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A Common Thread

It's been an interesting news week in enterprise communications. The Good includes some interesting new product capabilities and industry relationships being announced before summer vacations draw attention elsewhere. The Bad is obviously what's happening with Nortel, a company unraveling before our very eyes.The common thread was highlighted for me in the answer to a question I posed to Alcatel-Lucent on an analyst call yesterday that reviewed its recently announced alliance with HP. I asked what the drivers were for the alliance. Part of the answer from Alcatel-Lucent's EVP of Operations, Michel Rahier, was that in the last 6-9 months the company has seen "the pace of convergence between IT and telecom accelerating." He said that many service provider customers are telling ALU that they have already merged CIO operations and network operations, something that is certainly also happening in the enterprise market.

It is this notion of the accelerating convergence between IT and telecom that I see as a prevalent theme in other recent announcements, including:

* Interactive Intelligence's Interaction Process Automation: Serves the purpose of not only automating currently manual processes, such as new employee HR paperwork or insurance claims, but communications-enables at the same time.

* Mitel/VMWare Relationship: Will give customers the ability to run the Mitel real-time voice applications in a virtualized data center environment.

* Nortel's SCS 3.0: In the briefing deck Nortel highlights that the product, "Targets IT buyers in search of a UC solution for their knowledge workers." Nortel says one of the reasons they developed the product was that while some UC buyers are looking for "telephony UC," an extension of traditional communications platforms (e.g., CS1000-based), others are seeking a "native UC" solution, one that is an IT application - all software and all SIP.

Perhaps one can more broadly apply the theme of accelerating convergence to the disintegration of Nortel. Even in the relatively short time between the bankruptcy filing and today the value of traditional telephony-based intellectual property has plummeted.