HP serves up Nortel telephony

Nortel Networks yesterday announced its decision to provide computer manufacturers with some of its telephony products in response to users needing converged voice and data networks.

Previously, Nortel's telephony applications were available only with the company's proprietary systems. But Nortel has decided to sell its applications to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) because more and more companies want to unify their voice and data services, company officials said yesterday.

Having telephony applications run on an open systems server in the corporate network instead of in a proprietary system is a step in the direction of bringing voice and data traffic together, officials said.

Hewlett-Packard will be the first computer maker to include Nortel products in its systems. HP announced yesterday that it plans to ship by mid year two new communications servers that will feature Nortel telephony applications, use processors from Intel and run on Microsoft's Windows NT server.

The HP Business Communications Server will be aimed at small and medium-sized business and will ship with Nortel's voice portfolio of telephony applications for things like PBX services and voice mail. Users can also add more advanced Nortel Voice applications to enable, for example, IP (Internet Protocol) telephony and unified messaging services.

Meanwhile, the HP Business Messaging Server, for medium-sized and large businesses, will feature Nortel's CallPilot messaging product designed to let users manage a variety of messages -- via voice mail, e-mail and fax -- from a single interface on their PCs.

Steve Rust, Asia Pacific region director of Nortel Networks' Enterprise Solutions division, said the biggest user benefit is the ability to access voice, e-mail and fax messages from one central platform.

Rust claimed the Nortel, HP, Microsoft, Intel partnership is led by user demand for simplified marketing, rejecting suggestions.

"We think the user market is looking for simplified networking solutions," he said.

Participating in yesterday's announcement were John Roth, Nortel's vice chairman and CEO; Lew Platt, HP's chairman, president and CEO; Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and CEO; and Craig Barrett, Intel's president and CEO.

"What we've come together to announce is something that will make business simpler," Platt said. "We check e-mail messages on our computers, voice mail messages on our telephones, and (we) run back and forth to fax machines to get other information . . . The existence of all these different worlds frankly makes life very complex."

HP will be in charge of selling and supporting the new servers.

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