Nortel Networks has launched version 2 of its Multimedia Communications Server (MCS) 5100 worldwide.
The product includes a hardware server that links to "virtually any" PBX system, and a software client that shows the online presence of co-workers, sets up IP telephony, video, chat or other communications and shares content.
It looks a lot like an instant messager product, as offered for free by Yahoo, America Online and Microsoft's MSN, combined with an IP telephony system such as Skype or NetMeeting, but connected to a corporate voice network.
Nortel claimed the product saves the company $28m on a $6m investment, simply by replacing mobile calls with IP telephony and calls out from the corporate PBX.
Unlike IM, and standalone internet phone applications, the product can reach out to people on the phone network, through its link to the PBX, but it can be set to take the least-cost or the best function route to get to someone. It already has around 10,000 users, 5,000 of those within Nortel.
BT and Nortel already use it on laptops, rather than on smart phones - which could send voice over a Bluetooth laptop and bypass the phone network making it as convenient as a mobile
However, the product does not link out to other IM systems yet, and users cannot link to the MCS server without a secure link into the corporate network, so it is limited in its use for collaboration between companies.
MCS can also import Outlook contact data and the Outlook client can launch phone calls using it.
Peter Judge writes for Techworld.com