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Nortel Adds Microsoft Unified Communications Blade to Branch Office Router

Microsoft and Nortel today launch three new products as part of the
Innovative Communications Alliance, the partnership that they formed in
August 2006. Aimed at converging voice (from Nortel) with data (from
Microsoft) systems, the ICA had previously delivered on better
interoprtability between the two vendors' systems, but little
new technology
. Now that seems to be changing.

At the core of the ICA is the Nortel Converged Office, a bundle of
Nortel's CS- 1000 or CS-2100 IP PBXs with Microsoft's Office
Communications Server 2007. Together, these compete with poducts like
Cisco's Call Manager, appearing to end users as a single communications
platform that combines voice, video and instant messaging. The Nortel
Carrier Hosted Unified Communications Solution is a similar bundle aimed
at carriers, letting them provide the same functionality through a
hosted service.

But the most interesting of the new products could be the UC Integrated
Branch, a blade for Nortel's Secure Router 4134. Aimed at branch
offices, the SR 4134 is a modular platform that combines switching and
routing with a firewall, VPN and other security features. The new blade
runs Office Communications Server 2007, though Nortel emphasizes that it
is simply a blade, not a full server installation. Customers still need
an Office Communications Server the datacenter, with the blade extending
the software's fucntionality out to brnch offices. This is slightly
different from rival 3com's partnership with Digium, in which branch
routers contain complete Linux servers running a full isntallation of

The announcement's other notable point is that all three products are
branded as Nortel rather than Microsoft. Given standard telepphony's
reputation for reliability relative to most software (and Microsoft in
particular), this looks like a sensible strategy. It could even help
Microsoft win customers in the carrier market, though the standard
telephony part of the system is still supplied by Nortel.

bulletAnalysis: The Virtual Data Center
Juniper's EX Switch NAC Integration Is 'Me, Too'
There's nothing in Juniper's announcement concerning NAC and NAC enforcement. Tim brought up two other points, one about Cisco's TrustSec and the other about ConSentry and Nevis.