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Nortel Rolls out BCM450 Release 1 for the SMB Market

This morning Nortel announced Release 1 of the BCM450 for the SMB market. During the analyst call here is what I gleaned to be good about this announcement: It smoothes out their product offerings for the SMB market because it's scalable, provides up to 70% investment protection with any previous product such as Norstar, it's energy efficient, and continues to help pave the way for the migration to IP. This new offering also has feature parity with the BCM50.GA on the product is almost immediately and they have trained a huge amount of their channel partners already. They emphasized that they needed to get the product out the door and even moved up the announcement by six weeks. I can see their need to get the BCM450 out as quickly as possible. However, in doing so the initial release lacks several things that I feel should be in this release, including basic IVR functionality, redundancy and notably, integrated presence capabilities. They also said that Release 1 of unified messaging would be ported slightly after Release 1 (in their press release they mentioned one to two months).

It was this last point that had me shaking my head a bit, and from the questions asked on the call, I wasn't the only one. Not only is Nortel duking it out in the UC arena with everyone else, their entire press release on the announcement was focused on its UC capabilities, starting with "A new solution from Nortel [NYSE/TSX: NT ] makes it easier for medium-sized businesses with up to 300 employees to evolve to unified communications. By connecting people faster, improving collaboration and speeding up the time to decision, Nortel estimates that unified communications can help businesses realize cost-savings and an increase in productivity of up to 18 percent."

Isn't presence the glue that holds UC together? Well, their answer was that they have UC solutions for the BCM450, but customers will need to go through third parties to get them, and that they wouldn't be integrating presence directly into the product until market adoption warrants it, or something along the lines of "as soon as the market demonstrates that SMB wants UC then they will deliver presence." I'm not sure if I'm objecting more to the fact that the initial release doesn't have presence and IVR, or to the fact that the product doesn't match the spin of their press release and their reasoning doesn't match what a market leader hyping UC would do. You can look at it two ways, either the market demands it and then you deliver, or you believe in the market and you help create it.

They did say that they support a new process of releasing features and functions not tied to their normal release schedule. Who knows, they might deliver any of the left out items next week, I just thought they shouldn't hype what they didn't immediately have, and instead focus in the media on what they were immediately delivering.