Integration in Networking, VoIP Could Mean Deals for Businesses

Loraine Lawson

Often, when people talk about integration, they're essentially focused on the software. Oh, sure, hardware plays a role-and there's always the integration appliance market, but basically we're talking data and software.


But every now and then, I think it's fun to look around and see what else is being integrated. And as it turns out, it looks like 2010 could be a big year for integration in the area of network systems.


Of course, in networking, they don't call it integration, they call it "convergence" or "unified communications," and that's a hot topic in and of itself. In fact, IT Business Edge recently launched a site on the topic, called, appropriately enough, Unified Communications Edge. It's edited by ITBE's own Carl Weinschenk, a great guy and blogger who's been covering communications technology since Noah hooked up two cans and a string and spoke those famous words, "Poop clean up on level two."


Just kidding about that Noah thing. Noah really said that-check Wikipedia, I'm sure it's in there (or will be)-but Weinschenk isn't that old by any stretch of the imagination.


But I digress. I'm not going to trudge too much into the unified comm field, but there are some interesting integration trends surfacing in the network area.

The first tidbit relates to Avaya's buyout of Nortel. The deal was announced in September, but the details are just now emerging, with the final plan expected to be unveiled next month.


Now, for those of you who don't keep up with these things-and why would you?-Avaya and Nortel were, separately, breathing down Cisco's neck when it came to "phone-line equivalents," according to Network World. If you'd have combined their sales in 2008, they would've bested Cisco.


And that's why it's so interesting that Avaya bought out the bankrupt Nortel this year. The big question, at least to financial and marketplace speculators, is whether this will cause Avaya to gain or lose ground. These types of mergers and acquisitions apparently tend to drown both companies at least as much-if not more-than they boost either.


But for businesses, there's another question: How will Avaya integrate Nortel's technology?


The Network World article explained in a recent article why organizations, particularly those who use voice products, should pay attention: Avaya could integrate Nortel's switch and security-a growing convern with VoIP-technology with its voice products. That would mean Avaya would become an "end-to-end player," according to Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala, who's quoted in the article.


And that would mean two things:

  1. Avaya could be a one-stop shop for VoIP and data, an option that might make VoIP more attractive to many businesses.
  2. Avaya could offer more features AND deep discounts to customers who buy its unified communications products.


There's some speculation that Avaya won't take this route, seeing as how "dabbling in switches could be a distraction from Avaya's stated main line of business -- unified communications packages," writes Network World.

Of course, that was written before news of a partnership negotiation between Avaya and Skype. According to Xchange:

"A partnership with Avaya could certainly help Skype-whose customers, for the most part, are individual users-move more deeply into the enterprise business. The biggest thing in the way of a partnership is the fact that Skype hasn't embraced the session initiation protocol (SIP) standard, but the parties believe that can be worked out.".

The deal also will mean Avaya will be able to "extend relationships with systems integrators and service providers in the enterprise market," according to ITP.


Avaya isn't the only one looking to integrate switching technology. Pim Bilderbeek, a vice president of research for IDC's European Telecommunications and Networking branch, told Martin Hingley 2010 will bring "further integration of switching with server and storage and this is likely to be where systems vendors react."

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