IBM, Nortel Join Forces On Unified Communications

communications collaboration software

Nortel and IBM Wednesday unveiled a 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 (SOA) principles, the new platform will allow businesses to communicate more efficiently and directly with colleagues, partners and customers without compromising service or security.

The standards-based IBM WebSphere application server will be integrated into Nortel's application core. Nortel is abstracting communication components from the underlying existing telecom infrastructure and making them available within this new web services-based environment, allowing solution providers to easily create SOA-based communications-enabled applications and business processes by linking together business systems and applications with communication systems and networks.

Nortel's new software-based SOA solution platform, which offers tools such as click-to-connect, presence, location and VoIP. Specifically, 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.

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

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."

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.