Nortel, Microsoft unite on high-availability data

Nortel Networks and Microsoft Tuesday announced a partnership to bring "preconfigured, pretested" managed application services tools to carriers.

At the SuperComm 2001 show, the companies unveiled an integrated data center offering designed to provide high availability managed services. The offering, called Continuously Available Managed Services, is intended to provide service providers with new revenue streams beyond commodity connectivity services, Microsoft and Nortel say.

"Ninety-five percent of service provider revenue comes from pure connectivity services, where margins are declining," says Anil Khatod, Nortel's chief marketing and strategy officer. "They have to offer value-added services."

Continuously Available Managed Services is designed to connect geographically distributed data centers to reduce or eliminate single points of failure and provide continuous availability of hosted software services. It combines Microsoft Windows 2000 servers, Microsoft .Net enterprise servers, and Web services with Nortel's optical, content networks, and IP routers and switches.

By linking data centers, service providers will be able to reduce the cost of purchasing, configuring and maintaining redundant systems for application backup and data replication and recovery, the companies say. By improving availability, service provider can offer service-level agreements (SLA) for application hosting.

"The No. 1 obstacle in the [application service provider] model is offering SLAs," Khatod says. "This is taking dead aim at relieving that concern."

The Continuously Available Managed Services offering is also designed to help service providers rapidly provision new services to entice enterprises to outsource more of their application processing and networking operations.

"Pretesting takes away the concern that this will really work," Khatod says.

The offering is being tested at two or three large carriers the companies declined to disclose, and will be available by year-end.

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