The ICA (Innovative Communications Alliance) of Nortel-Microsoft is pushing out the envelope on communications technology with Phase 3 of its product roadmap. ICA aims to elevate the email and messaging of Microsoft and telephony expertise of Nortel in the UC space. "We are ready with the next level of UC, in which we have embedded GPS/Tracking applications on Microsoft architecture. This will enhance productivity for verticals like hospitality, public sector, aviation to track assets/personnel on their UC deployment," said Sukhvinder Ahuja, Director, Unified Communications & Channels --India, Nortel. Globally, ICA has more than 850 customers. ICA, formed by Nortel and Microsoft a couple of years ago, jointly addresses UC. The key partners for the alliance in India include Wipro, HP and Orange. "These are the front-runners of UC as they encompass excellent technical knowledge of Microsoft and Nortel. Our Tier I channel partners are also getting trained and geared up to leverage the UC offerings," he said.
Nortel-Microsoft will offer ICA-hosted UC solutions through a data center for customers by the end of the year. "We plan to tie with a neutral carrier to host UC offerings at their data center. The initial 'pick & choose' options for customers would be email, messaging and telephony," said Ahuja. Aimed at both enterprises and SMBs, the hosted 'usage-based' UC offerings would appeal more to SMBs. "Since most SMBs are reluctant to invest in UC deployments, such services will help us penetrate deeper and wider into the UC market. Even partners can avail of these services for their enterprise/SMB customers," he added. As per Ahuja, Nortel Empowered Partners (Tier I partners) and Nortel Enforced Partners (appointed for SMBs) will mainly avail UC offerings through data centers. "Any Microsoft partner can also offer ICA hosted offerings to its customers," added Ahuja.
Nortel has begun offering 'white label' services for channel partners. Nortel feels such services are easy way for partners to understand UC as the risk is low, adoption is faster and exposure is good. "UC would primarily be driven by our specialist partners, while channels would come up with occasional demand-driven cases," he said.
Nortel is planning to add more applications to enhance UC for contact centers. "The current Phase 3 of ICA involves tracking, GPS, web-based applications for contact centers and other technology innovations. This indicates UC will be more 'Application and Service' based than product-based in the future," he said. Defence, public sector and IT/ITES are early adopters for UC in India, according to Ahuja. Government sector is another huge playfield. Nortel is conducting web-based, 'lunch and learn' and other training sessions with certification process for Tier I partners. "Our key partners like HP, Wipro and Orange continue to lead the pack. However, Tier I partners would be 'feet on street' for UC. We like to be the default choice for UC," said Ahuja.
-- Channelworld India