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Microsoft, Nortel Make Joint UC Announcement

Microsoft and Nortel today announced a series of UC integrations between Nortel products and Microsoft OCS; some of these announcements had already dribbled out, or preludes had been announced, but the two vendors have now pulled it all together into a single release. I had a chance to talk with the two companies to get an update on this release and on the progress of the Microsoft-Nortel Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA), their partnership for UC.

Microsoft and Nortel today announced a series of UC integrations between Nortel products and Microsoft OCS; some of these announcements had already dribbled out, or preludes had been announced, but the two vendors have now pulled it all together into a single release. I had a chance to talk with the two companies to get an update on this release and on the progress of the Microsoft-Nortel Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA), their partnership for UC.The update announcement focused on 4 areas:

  • Nortel Converged Office, the native integration of the core Nortel Communications Server 1000 IP-telephony platform with OCS.

  • UC Integrated Branch, a new capability that lets the user deploy Microsoft's Mediation Server on Nortel's branch office-based Secure Router 4134. This lets enterprises combine these two capabilities on a single box at the branch, a clear benefit. Mediation Server is where Microsoft clients are transcoded from the proprietary Microsoft codec into standard codecs, and where OCS handles NAT traversal.

  • Carrier Hosted Unified Communications, a system that integrates Nortel's carrier-grade CS2000 with Microsoft OCS and Exchange Server 2007.

  • Nortel Multimedia Conferencing 5.0 for OCS 2007, which lets companies use the MCS5100 capabilities for audioconferencing, to connect to the PSTN, while using OCS 2007 for videoconferencing.

    In a joint briefing, Ruchi Prasad, VP and GM of ICA at Nortel and Craig Schuman, Director of Business Development and Strategy for the UC Group at Microsoft expanded on this announcement:

    "When we went out with the alliance a little over a year ago, we knew people were going, 'Aah, [they're] not gonna come up with much,'" Craig Schuman told me. "But the goal here is really to show not only were the naysayers wrong, but to really come out with real complete solutions, showing that not only can two big companies come together, but really focusing on that vision of the software-centric approach. So we're real pleased and we're excited about where we're going from here."

    Schuman also said that, going forward, hosted services and contact center are 2 key areas of focus from Microsoft's perspective. On hosting

    the key there is ensuring Centrex customers that they can accelerate their move to UC.

    But also and importantly, the contact center integration: We take Nortel's Contact Center application, which is industry-leading, and you combine that with Office Communications Server. The customer's going to benefit in a lot of ways. It enables new customer touch points and it leverages the rich presence and collaboration capabilities to improve that first call resolution.

    I asked Ruchi and Craig about some things that weren't covered in the release, but that a lot of analysts are saying represent key proof points as to whether the ICA really succeeds, especially from Nortel's perspective. One of the big issues here is Nortel's stated aim of using ICA and its Microsoft relationship to transform itself into more of a services company. On that score, there seems to have been significant progress--Ruchi Prasad said that 40% of all OCS-certified technicians are Nortel employees, and this figure is 23% for LCS certifications.

    Ruchi also addressed the delicate balance that Nortel has to strike as it attempts to go heavier into the services business:

    Absolutely we've been doing a lot of the deployments. We haven't published the numbers. But at the same time, we've also been working on enabling our channel partners. Because based on different channel partners which we work with, whether the large carriers or the independent channel partners, they also have aspirations to work and deploy services. So absolutely we have enabled them also....Sometimes the customer is saying, Nortel, we want you to do this. And in some cases they continue to work with their channel partners.

    The other major point when it comes to the ICA was Microsoft and Nortel's assurance they the two companies would do joint R&D together and come out with original new products for the UC space. Ruchi Prasad said that, while this hasn't happened as of the current announcement, "Absolutely you will see that. The first step was integrating [existing products] and delivering value."

  • UC Integrated Branch, a new capability that lets the user deploy Microsoft's Mediation Server on Nortel's branch office-based Secure Router 4134. This lets enterprises combine these two capabilities on a single box at the branch, a clear benefit. Mediation Server is where Microsoft clients are transcoded from the proprietary Microsoft codec into standard codecs, and where OCS handles NAT traversal.

  • Carrier Hosted Unified Communications, a system that integrates Nortel's carrier-grade CS2000 with Microsoft OCS and Exchange Server 2007.

  • Nortel Multimedia Conferencing 5.0 for OCS 2007, which lets companies use the MCS5100 capabilities for audioconferencing, to connect to the PSTN, while using OCS 2007 for videoconferencing.

