Open Port and Optus Join Forces

Agreement designed to aid both companies on the road to universal messaging.

Open Port Technology Inc. (Chicago, www.openport.com) and Optus Software Inc. (Somerset, N.J., www.facsys.com) announced at the recent Fax Directions ‘98/Messaging World trade show that they have signed a worldwide co-marketing and licensing agreement. The companies will take advantage of each other’s complementary products to advance their push toward universal messaging, which promises to allow users to access all their messages, whether voice, fax, e-mail or video, from a single location

Under the agreement, Open Port licensed products from Optus’ Facsys fax messaging server product line, and Optus agreed to develop products using Open Port’s Internet gateway technology, which will allow Optus products to route fax messages over Open Port-enabled IP networks.

Vendors have been striving toward the goal of universal messaging for several years. The race has heated up during the past year because of the increased number of messages and the variety of message sources, according to Omey Nandyal, chief technology officer for Open Port. In the past, universal messaging was important only for a small percentage of highly mobile workers, Nandyal says. "Now all of a sudden, we’re getting into Web and e-mail-centric stuff, and we’re starting to address the guy that sits at his desktop," he explains.

In order to deliver messages to a universal inbox on the desktop (usually a Microsoft Exchange or Outlook client), Open Port released a new version of its Harmony NSP Internet Telephony solution in April. The new version is built on a messaging platform that will eventually be able to transport fax, voice and video messages. Currently, fax support is available, Nandyal says.

In June, Open Port signed an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to embed some of the company’s protocols into Microsoft products, including Windows NT. "It puts a ton of Open Port-enabled systems in the marketplace very quickly," Nandyal says. Microsoft has also invested in Open Port.

For Optus, the agreement with Open Port adds a pure Internet delivery dimension to Optus’ Workflow Partner program, according to Joseph Avellino, Optus’ president. Optus already has agreements with local and wide-area fax vendors and with fax service providers, he says.

In June, Optus released a new version of Facsys that was re-engineered to enable developers to add fax capability to applications, allowing users to fax documents directly from a variety of applications, Avellino explains. Thanks to Optus’ agreements with its Workflow partners, the Facsys administrator can configure the system to automatically use the most effective and cost-efficient transport method for the fax. "The big traffic’s going to come from major shops driving traffic from high-end apps," Avellino says.