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Mon 6 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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SIP road to success

Alcatel and Polycom have signed a deal to bring together Alcatel’s unified communications offering with Polycom’s video conferencing systems. The multi-year partnership will focus on delivering integrated voice, video and web conferencing solutions to the enterprise.

|~||~||~|Alcatel and Polycom have signed a deal to bring together Alcatel’s unified communications offering with Polycom’s video conferencing systems. The multi-year partnership will focus on delivering integrated voice, video and web conferencing solutions to the enterprise.

The resultant systems will be designed to allow users to move from one form of communication to another with one touch, for example, adding video to a phone call or audio and video to an instant message.

The deal leverages Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and will integrate Polycom's PVX and VSX video conferencing and collaboration systems and MGC multipoint bridges with the Alcatel OmniPCX Enterprise IP communications platform, Alcatel IP Touch phones, and the My Teamwork collaboration application.

“By bringing the value proposition of this partnership to our corporate Middle East customers, we will help them in changing the way their employees interact and handle their day to day contacts,” says Hesham El-Nahhas, regional director of enterprise sales at Alcatel.

“I believe this collaborative offering between Alcatel and Ploycom will not only widen our enterprise customer base here in the Middle East but will also deliver a powerful, state-of-the-art IP conference solution that can adapt to the changing needs of end users,” he adds.

Commentators have singled out the use of SIP in the deal as significant. Andrew Davis, managing partner at Wainhouse Research, has high expectations for the partnership as both Alcatel and Polycom solutions are SIP-based, which he believes will eventually be standard.

That said, many of Alcatel’s rivals, such as Avaya, Nortel and Cisco already have unified communications platforms on the market.

“Integrating Polycom video conferencing technology into its product sets will add value to Alcatel’s OmniPCX and OmniTouch products,” says Steve Schuchart, senior analyst, enterprise infrastructure at research firm Current Analysis.

“The My Teamwork collaboration module of the OmniTouch application suite, in particular, has needed video conferencing capabilities to be competitive with other unified communications platforms on the market. The relationship with Polycom will fill this feature gap, providing OmniTouch users with a richer set of communications and conferencing features,” he explains.

Alcatel has also released its latest OmniAccess wireless LAN (WLAN) switch family, which has been designed to offer robust security.

The OmniAccess is a stackable and chassis-based switch family that is designed to provide broad Wi-Fi coverage and exceptional radio frequency (RF) signal management in heavy use areas on an enterprise site or campus.

“Wireless networks offer productivity enhancing mobility for users, but they cannot be the weak link in enterprise network security,” says Tom Burns, general manager of Alcatel's data networking business.

“With the new OmniAccess WLAN product family we have extended our proven enterprise security onto the wireless network to provide seamless protection and comprehensive management,” he explains.

The Alcatel OmniAccess WLAN solution is integrated into the OmniVista Network Management infrastructure and includes the OmniVista 2770 Quarantine Manager software, which communicates with intrusion detection system (IDS) on the LAN and makes sure unwanted devices are excluded.

Other security features include centralised encryption for 802.11i and user-aware stateful firewalls. The switches assign security and access rights on a per-user basis and have ‘follow-me’ capabilities that track the user and apply those services no matter where in the network the user connects.

The OmniAccess family includes three stackable units: the eight-port 4304, which supports up to four access points; the eight-port 4308 which supports up to 16 access points, and the 24-port 4324, which support up to 48 access points.

Another member of the family is the OmniAccess 6000, a four-slot modular controller for use in very large networks, which can control up to 512 access points. A complete series of single radio and dual radio access points complete the product family. The switches support 10/100/1000 Ethernet speeds and Power-over-Ethernet capabilities.

Analysts have concurred with Alcatel’s emphasis on security in its wireless switch products.

“Our research shows a substantial growth in enterprise Wi-Fi thanks, in part, to the ability to run applications like voice across the infrastructure – but this assumes that the infrastructure has the security and services to support these applications,” says Richard Webb, directing analyst, wireless LANs for Infonetics Research.

“Alcatel's emphasis on security, services, and wired network integration is important to the success of its Wi-Fi products in this environment,” he explains.

The Alcatel OmniAccess WLAN switch product family is based on technology from Aruba Networks, which formed a partnership with Alcatel earlier this year. Alcatel forged a relationship with Aruba after its previous wireless partner Airespace was bought by Cisco.||**||

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