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July 18, 2006

Microsoft, Nortel Announce Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA)



By Greg Galitzine
Group Editorial Director


“Today, the world of communications really is changed.”
 
Thus did Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, kick off his remarks at a press conference announcing a strategic relationship with Nortel building on the momentum of last month’s unified communications strategy announcement.
 
Microsoft (News - Alert) and Nortel (News - Alert) will form the Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA), a partnership designed to foster collaboration at the technology, marketing, and business levels to advance unified communications solutions for customers around the world.
 
“Nortel and Microsoft have each led fundamental transformations in their own market — Nortel’s digital innovation and Microsoft’s software on every desktop,” said Mike Zafirovski, president and CEO of Nortel.
 
He continued: “By combining our unique strengths, Microsoft and Nortel will accelerate the delivery of unified communications — delivering to our customers a higher-quality user experience, with greater reliability and lower total cost of ownership. That’s where we can make a real difference.”
 
The companies are embarking on what is initially a four-year alliance agreement. They will jointly sell the solution and integration services, with the plan calling for the development of a training and incentive program for the two partners’ sales teams. Both companies have pledged to invest substantial resources in marketing, business development and delivery.
 
“We are investing together because the communications industry is at an inflection point,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft.
 
Ballmer elaborated: “We will have deep collaboration in product development with Nortel, allowing us to rapidly deliver high-quality, highly reliable solutions that will support mission-critical communications. The opportunity for our customers is fantastic. We will enable them to realize tremendous economic and business benefits from unified communications.”
 
Some of the planned solutions include enterprise contact center applications, mission-critical telephony functions, advanced mobility capabilities, and data networking infrastructure.
 
Microsoft and Nortel will build a joint channel ecosystem using their systems integrator, reseller, and service provider relationships. The two companies will develop a series of solutions for a range of customers that ranges from the SMB market to large enterprises and service providers.
 
Regarding the significance of today’s announcement with Nortel Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, said it, “is a long-term initiative for Microsoft that will involve waves of new products, services, and product updates over time. The market for unified communications is just beginning to emerge and we think it’s a big opportunity, upwards of $40 billion, where software will be a key driver. Both companies have spent significant time together in the last 12 months and realize they share the same vision for unified communications and have complementary assets.”
 
Greg Galitzine is editorial director for Internet Telephony Magazine. To see more articles, please visit Greg Galitzine’s columnist page.

 

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