    In a joint briefing, Ruchi Prasad, VP and GM of ICA at Nortel and Craig Schuman, Director of Business Development and Strategy for the UC Group at Microsoft expanded on this announcement:

    "When we went out with the alliance a little over a year ago, we knew people were going, 'Aah, [they're] not gonna come up with much,'" Craig Schuman told me. "But the goal here is really to show not only were the naysayers wrong, but to really come out with real complete solutions, showing that not only can two big companies come together, but really focusing on that vision of the software-centric approach. So we're real pleased and we're excited about where we're going from here."

    Schuman also said that, going forward, hosted services and contact center are 2 key areas of focus from Microsoft's perspective. On hosting

    the key there is ensuring Centrex customers that they can accelerate their move to UC.

    But also and importantly, the contact center integration: We take Nortel's Contact Center application, which is industry-leading, and you combine that with Office Communications Server. The customer's going to benefit in a lot of ways. It enables new customer touch points and it leverages the rich presence and collaboration capabilities to improve that first call resolution.

    I asked Ruchi and Craig about some things that weren't covered in the release, but that a lot of analysts are saying represent key proof points as to whether the ICA really succeeds, especially from Nortel's perspective. One of the big issues here is Nortel's stated aim of using ICA and its Microsoft relationship to transform itself into more of a services company. On that score, there seems to have been significant progress--Ruchi Prasad said that 40% of all OCS-certified technicians are Nortel employees, and this figure is 23% for LCS certifications.

    Ruchi also addressed the delicate balance that Nortel has to strike as it attempts to go heavier into the services business:

    Absolutely we've been doing a lot of the deployments. We haven't published the numbers. But at the same time, we've also been working on enabling our channel partners. Because based on different channel partners which we work with, whether the large carriers or the independent channel partners, they also have aspirations to work and deploy services. So absolutely we have enabled them also....Sometimes the customer is saying, Nortel, we want you to do this. And in some cases they continue to work with their channel partners.

    The other major point when it comes to the ICA was Microsoft and Nortel's assurance they the two companies would do joint R&D together and come out with original new products for the UC space. Ruchi Prasad said that, while this hasn't happened as of the current announcement, "Absolutely you will see that. The first step was integrating [existing products] and delivering value."

  • Carrier Hosted Unified Communications, a system that integrates Nortel's carrier-grade CS2000 with Microsoft OCS and Exchange Server 2007.

  • Nortel Multimedia Conferencing 5.0 for OCS 2007, which lets companies use the MCS5100 capabilities for audioconferencing, to connect to the PSTN, while using OCS 2007 for videoconferencing.

    In a joint briefing, Ruchi Prasad, VP and GM of ICA at Nortel and Craig Schuman, Director of Business Development and Strategy for the UC Group at Microsoft expanded on this announcement:

    "When we went out with the alliance a little over a year ago, we knew people were going, 'Aah, [they're] not gonna come up with much,'" Craig Schuman told me. "But the goal here is really to show not only were the naysayers wrong, but to really come out with real complete solutions, showing that not only can two big companies come together, but really focusing on that vision of the software-centric approach. So we're real pleased and we're excited about where we're going from here."

    Schuman also said that, going forward, hosted services and contact center are 2 key areas of focus from Microsoft's perspective. On hosting

    the key there is ensuring Centrex customers that they can accelerate their move to UC.

    But also and importantly, the contact center integration: We take Nortel's Contact Center application, which is industry-leading, and you combine that with Office Communications Server. The customer's going to benefit in a lot of ways. It enables new customer touch points and it leverages the rich presence and collaboration capabilities to improve that first call resolution.

    I asked Ruchi and Craig about some things that weren't covered in the release, but that a lot of analysts are saying represent key proof points as to whether the ICA really succeeds, especially from Nortel's perspective. One of the big issues here is Nortel's stated aim of using ICA and its Microsoft relationship to transform itself into more of a services company. On that score, there seems to have been significant progress--Ruchi Prasad said that 40% of all OCS-certified technicians are Nortel employees, and this figure is 23% for LCS certifications.

    Ruchi also addressed the delicate balance that Nortel has to strike as it attempts to go heavier into the services business:

    Absolutely we've been doing a lot of the deployments. We haven't published the numbers. But at the same time, we've also been working on enabling our channel partners. Because based on different channel partners which we work with, whether the large carriers or the independent channel partners, they also have aspirations to work and deploy services. So absolutely we have enabled them also....Sometimes the customer is saying, Nortel, we want you to do this. And in some cases they continue to work with their channel partners.

    The other major point when it comes to the ICA was Microsoft and Nortel's assurance they the two companies would do joint R&D together and come out with original new products for the UC space. Ruchi Prasad said that, while this hasn't happened as of the current announcement, "Absolutely you will see that. The first step was integrating [existing products] and delivering value."

  • Nortel Multimedia Conferencing 5.0 for OCS 2007, which lets companies use the MCS5100 capabilities for audioconferencing, to connect to the PSTN, while using OCS 2007 for videoconferencing.

