Capellas Outlines Convergence And Channel Strategy


MCI Chairman and CEO Michael Capellas Wednesday outlined the drivers pushing the industry towards interoperability and reaffirmed the company's commitment to the channel.

During his keynote at the CeBit conference here, Capellas said the main driver for convergence is the demand for higher productivity and reduced cost structures. Capellas has for some time pitched the need for convergence as MCI collapses its own network to an IP backbone, as is AT&T, BellSouth and Sprint.

"While it may not be sexy, productivity and cost gains is the central theme of what everyone is thinking about from a strategic point of view," he said. "It is the number one priority and interoperability is where true productivity and cost gains comes from. Interoperability is the next wave."

In an interview with CRN, Capellas said MCI will aggressively go after the channel to push its converged IP-based services, particularly in the mind-market.

"We are building (IP-services) tailored for the distribution channel and are making sure the products and services we're developing are packaged, targeted and priced for the mid-market and can be implemented quickly by the VARs," he said.

First MCI has to develop the IP product set and put an organization in place to support the channel before terms and conditions such as channel commission structures can be determined he said.

For now, MCI is recruiting VARs and has hired people dedicated only to supporting the channel, he said.

Another driver for VARs and their customers is standardization, such as XML making application-to-application, device-to-device and infrastructure-to-infrastructure communication a reality; while pervasive mobility will force the issue of interoperability, Capellas said during the keynote.

"Everyone has multiple devices and it's driving us all nuts that we can't tie everything together," Capellas said. "You have cellular voice mail, office voice mail, e-mail--all separate. Now we need to unify communications and there's no question that this is happening."

Capellas believes that telecommunications companies will bring convergence to the forefront via partnerships with both the distribution channel and IT vendors.

Capellas pointed to IBM's grid strategy, Microsoft's .NET Web services play and Sun Microsystems' SunOne effort as evidence that the architecture for interoperability is happening.