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Nortel switch release focuses on unified communications

Nortel today released two new switch series aimed at unified communications deployments.

ORLANDO - Nortel has unveiled two new switch series designed to accommodate convergence and ease the growth of VoIP and unified communications (UC) within an organization.

The Ethernet Routing Switch 2500 and 4500 series, which were announced at VoiceCon Spring 2007, can be the foundation to enable LANs to prioritize real-time communications traffic such as voice, video and multimedia services.

According to Sanjeev Gupta, Nortel's director of Ethernet switching, the two switch series, which include a total of 10 sub-products, boost the reliability necessary for more advanced communications. Each switch in the series comes with the option of PoE and features improved resiliency, security and quality of service (QoS). They also feature the capability of auto-discovery of devices like VoIP handsets.

The 2500 series is designed for the branch office and small deployments, while the 4500 is aimed at enterprise deployments and features the availability of GigE.

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A stacking architecture allows for no single points of failure, Gupta added. That higher reliability allows the network to recover faster from failures, without applications seeing degradation, Gupta said. In some data applications, a few seconds of degradation caused by failure may be hardly noticeable. It's almost expected and accepted, he said. But when dealing with real-time applications such as IP telephony, VoIP, video and other multimedia apps, those few seconds can make a world of difference.

"That gives serious visibility into the degradation of network performance," he said. "Failures occur in all networks; reliability masks that from the applications."

The new lines of switches are designed to reroute traffic in the event of a failure to ensure that real-time applications stay in real time.

"Today, especially with voice, the reliability we come to expect is much greater than when we're dealing with data," Gupta said.

Along with announcing its new switch portfolio, Nortel also outlined its vision for UC and how solutions can enable it.

According to Nortel president and CEO Mike Zafirovski, "Unified communications fundamentally changes the way enterprises communicate, simplifying the deluge of communications with a single, seamless interface."

Nortel's UC vision focuses on solutions that align to the business environment in the enterprise and lets users streamline communications within their business applications.

Nortel has updated its Communication Server 1000 to provide higher reliability and redundancy and to enhance network and voice call security, and it has added in new E911 capabilities. Interoperability with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 will also increase UC capabilities.

Additionally, Nortel announced general availability of its Multimedia Communication Server (MCS) 5100, which integrates telephony and multimedia applications with IBM Lotus Notes. It will feature improved collaboration capabilities for voice, video, conferencing, email, instant messaging and presence. MCS 5100 also features support for new SIP-based IP phones, to improve the flexibility, security, reliability, manageability and scalability of the core platform, which operates on IBM servers with Linux operating system.

Lastly, Nortel introduced Unified Messaging 2000, a carrier-grade solution that supports up to one million users, enabling access to voicemail, fax and email through common email applications and integration with Active Directory. UM 2000 operates in a multivendor voice network and is targeted at large enterprises and carriers.

Ingrid Tremblay, Nortel's leader of enterprise product marketing for voice and UC, said the end game is to boost application capabilities on the network by offering services.

"It's really all about taking the humans out of the equation," Tremblay said.

She added that the majority of companies looking at UC today are doing so to enable both mobility and conferencing in order to enhance collaboration.

"Everything becomes an application within that ecosystem," she said.

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