Unified comms the next tech nirvana

Roadmaps needed not buzzwords

The term unified communications is just a buzzword if there is no roadmap to lead corporate users to this new tech nirvana which promises to create a new kind of knowledge worker.

For the enterprise, unified communications is the next step in creating a more efficient, 'always on' business environment.

It means migrating from traditional communications to convergence, and finally unified comms, the tech ideal that takes collaboration to the next level.

Speaking at a CIO Magazine breakfast in Sydney tomorrow, Nortel CTO Phil Edholm, will provide a step by step introduction on how to create a 'virtual enterprise'.

Recognizing that an effective, long-term comms strategy is a CIO priority, Edholm will talk about the value of this new concept and how it will impact business.

"Unified communications reduces the time it takes to make decisions by integrating all messaging; about 90 percent of the time it takes to make a decision is wasted time with people waiting for responses from voicemails and e-mails that are sitting in queues," he said.

Edholm will be joined at the breakfast seminar by Shara Evans, the founder of research firm, Market Clarity, and Paul Grady, the director of unified comms at Microsoft Australia.

To provide the right product set to deliver unified comms, Microsoft and Nortel last year formed an alliance to jointly develop products integrating VoIP, messaging server and desktop software.

Customers can expect to go from a separate PBX and separate server environments to one where Nortel's VoIP servers deliver the full telephony experience with both platforms running on standard Intel architecture. The first round of products will ship later this year and has been welcomed by large organizations such as energy giant Shell.

The petroleum company, which has 112,000 employees, plans to consolidate its entire voice and messaging infrastructure over the next three to five years using jointly developed Nortel and Microsoft products.

"Putting hardware into remote countries is a nightmare," according to Shell's IT architect, Johan Krebbers.

With hundreds of PBXs and e-mail servers worldwide, all voice and messaging applications will be centrally hosted in three data centres.

As part of the alliance, the vendors will offer combined support for e-mail, phone calls, instant messaging and other forms of communication that are designed to tie Office and other Microsoft products to voice and data networks.

The alliance aggressively challenges Cisco and Avaya.

The executive director of the Nortel Networks Users Association, Victor Bohnert, said the alliance goes deeper than what other vendors are doing and IT managers will respond to the Microsoft-Nortel message once they actually have a chance to see the joint technology.

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