Microsoft and Nortel have unveiled a roadmap to help enterprises adopt unified communications platforms.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski outlined the companies' plans at a New York event earlier this month.
The roadmap is the result of an alliance between Microsoft and Nortel announced in July 2006. It includes three initiatives to improve business communications by breaking down the barriers between voice, e-mail, instant messaging, multimedia conferencing and other forms of communication.
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Zafirovski said, "Our goal is to close the gap between the devices we use to communicate and the business applications we use to run our businesses, giving employees the power to use information more quickly and effectively."
Ballmer added, "Together, we will evolve voice over IP and unified communications to integrate all the ways we contact each other in a simple environment, using a single identity across phones, PCs and other devices."
The three new products from the pair include UC Integrated Branch, a combination of Microsoft and Nortel software run on a single piece of hardware.
UC Integrated Branch is planned for release in the fourth quarter of this year, and will deliver "cost-effective, high-quality and easy-to-deploy VoIP and unified communications in remote offices".
In addition, the two companies will deliver a conferencing offering that they say will extend the feature set of Nortel Multimedia Conferencing to the Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 platform.
This product aims to deliver a single, familiar client experience across applications such as voice, instant messaging, presence and videoconferencing.
In 2007 the companies also plan to extend current unified communications - a unified desktop and soft phone for VoIP, e-mail, instant messaging and presence - to the Nortel Communication Server 2100, a carrier-grade enterprise telephony product supporting up to 200,000 users on a single system.
Nortel and Microsoft presented a road map for 2008 and beyond for moving business communications onto a software platform designed to drive a higher-quality user experience and reduce total cost of ownership.
The 2008 roadmap will see the two companies introduce unified communications contact centre systems, Nortel feature server, expanded hosted unified communications, mobility and client products, and application-aware networking enhancements.
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