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Microsoft, Nortel Partner To Deliver Communications

The pair will deliver email, instant messaging, VoIP, and conferencing in one unified communications platform.

Microsoft Corp. and Nortel Networks Ltd. on Tuesday announced a strategic alliance to help companies migrate off of traditional telephone systems and onto a unified communications platform that encompasses email, instant messaging, Internet telephony, and multimedia conferencing.

Under the four-year deal, Toronto-based Nortel will provide the services and networking technology and Microsoft the software to help companies transition from traditional PBX systems to Internet-based communications.

In a joint teleconference, Mike Zafirovski, president and chief executive of Nortel; and Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Redmond, Wash.-based, Microsoft, promised to provide products and services that would transition companies without causing major upheavals in their operations.

"The approach is revolutionary in terms of impact, but Microsoft and Nortel have figured out how to implement it in an evolutionary way," Ballmer said. Zafirovski added that customers won't have to "rip and replace" their current communication systems.

The companies have formed what they're calling the "Innovative Communications Alliance" as a go-to-market vehicle. Nortel will become the systems integrator and believes it can grab substantial new revenue through other service offerings, such as convergence planning, optimization, monitoring and managed services.

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