For Avaya and Nortel CEOs, VoIP software is hot

Research and development dollars are now being targeted at writing code

The future of Avaya’s and Nortel’s respective VoIP businesses is in software, as well as strong partnerships with enterprise-class application vendors, the chief executives of both companies said this month.

In separate keynote sessions at the US VoiceCon show, Avaya CEO Louis D’Ambrosio and Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski both said the majority of their respective companies’ research and development efforts are focused on software — with 75% to 80% of their development dollars going to writing code, rather than making circuit boards, line cards and handsets. Both CEOs also emphasised partnerships with application vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and SAP.

D’Ambrosio described “a major disaggregating of hardware and software” going with Avaya’s VoIP and communications products. To this end, 70% of Avaya’s R&D resources are now devoted to software development. Avaya is working to make voice and messaging applications into distributed services, applets and software objects which can be woven into other enterprise applications, such as ERP or CRM platforms.

“Injecting communications into the core of business processes” will be important for enterprises to respond more quickly to events that affect a broad range of IT systems, D’Ambrosio said. As an example, he cited Avaya’s Communications Enabled Business Processes technology, which ties together Avaya audio conferencing and messaging applications to service-oriented architecture-based platforms such as SAP NetWeaver or IBM WebSphere.

D’Ambrosio also cited Avaya’s recent plan to acquire Ubiqity, a maker of session initiation protocol (SIP)-based application servers for carriers.

“We’ll be bringing that carrier-grade SIP technology to the enterprise,” D’Ambrosio said.

Not to be outdone, Nortel’s Zafirovski said his company is also pushing carrier-grade SIP into the enterprise, while the vendor is transforming its enterprise business to software and applications.

“Though the image of Nortel may be as a hardware company,” he said, “we’re making software solutions to drive [business innovation].”

Of the 12,000 engineers and researchers at Nortel, around 80% are software programmers, Zafirovski said. He also touted integration efforts with IBM and Microsoft — with whom Nortel has an extensive R&D, sales and services partnership, known as the Innovative Communications Alliance.

Nortel has announced the integration of its SIP-based Multimedia Communication Server 5100 with IBM’s Lotus Sametime and Notes applications.

Zafirovski emphasised the Microsoft partnership as its most significant move to becoming more software-centric.

“This is a very special alliance” with Microsoft, which includes “a deep relationship with R&D, go-to-market and services ... it allows [Nortel] to push advanced Unified Communications technology faster than we would have been able to on our own.”

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