Cisco, Microsoft Go After Carrier-Delivered UC

The battle of the enterprise giants continues as both Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. announced plans to go after the unified communications space by partnering with carriers.

Both companies have made UC a top priority, announcing extensive new portfolios last year in support of that strategy. But what has so far been an enterprise-IT-focused push has suddenly been taken to a different level. Cisco is teaming with Cingular/AT&T Inc. to jointly market the a 3G wireless WAN, while Microsoft announced it would work with Nortel Networks to enable service providers to host and deliver its UC services, including e-mail, instant messaging, VoIP, click-to-call, video conferencing and other multimedia services.

AT&T and Cisco will bundle up the AT&T Wireless WAN Connectivity Service and the new Cisco 3G-Enabled Wireless WAN High-Speed WAN Interface Card (HWIC) for routers (also announced at CTIA). The wireless module, based on Sierra Wireless embedded technology, is enabled for AT&Ts UMTS/HSDPA-based BroadbandConnect service (or can be configured for EV-DO networks), targeted at companies that need diverse broadband backup, work in ad hoc situations such as construction sites, work in rural areas and the like. On a broader level, the move helps extend the reach of the WAN and enables greater convergence for the delivery of unified communications across a variety of networks.

The Cisco 3G Wireless WAN HWIC solution is the mechanism through which the worlds of wireline and wireless data are coming together for the first time within a single, enterprise-grade hardware platform, said Jeff Bradley, vice president, wireless business data services for AT&T.

AT&T and Cisco channels will go to market with the solution beginning in June.

Meanwhile, nemesis Microsoft is expanding its strategic relationship with Nortel Networks to integrate the Nortel Communication Server 2000 (CS 2000) softswitch with the Microsoft Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, which incorporates Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server and Windows SharePoint Services. Nortel will handle the integration and professional services end of things. The companies intend to begin field trials the second half of 2007 with general availability planned by the end of the year.

AT&T Inc.  

Cisco Systems Inc.  

Microsoft Corp.  

Nortel Networks

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