IBM/Nortel Announces Unified Application Software

A joint endeavor between Nortel and IBM could help revolutionize inter-business communication.

Nortel and IBM announced today that they plan to offer a new software-based foundation that brings together applications and processes with the latest communications and collaboration tools. Built on service oriented architecture principles (SOA), the new platform will allow businesses to communicate more efficiently and directly with colleagues, partners and customers without compromising service or security.

According to the agreement, the standards-based IMB WebSphere Application Server will be integrated into Nortel's Application Core, Nortel's new software-based SOA solution platform, which offers tools such as click-to-connect, presence, location and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). As part of this announcement, Nortel's software based foundation environment will integrate with IBM's Lotus Sametime, which will allow businesses to add advanced communication such as click to call, click to conference, telephony presence and shared directory services to their SOA portfolio. Both Nortel and IBM initially plan to target companies in the healthcare and retail industries.

"We're taking the communications element and putting it back in the business process," said Wes Durow, VP of Enterprise Marketing Strategy for Nortel. "It is really about putting these elements together and accelerating the pace of business."

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As new and increasingly sophisticated communication technologies are introduced, the complexity for businesses increases, Durow said. Workers can be bombarded with numerous technologies (e-mail, voice mail, Blackberry, etc) which often result in less effective communication, resulting in wasted time and loss of money.

"You make a phone call to one of your colleagues, and 70 percent of the time that phone call ends up in an inbox. It slows down your ability to do your job," said Durow. "What was a growth accelerator is now a growth inhibitor."

Marketed as the answer to communication overload, the new Nortel and IBM offering helps eliminate this complexity so that communication is streamlined and employees can work more efficiently without being held back by overly complicated processes. The software-based foundation will enable communications-enabled applications to be rapidly created and integrated, allowing businesses to collaborate more efficiently and effectively between departments or with other businesses. The tools can then be tailored to meet business-specific communication needs and challenges.

The product is already being put to practical use. Researchers from the Mobile Emergency Triage (MET) group at the University of Ottawa are applying the software to develop a hand held clinical decision support system used by doctors at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario to support emergency triage on a variety of pediatric presentations. The technology has allowed information to be shared on patients between specialists and departments that normally would have been much more difficult to obtain.

"These systems tend to be older. It's quite difficult to interact with these systems. For us, to get the most up-to-date information, we really need to get information from all these hospital systems," said Dympna O'Sullivan, post doctoral researcher at University of Ottawa. "We can use it to connect specialists within the department. We can use it for connecting nurses to physicians working in the lab involved in the triage process."

"It really is simplifying integrated support systems and having the right information at the right time," she said.