications. New joint customers announced today include Ringier AG, Bosowa, FASA, KMITL and Sandler Travis & Rosenberg.

The Road Ahead

As Microsoft and Nortel look ahead to the next phase of their alliance, they plan to focus attention on delivering:
- Fully Hosted Unified Communications to provide the same user experience as the on-premises Converged Office solution in a fully hosted environment for all the UC workloads including voice, presence/IM, conferencing and unified messaging.
- Contact Center Integration, blending Nortel's  Contact Center application with Office Communications Server to deliver real time multi-modal capabilities enabling new customer touch points, while leveraging rich presence and collaboration capabilities to improve first call resolution and as a result improving the efficiency of communications between agents, supervisors and subject matter experts.

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