Nortel readies SOA and communications push

Nortel readies SOA and communications push

Web services and alliance with IBM are key to plan to integrate communications services into business apps

Nortel will leverage Web services and SOA to enable integration of communications services into business applications with the company launching its Communications Enablement strategy Wednesday.

Built both for enterprises and telecommunications carriers, the Nortel effort enables Web services on selective products and offers a software-based foundation for building communications-enabled applications and business processes. Working in both Nortel and Cisco environments, the plan allows, for example, a customer to create a conference call from within a supply chain management application.

"What we're announcing is a comprehensive strategy," enabling the use of Web services for communications, said Richard Tworek, Nortel general manager for SOA and Next Generation Platforms.

Nortel intends to link the silos of communications and applications, he said. The plan aims to eliminate complexity of communication-enabling applications by integrating presence, location, identity, conference and other communication and network capabilities within the Nortel portfolio into business processes, the company said.

"From the SOA angle, I find that what this does is it helps ease the burden of integrating the technologies from the communications side into the applications," said analyst Sandy Rogers, program director for SOA, Web services and integration at IBM.

Featured in the plan is a software-based foundation environment for network-engaged applications or services to work across a customer's multi-site communications infrastructure. Due in the first quarter of 2008 and codenamed "Raptor," the environment provides orchestration of real-time services in a multi-vendor environment across enterprise, carrier, wireless, and wired domains. Communications-enabled applications can be developed and integrated with business processes.

Capabilities in the first wave of services include click-to-connect for audio, voice notification, and text messaging services; location and presence services; and network bandwidth management. Adaptors will be offered for Nortel equipment, Cisco CallManager, Tandberg videoconferencing, and other third-party products.

Also, Nortel plans to make several products available as a Web service and introduce new products for SOA; the company's softswitches and SIP application servers will be enabled for Web services. One product to be Web service-enabled is the Nortel Communication Server 1000, which is an IP PBX for VoIP.

In Nortel's plan, alliances with other vendors, such as IBM, and development of a global services practice to support SOA also are featured. The Parlay-X Web services standards for telecommunications are leveraged as well.

Nortel has taken its communications capabilities and packaged them into a set of services that can be exposed in an SOA, said IBM's David Epstein, director of public solutions at the company. IBM's tools for business process modeling also part of the equation, he said.

IBM's WebSphere Application Server will link to Nortel's new platform, providing a Java environment and Web services container. IBM and Nortel will market communications-enabled solutions into select vertical markets with initial markets to include health care and retail. The companies through the software foundation environment will unite business applications and processes with unified communications and collaboration tools, such as click-to-connect, location, and VoIP.

Nortel's software foundation environment will be integrated with IBM's Sametime platform for unified communications and collaboration. A customer using both the software foundation and Sametime could see if a contact's phone is in use without leaving the Sametime client.

Also, Nortel is offering a sandbox environment where customers can use and test applications.

Companies such as Avaya and Oracle have had similar ventures in linking communications such as voice services to applications.

Avaya has offered its Communications Enabled Business Process solution, which exposes voice communications features as Web services that can be called by applications such as supply chain management. Oracle with its Service Delivery Platform has extended its Fusion middleware to provide an SOA platform for deploying multiple IP communications software services, which can be integrated with business applications.

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