Carriers Poised to Deliver Unified Communications Solutions? - InformationWeek

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6/18/2008
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Carriers Poised to Deliver Unified Communications Solutions?

Two giants have partnered to make it simpler for carriers to deliver unified communications solutions. Consequently, small and medium businesses may soon find it easier to cost justify and deploy such products.

Two giants have partnered to make it simpler for carriers to deliver unified communications solutions. Consequently, small and medium businesses may soon find it easier to cost justify and deploy such products.Unified communications have the potential to streamline information delivery. They will take a message and route it to the most appropriate end user device (email, cell phone, instant messaging) in real time. These solutions features items, such as click-to-call, click-to-conference, missed call and email messages, mobility and telephony presence capabilities.

Since July 2006, Microsoft and Nortel have teamed up to deliver unified communications solutions. The two companies targeted carriers with their latest solution, which is a hosted system based on the Nortel Communications Server 2000 and Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration Version 4.5 (HMC 4.5), Nortel is delivering the infrastructure necessary, so carriers can manage unified communications features. Microsoft designed hosted versions of its Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 products.

Once carriers deploy the new product, the main customers will be small and medium businesses, according to the companies. Use of unified communications has been stymied in this market for a variety of reasons, with cost and implementation being major hurdles. The new approach has the potential to ease these issues because those items will be outsourced to carriers.

While the new initiative has potential, it also must overcome a number of challenges. First, the two vendors need to find carriers who want to sell the service. Carriers are looking to move from selling commodity communications lines to value added enhanced services. Next, carriers will need to put a support sales and support infrastructure in place for the new service, a step that will require time and effort. This new partnership raises some interesting possibilities in the unified communications market, so now, the focus shifts to see if Nortel and Microsoft and its partners will deliver on the new plans.

How much interest do you have in unified communications? What do you see as the benefits of a carrier supplying such services? Do you rely on your carrier for any other applications?

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