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Summary:

The slow train that is the Microsoft-Nortel Voice over IP partnership made another whistle stop Wednesday in New York, where some fruits of the labor were announced, including a remote-office server that combines telecom and communications functionality. Wooo. Since the products aren’t due out until Q4, […]

The slow train that is the Microsoft-Nortel Voice over IP partnership made another whistle stop Wednesday in New York, where some fruits of the labor were announced, including a remote-office server that combines telecom and communications functionality. Wooo. Since the products aren’t due out until Q4, we have some time to think about whether this partnership benefits the companies more than their intended target, enterprise customers.

Matthias Machowinski, enterprise voice and data analyst at Infonetics Research, shares some of my doubts about the attractiveness of a Microsoft-Nortel offering but also notes that there is a problem there to be solved. “In our user research, unified messaging has been at the top of the needs list for several years now,” says Machowinski.

The question for enterprise customers is whether you want to lock your communications infrastructure so tightly to a Microsoft-Nortel scheme, or whether you want to make your plan standards-based, giving you more future options as things like SIP become more hardened and prevalent.

Rich Tehrani mirrors another of my questions, about how the deal might affect customers who want to use Microsoft software with infrastructure gear from Cisco or Avaya. While the companies trumpet the signing of dozens of deals, is it really a wedding that benefits users, or just another celebrity pairing meant to attract attention?

Machowinski says it’s a great deal for Nortel, since the company gets to leverage Microsoft’s desktop dominance. And Microsoft can use Nortel’s telecom experience to get the telecom ball rolling. “If LCS business starts to mirror Exchange, that’s pretty nice for Microsoft,” Machowinski says. But is Microsoft-Nortel the answer for enterprises? “It may or may not be something people want, but I can think of plenty who don’t want it,” Machowinski says.

Tehrani notes that it might not also be the best answer for Nortel or other telecom-gear makers:

The challenge for the communications industry is to partner with the software leader while not developing an environment where the PBX vendor becomes unnecessary… After all, with HMP, SIP and VoIP you can build a PBX on Linux with limited hardware costs. Will an Asterisk server be the equivalent of a Nortel PBX as they both interoperate with the Microsoft front-end?

Good question, and one for enterprises to answer while they wait for Microsoft-Nortel offerings to become reality.

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  1. I’m not sure what huge advantage a Nortel/MS customer will get from “Unified Messaging” that we don’t already have with Cisco/MS. Cisco Voip products and Exchange/Outlook have been pretty tightly integrated for a while now and I’ve managed a full Cisco/MS shop that worked pretty darn well.

    Also, how badly is this going to piss off Cisco? Don’t get me wrong, I think Cisco’s voice stuff is priced REALLY high (and Nortel’s isn’t right?) so I welcome the competition in the unified messaging space. But will this open the door for Cisco to create partnerships with some open source channels such as OpenOffice? Would Cisco possibly start giving away some of their desktop software to Enterprise Voip clients?

    Probably not. Most likely they’ll just go acquire some random company to flex their muscle (only partially kidding), but I don’t think giving away some of their software is that bad of an idea.

  2. It’s funny how Nortel copies what Mitel does. Mitel has had a partnership with Microsoft for a long time and, if you go to a Microsoft LCS booth you’ll find Mitel phones.

  3. Is Microsoft/Nortel VoIP for Them or You? « V2V Newsclips Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    […] Share/Send […]

  4. How can you compare Mitel with Nortel? there are two different things, Mitel is a low end cheap solution, very arrogant to say THAT NORTEL COPIES MITEL, JAJAJA

    And the Cisco guy well, I am sorry but the Cisco CM is a bunch of expensive junk, you end up buying all the Prima Donas (sales guys) and their expensive cars, suits, watches and golf games.

    Put down the crack pipe and pick up the want adds.

  5. GigaOM » Before VoIP Utopia, Reality Thursday, March 8, 2007

    [...] than buffing up their revenue streams? While they wait to lead businesses to the promised land pledging to tie together communications like voice, IM and email, and to integrate them with business applications (bet you just [...]

  6. GigaOM » Why Cisco bought WebEx for $3.2 billion? Thursday, March 15, 2007

    [...] with its communications efforts is increasingly competing with Cisco in the VoIP business. The two companies will continue to butt heads as the [...]

  7. Does anyone know of any good docs/examples of a CS1000K and Microsoft UM deployment? I have MS docs galore on how to deply enterprise voice…

    Thanks!

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