    In a joint briefing, Ruchi Prasad, VP and GM of ICA at Nortel and Craig Schuman, Director of Business Development and Strategy for the UC Group at Microsoft expanded on this announcement:

    "When we went out with the alliance a little over a year ago, we knew people were going, 'Aah, [they're] not gonna come up with much,'" Craig Schuman told me. "But the goal here is really to show not only were the naysayers wrong, but to really come out with real complete solutions, showing that not only can two big companies come together, but really focusing on that vision of the software-centric approach. So we're real pleased and we're excited about where we're going from here."

    Schuman also said that, going forward, hosted services and contact center are 2 key areas of focus from Microsoft's perspective. On hosting

    the key there is ensuring Centrex customers that they can accelerate their move to UC.

    But also and importantly, the contact center integration: We take Nortel's Contact Center application, which is industry-leading, and you combine that with Office Communications Server. The customer's going to benefit in a lot of ways. It enables new customer touch points and it leverages the rich presence and collaboration capabilities to improve that first call resolution.

    I asked Ruchi and Craig about some things that weren't covered in the release, but that a lot of analysts are saying represent key proof points as to whether the ICA really succeeds, especially from Nortel's perspective. One of the big issues here is Nortel's stated aim of using ICA and its Microsoft relationship to transform itself into more of a services company. On that score, there seems to have been significant progress--Ruchi Prasad said that 40% of all OCS-certified technicians are Nortel employees, and this figure is 23% for LCS certifications.

    Ruchi also addressed the delicate balance that Nortel has to strike as it attempts to go heavier into the services business:

    Absolutely we've been doing a lot of the deployments. We haven't published the numbers. But at the same time, we've also been working on enabling our channel partners. Because based on different channel partners which we work with, whether the large carriers or the independent channel partners, they also have aspirations to work and deploy services. So absolutely we have enabled them also....Sometimes the customer is saying, Nortel, we want you to do this. And in some cases they continue to work with their channel partners.

    The other major point when it comes to the ICA was Microsoft and Nortel's assurance they the two companies would do joint R&D together and come out with original new products for the UC space. Ruchi Prasad said that, while this hasn't happened as of the current announcement, "Absolutely you will see that. The first step was integrating [existing products] and delivering value."

    In a joint briefing, Ruchi Prasad, VP and GM of ICA at Nortel and Craig Schuman, Director of Business Development and Strategy for the UC Group at Microsoft expanded on this announcement:

    "When we went out with the alliance a little over a year ago, we knew people were going, 'Aah, [they're] not gonna come up with much,'" Craig Schuman told me. "But the goal here is really to show not only were the naysayers wrong, but to really come out with real complete solutions, showing that not only can two big companies come together, but really focusing on that vision of the software-centric approach. So we're real pleased and we're excited about where we're going from here."

    Schuman also said that, going forward, hosted services and contact center are 2 key areas of focus from Microsoft's perspective. On hosting

    the key there is ensuring Centrex customers that they can accelerate their move to UC.

    But also and importantly, the contact center integration: We take Nortel's Contact Center application, which is industry-leading, and you combine that with Office Communications Server. The customer's going to benefit in a lot of ways. It enables new customer touch points and it leverages the rich presence and collaboration capabilities to improve that first call resolution.

    But also and importantly, the contact center integration: We take Nortel's Contact Center application, which is industry-leading, and you combine that with Office Communications Server. The customer's going to benefit in a lot of ways. It enables new customer touch points and it leverages the rich presence and collaboration capabilities to improve that first call resolution.

    I asked Ruchi and Craig about some things that weren't covered in the release, but that a lot of analysts are saying represent key proof points as to whether the ICA really succeeds, especially from Nortel's perspective. One of the big issues here is Nortel's stated aim of using ICA and its Microsoft relationship to transform itself into more of a services company. On that score, there seems to have been significant progress--Ruchi Prasad said that 40% of all OCS-certified technicians are Nortel employees, and this figure is 23% for LCS certifications.

    Ruchi also addressed the delicate balance that Nortel has to strike as it attempts to go heavier into the services business:

    Absolutely we've been doing a lot of the deployments. We haven't published the numbers. But at the same time, we've also been working on enabling our channel partners. Because based on different channel partners which we work with, whether the large carriers or the independent channel partners, they also have aspirations to work and deploy services. So absolutely we have enabled them also....Sometimes the customer is saying, Nortel, we want you to do this. And in some cases they continue to work with their channel partners.

    The other major point when it comes to the ICA was Microsoft and Nortel's assurance they the two companies would do joint R&D together and come out with original new products for the UC space. Ruchi Prasad said that, while this hasn't happened as of the current announcement, "Absolutely you will see that. The first step was integrating [existing products] and delivering value."