Nortel joins with IBM System i series servers for VOIP

Nortel and IBM team up on VoIP for SMBs

Nortel Networks announced plans Tuesday to help small and medium-size businesses move to voice over IP and unified communications by combining Nortel applications with IBM System i servers.

The announcement was made at Global Connect 2007, a user association meeting in Tampa, Fla. The combined technologies will be available to customers in October, said Lori McLean, general manager of the Nortel-IBM alliance, in an interview. Pricing was not announced.

The new initiative "effectively converts the System i operating system into an IP private branch exchange," McLean said. "The integrated solution makes the move to IP telephony along with unified communications as easy as a software upgrade on IBM System i."

With a new System i model announced in April by IBM selling as low as US$8,000, the combined technology will be able to provide as little as five VOIP lines, she said, noting that "it scales dramatically."

3Com has combined VOIP and other applications with System i for more than nine months, announcing medium-size customers last October. And in March, 3Com announced additional capabilities on the System i.

McLean said the Nortel partnership will offer more multimedia and unified communications capabilities than what 3Com offers. Moreover, she said, the systems will be easier to deploy.

Nortel provides a portfolio of products for small and medium-size businesses, even though it has outfitted some of the largest businesses and carriers in the world. The products, such as the Business Communications Manager, Business Ethernet Switch and Business Secure Router, will complement the new combined product, called Nortel-IBM System i Unified Communications solution, McLean said. The new technology goes into smaller businesses and branch offices than BCM, McLean added.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Research, said the System i combinations with both 3Com and Nortel applications are only suited for smaller businesses, since larger ones wouldn't want to combine VOIP and systems servers.

He said the newly announced Nortel offering "in theory" should do well, although a similar offering has not been that effective for 3Com so far.

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