Nortel Launches UC Starter Kits


The kits, available now in North America, are designed to help VARs offer their clients the benefits of UC, such as one-click access to phone calls, instant messaging, video conferencing and other applications, through rapid deployment in a phased approach as opposed to in one fell swoop.

Net Payne, Nortel's voice president of North American marketing, said the kits are designed to give companies a taste of unified communications and can help VARs get in the door with new clients that may not want to dive headfirst into a full UC deployment.

"Not all customers are ready to do a full UC deployment," Payne said. "This is a low risk, low cost way for them to touch and feel the power of UC before doing a full blown deployment."

For VARs, being able to offer all-encompassing kits lets them take advantage of the hype surrounding unified communications and is a way for them to get their clients quickly up and running. Additionally, Payne said, the price points are compelling for both resellers and their customers.

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"The real intent of what we have done in putting these kits together is to let partners get out to customers and prospects and offer them experience with unified communications," he said, adding that a small phased approach will benefit VARs as their customers want to broaden their UC deployments down the road.

"It's making it easy for channel partners to get up and running and it's an easy way for the channel to expand the overall unified communications market," Payne said.

Natalie Linder, vice president of Black Box Network Services, a Lawrence, Pa.-based solution provider and Nortel Elite channel partner, said the kits help her get ahead of unified communications and offer clients either a piece-by-piece implementation or a full unified communications solution.

"With Nortel, we can sell to the entire spectrum of UC opportunities -- from those who want to take a more phased-in approach to customers who want to implement an entire UC solution," Linder said in a statement.

The kits build upon the unified communications specialization that Toronto-based Nortel launched last year. The Partner Advantage Unified Communications Specialization is designed to ensure that partners have the expertise and experience to deploy Nortel UC solutions.

Payne said the kits are pre-tested to work with other vendors' gear, meaning they can be plugged into an existing network, minimizing the potential for network downtime that can arise when adding new features.

The first kit is the Mobile IP Starter Kit, which Payne said offers affordable mobile IP with Nortel WLAN handsets that work on most existing WLAN infrastructures. It uses presence to facilitate communication. The kit consists of Nortel Communication Server (CS) 1000 configured for 10 IP users, 10 WLAN handsets, WLAN IP Telephony Manager, WLAN Security Switch, three wireless access points and digital trunking. It retails for roughly $40,000.

The second is the Road Warrior Starter Kit, which give on-the-road workers a soft-phone application, allowing them to make calls over the Internet from a laptop, which could ultimately slash cell phone costs. That kit comprises CS 1000 configured for 25 users, 25 IP soft phone clients and digital trunking back to the PBX. It also retails for about $40,000.

A third kit is designed for folks who work from home. The Work at Home Starter Kit, Payne said, can increase productivity and reduce real-estate costs by allowing employees to work from home. Working from home can also aid in disaster recovery and business continuity efforts since off-site locations may not be affected by office-specific network issues. The home kit, which carries a $57,000 price tag, includes CS 1000 configured for 25 users, 25 IP phones, 25 BES routers and digital trunking.

Lastly, the UC Starter Kit is for companies ready to deploy unified communications services. The kit offers presence, application sharing, click-to-call and integrated conferencing from the desktop. Payne said it can lower the cost of conferencing by as much as 80 percent compared to outsourced conferencing solutions. The UC Starter Kit sells for about $30,000 and features CS 1000 for 25 users, digital trunking and the Converged Office Starter Kit that leverages Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005 or Office Communications Server 2007.

Payne added that Nortel will also offer channel partner training and workshops; seminars and Webinars; and integrated demand generation for VARs looking to offer the kits. Kits will also be made available for resellers to order with one click.

The four new kits join the lineup of unified communications tools Nortel launched globally last year that includes Nortel Converged Office, Unified Messaging and Nortel Multimedia Client for IBM Lotus Notes Starter Kit. The kits also build on Nortel's long-standing alliances with Microsoft and IBM, as the UC 1-2-3 solutions can integrate regardless of the desktop environment.