Nortel and Microsoft's Innovative Communications Alliance is a never-ending source of fascination to me. Not so much for the various solutions they introduce, though these are of course interesting in their own right, but for the direction they are clearly trying to move the industry. This direction was crystallized in a few words this week by Ruchi Prasad, Nortel's VP and GM of the ICA. She drew a line between the current state of business communications affairs, in which a PBX plays such a central role, and the next state where Microsoft is trying to move things by transforming the way voice systems are implemented. It's something Ruchi called "the transformed state:" The transformed state is a PBX-less environment. ... We are providing a bridge to this transformed environment.