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Cisco, Openwave Launch Dueling Unified Messaging Solutions

Do you believe in coincidence? How about luck? What are the odds that two companies release the same application on the same day with the same version number?

That's exactly what Cisco Systems and Openwave Systems did Wednesday.

Just after 5 a.m. PDT, the San Jose, Calif.-based computer-networking equipment maker announced it was releasing its Cisco Unity 3.0, an enterprise-class unified messaging (UM) software solution.

Four hours later - unbeknownst to executives - Redwood City, Calif.-based Openwave, which specializes in open IP-based communication infrastructure software and applications, was proud enough to also introduce its own unified messaging software solution.

The funny thing is, Openwave's UM is also a version 3.0 and it is also based on IP industry standards. Both solutions also let employees access and manage voice, fax and e-mail messages from any device (desktop PC, touch-tone telephone, or the Internet) from any location.

"There is no connection to the two products," says Cisco spokesperson Larry Yu. "The fact that they have the same version number of a similar application is a fluke. The difference being that theirs is more geared towards the service provider market, while ours is tailored more for our enterprise customers."

Similarly Different

Besides the superficial similarities, there are some fundamental differences between the two systems.

Most obvious is the fact that they are both based on proprietary architectures and have different ways of formatting the information.

Cisco's Unity is based on Microsoft Windows 2000, Exchange 5.5 and Exchange 2000. The company says its version is part of its AVVID (Architecture for Voice Video and Integrated Data) platform and its long-term strategy for delivering IP telephony solutions to enterprise customers.

The Cisco UM supports up to 5,000 users per server and up to 100,000 users. The platform also supports multiple Cisco CallManager clusters.

Openwave's UM is centered around its VoiceXML-based broad Messaging Services strategy and is designed to work with Cisco's AS5300 voice gateway and AS5350 and AS5400 universal gateways.

The other main disparity is that the two systems are priced differently.

Cisco Unity 3.0 is available from its vendors Comm Data, Ingram Micro and Tech Data. The UM starts at US$145 per seat. A voicemail-only Cisco Unity 3.0 solution is also available starting at US$70 per seat.

Openwave's UM pricing is based on the size of the project.