Microsoft and Nortel gang up on Cisco

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Microsoft and Nortel gang up on Cisco

Unified communications battle lines being drawn.

Unified communications battle lines being drawn.

Microsoft's recently sealed alliance with Nortel to develop and deliver a common set of software for unified communications will take the two firms head-to-head with Avaya and Cisco, Gartner has predicted.

The tie-up should provide a clearer path toward converged communications embracing telephony, voice mail, the processing of VoIP, presence, chat, email, instant messaging and multimedia conferencing, according to a Gartner analysis by Bern Elliot, Steve Blood and Steve Cramoysan.

"The deal tilts the field of business communications decisively towards dependence on software that may become a commodity. It will put Microsoft and Nortel into competition with Cisco, Avaya and others in a large but nascent market," the report stated.

The comments come after Microsoft and Nortel announced an alliance last week to develop and sell unified communications technologies.

Under the terms of the agreement the companies have committed to a four-year extendable agreement to share intellectual property to jointly develop systems and services for enterprises and service providers.

"As result of this alliance, Microsoft gets a credible partner and valuable channel in voice, and gets to provide the unifying platform for a range of voice applications from Nortel," said Gartner.

"However, Microsoft may be putting at risk some of its other partnerships with companies such as Genesys and Siemens.

"Nortel is accepting that there is an inflection point in the world of voice communications and that its future lies in software and services.

"It now has to develop a new identity as an application developer and provider of systems integration and related services.

"However, it risks becoming overly dependent on Microsoft and having to avoid competing with other partners in some product areas."

Although Microsoft and Nortel aim to deliver products from this alliance in the second quarter of 2007, Gartner pointed out that enterprises will continue to need multi-vendor systems until their technology matures.

According to the analyst firm, enterprises should consider the products available today as a first step toward unified communications.

They should review the road map from Microsoft and Nortel when it appears, but only then decide whether it meets their needs.
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