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IBM System i gets VoIP via Nortel

IBM and Nortel are collaborating on IP telephony software and hardware that competes with the System i package 3Com announced last year.

IBM and Nortel Networks will offer a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) package for the System i platform that will compete with the 3Com Corp. and System i combination announced last year.

The Nortel package, available by the end of the year, will be targeted at first toward smaller businesses. Leif Rush, System i offerings manager at IBM, said the "sweet spot" will be 150-to-500 users, although it could scale to handle more than a 1,000 users. In contrast, Rush said the 3Com package is designed to support from 100-to-100,000 users. Rush expects to see competition between Nortel and 3Com for smaller System i shops, which Rush said is "about giving choice to customers." The software will run on a partition on the System i machine running Linux. Rush said details about what Linux distribution or distributions it will run on are still being worked out.

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This offering will allow System i users to run all of their VoIP services on one server rather than having separate IP telephony functions, such as call forwarding and conferencing, on separate machines.

The package will combine System i hardware and IBM software, such as Lotus Sametime with VoIP phones and applications. Joe Clabby, president of analyst firm Clabby Analytics, said IBM and Nortels' packaged offering is a good fit for the System i platform.

Out of all IBM's platforms -- z, p, i and x –-- System i is best suited to the channel, he said. With System i, "they go after VARs and try to get their products in your machine."

Clabby added that having all your VoIP applications in one box is a good fit for small and midsized businesses (SMB) because they'll only have to manage one box, which could also save them money.

IBM's Rush said the VoIP package will start as low as 50 users and go up to 1,000 users, adding that the package is being designed to be "drop-dead simple." He said pricing will be made public when the package comes out in the fourth quarter.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.

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