Nortel is looking to help small-to-medium business users by introducing an array of new stackable switches and by adding additional big-business phone features to its small-office IP PBX product.
The Nortel Business Ethernet Switch (BES) 210 series includes the ability to stack multiple boxes together to create a larger virtual switch, which can be more easily managed as one device, Nortel says. The company's BES 220 adds power over Ethernet to the stackable product. A new release of Nortel's Business Communications Manager (BCM) 50 for small offices -- fewer than 50 users -- includes call center, advanced messaging and international support features.
The BES 210 and 220 (both in 24- and 48-port 10/100/1000Mbps versions) join Nortel's other BES-branded LAN switches and other gear, announced in June, which are targeted at small companies with about 250 users or fewer.
The BES 210 adds stacking capabilities, allowing as many as eight switches to be linked by a 10Gbps dedicated interconnection cable. This feature lets attached devices see the switch as a single box, and provides fast inter-switch connectivity. The BES 220 includes this stacking feature, and adds power over Ethernet (PoE) to each port on the switch, for power standards-based IP phones, WLAN access points, and other PoE-compatible devices.
BCM 50 version 2 improves on the previous small-office IP PBX appliance with a small call-center feature that lets small groups in an office act as a contact center team; call routing and queuing, and customer call detail reports are some of the tings that can be set up for agents on the BCM 50.
The updated BCM 50 also includes new analog and Basic Rate Interface ISDN trunking ports, meant for international markets.
Nortel's BES LAN products compete with small-office gear such as 3Com's Baseline switch products, as well as Cisco's Linksys and lower-end Catalyst switches, and switch gear from HP. The BCM 50 is comparable to Avaya's IP Office, Cisco's CallManager Express, as well as SMB VOIP gear from Mitel, Zultys and others.
The BES 200 series switches range in price from US$600 to US$2,290. The BCM 50 costs $500 for a software upgrade to version 2.0. The BCM hardware costs $350 to $500 per seat, depending on configuration. The switches are available, while the BCM 50 upgrade is expected to be available in December.