Microsoft and Sprint team up to create a unified messaging service

Microsoft and Sprint team up to create a unified messaging service

Microsoft president Steve Ballmer says the company's goal is to form partnerships in the telecommunications world.

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

ATLANTA'At the recent SuperComm '99 trade show, Microsoft Corp. and Sprint Corp. announced they will integrate a private branch exchange, LAN server, Internet connection and unified messaging within a single server.

Sprint will market the server, which reportedly consists of Microsoft, Sprint and third-party software running on a Dell PowerEdge 6300.

In a keynote speech, Microsoft president Steve Ballmer said Microsoft is working to make its software more compatible with telecommunications technologies.

'Our goal is not to enter the world of telecom equipment but to form partnerships,' he said. Microsoft clearly hopes to make its Exchange Server the platform of choice for next-generation messaging.

Industry analysts have predicted that unified messaging'a single in-box for voice, e-mail and fax messages, accessible from any telephone or networked device'will become a $2 billion to $3 billion market by 2002.

At the show, GTE Corp. unveiled its new GTE Unified Messaging service, the first such IP service for carriers.

GTE will sell the service to Internet providers and competitive local exchange carriers.

National backbone

Customers can use their present phone numbers and e-mail addresses; all messages will be consolidated on a 6T disk array at a GTE data center in Boston. The service will ride on GTE's Global Network Infrastructure backbone, which has 50 points of presence around the nation.

Roger Smith, unified messaging product manager for GTE, said the service will be available soon in Boston and Dallas, and will roll out nationally later this summer.

Telcordia Technologies of Morristown, N.J., acted as integrator for the GTE service using Unified Messaging Plus software from Amteva Technology Inc. of Richmond, Va., BellSouth's Software.com Inc. directory and message servers, and RealAudio streaming audio from RealNetworks Inc. of Seattle. The hardware comes from Sun Microsystems Inc. and I-Bus Inc. of San Diego.

Northern Telecom Inc. announced another unified messaging product for Microsoft Windows NT platforms. David J. Malcolm, Microsoft's group product manager for Exchange Server, said more than 50 companies are working on messaging products for NT.

The telecom improvements Microsoft is making will affect Windows 2000's Active Directory and the Microsoft Management Console, expected to be released late this year. The next version of Exchange, code-named Platinum, will have a Web store for voice, e-mail and fax messages. Malcolm said Windows 2000's uptime reliability will improve to the 99.999 percent level needed for carrier services.'''' '

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