BNS and Canadian vendor eye global IP gains

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Sydney developer Better Network Services (BNS) has won a leg-up into the global IP communications market with Canadian telecommunications hardware vendor Eicon Networks.

Sydney developer Better Network Services (BNS) has won a leg-up into the global IP communications market with Canadian telecommunications hardware vendor Eicon Networks.

Laurence Buchanan, sales and marketing director at BNS, said a two-year partnership with Eicon was helping BNS go global. BNS expected to reap 50 percent of this year's revenue from exports, he said.

"With Eicon, we're building a total export business," he said.

BNS had developed several messaging applications, including fax software that did not install components on Microsoft Exchange Server. That was a differentiator for BNS, Buchanan claimed.

Fax was back, he said.

New spam legislation and attitudes towards email marketing techniques meant that fax was seeing a comeback as a method for delivering marketing messages. Although fax was expensive, it was getting increasingly costly to manage email, he pointed out.

"Will they ever legislate against fax spam?" Buchanan asked. "I don't know. It's a good question."

Large service providers such as EDS and IBM were likely to find the application attractive as it was not client-based, he said. BNS had been working on fax applications for Exchange since that Microsoft application was first released in 1996, he said.

"A second key point is that we didn't extend the Active Directory schema. So large integrators and even smaller customers appreciate that because it's a low-risk deployment," Buchanan said. "If you extend the schema, then it really has to be tested extensively. You're looking at months, and once you've extended it, you can't un-extend it."

Eicon hardware had undergone more than 12 months of testing and evaluation to ensure it was suitable for BNS' needs, Buchanan said.

Further, Eicon had been unusually helpful to its smaller ISV partner, he added. BNS has six staff, and offices in Sydney and Canberra.

"We're going to Germany to meet with their R&D in August ... they actually listen to us," Buchanan said.

Chew Weng Hock, GM for Montreal-based Eicon Networks in south-east Asia, India and Australia, said the 14-year-old company -- which operated in 60 nations -- was seeking more partners, particularly ISVs.

Eicon, which has one Australia-based staff member, focused on Microsoft and Linux-based communications products for networked PCs and partnered with ISVs to produce business applications around its hardware, he said.

"What we do is provide the hardware platform and our partners provide the software application and take the whole package to our customers," Chew said. "We don't have direct sales."

The company had about 10 partners in Australia, but BNS had developed a 'quite interesting' fax and messaging application which could use Eicon's Diva Server boxes, he said.

Such applications were well-placed to take advantage of the boom in IP-based telecommunications. "We're targeting the upper SMB and lower end of the enterprise market," Chew said. "We have a new focus on messaging."

More companies sought to integrate traditional PABX function with networked PCs and integrate that with all critical business applications, he said.

"Previously, we had products only on the digital platform. Next quarter, we'll be releasing analogue products so you can also run your traditional telephony line [over it], not just the ISDN, and towards the end of the year, we'll be releasing higher density products, from 60 channels to 120 channels," Chew said.

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