Vendors ally with Microsoft at Voicecon

Polycom, HP and NET forge ahead with Microsoft-compatible unified communications

At Voicecon's opening Monday in Orlando, vendors are poised to push unified communications and Microsoft is stepping into the spotlight by announcing alliances with other vendors whose gear interoperates with Microsoft Office Communications Server.

Polycom, HP and NET are expanding relationships with Microsoft in order to better integrate with OCS and the company's UC products.

Cisco telepresence cuts near $1M in travel costs for law firm

Polycom is expanding its relationship with Microsoft with the announcement of IP conference phones optimized for OCS that will be available by the end of June. HP will resell NET's UC gateway as a way to support Microsoft UC. The NET VX gear is built specifically to support Microsoft UC.

HP is also announcing the Survivable Branch Communication zl Module for its Procurve Switch 8200zl and 5400zl switches that supports traditional phone network backup for VoIP infrastructure based on Microsoft UC.

Meanwhile, Polycom is announcing a stronger relationship with HP, which will resell all of Polycom's product line. This follows the severing last month of the reseller agreement the companies had with Cisco, which is buying Polycom rival Tandberg.

During the show, Avaya's CEO Kevin Kennedy will try to draw a contrast between this type of custom collaboration with Microsoft vs. Avaya's vision of open Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) implementations. He characterizes SIP implementations by Microsoft and Cisco as closed and unsuited for multivendor environments. The intent of these vendors, he says, is to lock customers in to their products rather than interoperate with other vendors' gear.

Avaya's open model will better support innovation because multiple vendors will be able to quickly create applications that can be readily absorbed into an open SIP infrastructure, he says, rather than be customized for a vendor using more restricted protocols. Avaya's main push over the past year has been to establish its gear as a mediator among SIP platforms regardless of vendor.

Kennedy says that characteristic has served Avaya well because the past year has seen the consolidation of businesses that results in larger entities with diverse communications infrastructure. Avaya gear has enabled some of them to unite their disparate equipment into unified networks, he says.

Also at VoiceCon, Verizon plans to announce a service that links Cisco telepresence customers to each other via a new exchange that also offers concierge services to make scheduling conferences and connecting simpler. The service, called Immersive Video Conferencing Service for Cisco Telepresence, has a start-up fee that includes training and setting up gear so it works properly. All parties to conferences have to be Verizon customers.

Verizon is announcing that its SIP-trunking service is certified by Microsoft as compatible with Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2007 Revision 2. This means that customers using the service can get Microsoft technical support if they have problems with VoIP connections that run over the network.

Also at the show Sipera plans to announce a version of its Secure Live Communications client for iPhones, making possible to encrypt all traffic to and from the phones. The phones can become VoIP extensions of enterprise voice and data networks without risking corporate information.

Voicecon is the launchpad for a Nortel UC platform for carriers that can be used to provision UC, VoIP and collaboration services for business customers. Called Carrier VoIP and Application Solutions, the platform lets customers move from TDM to IP-based communications without investing in infrastructure of their own.

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