JOHANNESBURG (01/16/2004) - Joseph Mehawej, market development manager for Nortel Networks Corp. in the Middle East and Africa region, offers an international view of the trends that Nortel Networks' partners are seeing and supporting.
"Historically, there has always been a partnership between voice and data services," says Mehawej. "Previously, the two systems have operated side-by-side, but on separate networks with often dissimilar technology.
"Obviously, the main topic for quite a while now has been the possibility of converging these services onto a single network solution that employs common technology. This has been driven by the dominance of IP as a protocol to handle multimedia content, including voice as well as data, along with added-value services such as video conferencing.
"There has also been a certain amount of over-anticipation of the ideal of converged networks but, right now, the technology has the ability to deliver on the promises made over the last few years. Equally significant is the trend among larger enterprises to explore these opportunities and -- at the very least -- to ensure that network infrastructure has the scalability to handle such solutions when the time is right for deployment.
"Consequently, our partners have found that individual specializations in voice or data networks are giving way to a need for converged network abilities. Those that have positioned themselves correctly for this over the last few years are making impressive progress in the market, while those that have stayed with traditional areas of specialization are seeing ongoing business but no great increase in market share.
"One can draw a parallel between this situation and that of the enterprise customers who are the end-users of our technology. Some might elect to stick with established solutions, but those who have deployed converged technology have achieved a competitive advantage."
As Mehawej points out, the adoption of convergence has not been instantaneous, although the business advantages have never been in dispute.
"The chief concern for any enterprise is smooth transition," he says. "A converged network solution affects business-critical applications and the business processes around which those applications function. It can also transform the way in which business processes are conducted, which is the whole point."