HP, Partners Offer IP-Based Unified Messaging

BOSTON (06/05/2000) - Hewlett-Packard Co., Cisco Systems Inc. and Software.com Inc. today announced what they claim is the first "open," IP-based Unified Communications (UC) system, which is designed to enable service providers to offer end-users enhanced messaging and call-management services.

UC is an extension of unified messaging -- singular access to voice, fax and e-mail messages -- by adding real-time call management to both inbound and outbound communications, the companies said. UC is also based on an IP (Internet Protocol) architecture that offers converged services, such as voice, video and data. The companies claim that unified messaging offerings up to now have been legacy and proprietary because they are not based on IP.

The companies cite data from several market research firms showing that the UC market will be worth US$5.5 billion in 2002, growing to $31 billion in 2006.

Growth is driven by wireless and bundled service offerings, they said.

With UC, service providers can collect, notify and deliver messages to customers, irrespective of their location, time or access device. Service providers benefit with rapid time-to-market, reduced risk, increased revenue, increased market penetration and improved customer loyalty, the companies said.

UC can help service providers tap into the 125 million hosted voice mailboxes worldwide, and deliver a maximum of 25 million unified messaging boxes projected to be in service by 2003, the companies said. They added that UC will also enable service providers to carry the 250 billion pages projected to be faxed over IP in 2004.

A few service providers today announced that they are now offering UC services based on the companies' new system. The service providers are iBasis, a provider of Internet-based communications services; Cities On Line, an Italian service provider; and Nhancement Technologies, a North American service provider and applications development company.

Components of the joint solution announced today include the following:

-- HP Services for integration, deployment and support.

-- HP OpenView for management and HP Smart Internet Usage for usage metering.

-- HP-UX server platform and HP SureStore E Disk Array.

-- Cisco's uOne software and Cisco connectivity hardware.

-- Software.com's InterMail platform for messaging access, notification, data storage and LDAP Directory services.

The UC offering does not contain any new products or technology per se, but is more of a uniform integration service and an announcement of initial customers, said John MacFarlane, chief executive officer of Software.com. HP Services will manage the complete UC life-cycle, from planning and design through integration, implementation, support and maintenance.

The joint UC offering is available now from HP.

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