Nortel Unveils Enterprise Telephony Strategy

To keep pace with two of its close competitors, 3Com Corp. (www.3com.com) and Cisco Systems Inc., Nortel Networks Inc. (www.nortel.com) unveiled an enterprise telephony strategy.

A year after purchasing Bay Networks Inc., Nortel Networks is beginning the highly anticipated merging of product lines with its Internet Telephony strategy for enterprises, which includes nearly a dozen new IP-based products to unify telephony, data and video.

The strategy and products are founded on Nortel’s Internet Communications Architecture (Inca), an IP architecture based on open standards.

"Our approach is to provide enterprises with choices for upgrading their telephony networks and preparing their data networks for telephony using a policy-based Internet infrastructure," says Jim Long, president of enterprise solutions at Nortel Networks.

The convergence of voice and data, according to Long, will provide benefits that include improved employee productivity, enhanced customer relationships and new network economics.

Nortel's strategy is based on a dual approach of enabling data connectivity over the Nortel telephony product line and telephony over data-centric products, primarily what were Bay Networks products. Among the new products Nortel announced are Meridian IP solutions, a Windows NT-based call center and e-mail response server, and enhancements to Passport and Accelar.

Nortel Networks is also building telephony-grade data networks with its Accelar enterprise switch family, Passport Multi-Service Access switch family and BayStack multiservice router solutions.

Nortel Networks' Unified Network, Policy and Service Management solutions include features such as quality of service, queuing, prioritization and switch security. The Optivity Network Management System is being adopted across the entire enterprise Internet Telephony portfolio. It is being enhanced to support data and voice communication systems from Nortel Networks and other vendors.

Nortel Networks Internet Telephony solutions will feature open application programming interfaces (APIs) and system development kits. These will enable independent software developers, customers and partners to develop new and more powerful applications that combine voice and data.

Eddie Hold, senior analyst with the market research firm Current Analysis Inc. (www.currentanalysis.com), says this is the first solution capable of serving the needs of enterprise users. While 3Com and Cisco have similar offerings, their solutions are only capable of handling a couple hundred users.

"Approaching this from both the data and the voice sides makes it more useful," Hold says. "There are a few vendors that offer solutions without a lot of interest for what happens to the existing PBX."

Hold also says this strategy provides a strong migration path for customers.

"A migration path is important because no one wants to throw things that work away, especially expensive equipment like a PBX," he says. "PBXs last for a long, long time. It’s not like the data world, where you expect to replace equipment every three years or so."

Although Nortel may have the edge on a true enterprise-class solution, Hold says it will not be alone in this position for long. "Lucent is going to be a major player in this market, too."

 

Nortel Internet Telephony Product Roadmap

Passport 4400 Multi-Service Access Switch 4.0: This product will include enhancements to support telephony gateways as part of a multiservice solution for branch and regional office applications.

BayRS 13.20: Nortel Networks' multiprotocol routing software features Differentiated Services (DiffServ) -- a standards-based approach to application prioritization and bandwidth management.

Inca M10 Communication System: This system will be built on a policy-based network infrastructure and on an industry standard Windows NT server. It will leverage the quality of service enabled enterprise network to support new networkwide telephony applications.

Inca M1, Inca M100 and Inca M7500 Communication Systems: These platform-independent and highly distributed systems will consolidate telephony intelligence, connection management and standard protocol support over existing IP networks.

iRemote: The single or multiuser remote office voice-over-IP hardware and software solution will connect to the IP WAN to extend all the PBX digital telephones and features.

i3220 Internet Telephone: This solution will be the front end for Nortel’s network solution.