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Cisco, IBM Connect on VoIP - InternetNews.
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Cisco, IBM Connect on VoIP

Cisco and IBM , already moving closer with a spate of development plans, are lining up around a new converged network initiative.

The offering helps companies move voice, data and video traffic to a single system, reducing management costs and enabling Voice over Internet Protocol and other applications.

"VoIP has been on the cusp of taking off for some time. Now, security, cost and ease-of-deployment have all matured to the point where joint customers are confident in deploying it and having it work," said Don Fitzpatrick, the IBM vice president in charge of the Cisco alliance.

Industry statistics bear this out. According to recent research from the Yankee Group, 54 percent of enterprises surveyed said they are testing or evaluating VoIP for their business.

In this new offering, Cisco is contributing its unified messaging and call routing software, Unity and CallManager, respectively. IBM puts forward its Information Management database tool and Lotus Domino communications suite.

Big Blue's global services arm, with its consulting, systems integration and support experts, also plays a prominent role. IBM technicians are already trained on the Cisco products, Fitzpatrick said. IBM's service arm recently completed work on an in-house IP project at Cisco.

Finally, to expand distribution, San Jose, Calif.'s Cisco and Armonk, N.Y.'s IBM will offer the products to independent software vendors and service providers.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The arrangement isn't exclusive, but the companies have invested a significant amount of time, money and training, so it's not likely to dissolve anytime soon.

Fitzpatrick said IP communications offerings for financial services companies and retail chains are in the offing. In addition, new tools that make it easier for companies to use video on converged networks will be released soon.

Today's announcement is the latest in a string of collaborations between the two IT giants. Last month, they announced that Cisco's switch modules will be integrated with IBM's servers to improve the performance of corporate data centers.

In February, Cisco and IBM unveiled joint offerings to safeguard enterprise networks against viruses, worms and hackers. And back in July, they deepened a longstanding storage alliance.

"There's a lot going on [between the two companies]," Fitzpatrick said. "And that will only be accelerating."