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Nortel Embraces Virtual Enterprise

BILLERICA, Mass. -- Nortel has announced a slew of product upgrades under its new "virtual enterprise" strategy.

Since workers connect to networks from a variety of places (headquarters, satellite offices, the road) through a range of devices (desktops, laptops, PDAs), they need flexible, easy-to-use systems to be as productive as possible.

Nortel's software upgrades are designed to make it easier for large corporations and government agencies to deliver voice, call management, desktop video calling, collaboration tools and personalization services.

"This is about communicating and collaborating, underpinned by reliability and security," Clent Richardson, Nortel's vice president of enterprise marketing, said at a recent briefing at Nortel's Massachusetts R&D center.

In all, there are seven product enhancements being announced today and will be available in the third and fourth quarters.

They include: Communications Server 1000, Release 4.0; Communications Server 5100, Release 3.0; Communications Server 2100; Symposium Call Center Server, Release 5.0; Alteon Operating System 22.0; BayStack 5520 Ethernet Switches; and IP Telephones models 2006 and 2007.

The offerings are based on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), a signaling standard for Internet conferencing, telephony, presence, events notification and instant messaging.

The protocol initiates call setup, routing, authentication and other feature messages to endpoints within an IP domain. Nortel's use of it should make its software more compatible with network components from other vendors.

"We're an old iron company that's transforming to a software company," Richardson said.

Besides trying to enact that change, Nortel is still grappling with the fallout of an accounting scandal that forced out its former CEO and several top managers.

Earlier this month, the firm said it would delay the release of revised financial figures.

But Richardson, echoing the sentiments of new CEO Bill Owens, believes the moves the company is making now will leave it in a strong position "once the cloud passes."