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Major Players Team up to Deliver Unified Communications Solutions

Of interest to big ASPs and ISPs as well as being an offering for enterprises, Hewlett-Packard Company, Cisco Systems. Inc. and Software.com announced this week the three teamed up to deliver a Unified Communications (UC) solution.

The UC solution will enable service providers to increase customer satisfaction and revenue stream by delivering a broad range of enhanced messaging and call-management services, according to the companies.

ASP-News spoke with Danny Winokur, director of strategic alliances, Software.com >, and inquired about the significance of Software.com (SWCM), Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) and Hewlett-Packard Company getting together to deliver this technology solution.

"This is the first open all IP-based complete end-to-end unified communications solution available," he said.

According to Winokur, by joining forces, these companies are able to provide leading software and hardware technology components and have also included a rich suite of services that assures service providers of a rapid deployment, customized integration, reliable operation and support, anywhere in the world."

The services Winokur refers to include advance testing and integration of all solution elements, architecture and consulting services, integration and deployment services and worldwide support.

Additionally, ASP-News learned that the three partners cooperated at an engineering level to ensure that all technology components are truly integrated into a single solution.

While companies like Hotmail, Critical Path and efax.com may have the unified messaging element covered now, Winokur is quick to point out the differences.

"The solution we provide is unified communications, not just unified messaging," he said. "And it is available for implementation and customization by any service provider."

Going beyond unified messaging, unified communications includes real-time call management features like single number reach and live call return in the context of a system that also unifies all message types.

Where many service providers prefer to install scalable solutions into their own networks in order to better integrate with existing service delivery platforms, the UC solution is extremely scaleable and easy to deploy, according to Winokur.

"Our solution offers service providers an open standards solution, tightly integrated with their existing platforms, and provides them with the control and flexibility to customize and develop future applications that leverage the integrated platforms and services that make up this solution," he said.

Ease of integration into a company's existing comms and computing infrastructure is an important issue.

But according to Winokur, that is nothing to worry about.

"Because every aspect of this solution is open standards-based, and because of the highly scalable LDAP directory that Sfotware.com offers through its InterMail platform, this solution integrates extremely well, and easily, with service providers' existing infrastructure," he said.

HP's InterMail Integrated Services Directory (ISD) is a highly-scalable unified repository for all configuration, profile and other data elements that can be leveraged to tightly integrate the unified communications solutions with other LDAP-compliant directory-aware apps.

Cisco and Software.com have already leveraged this directory to accomplish tight integration of Cisco's uOne service with the Software.com's InterMail message store that is included in the UC solution.

"HP's consulting services, along with technology components like Smart Internet Usage and OpenView, further ease the integration of this solution into existing s