August 13, 2008
Nortel Acquires Pingtel, Eyes Open Source UC Market for SMBs
By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor
In a move that industry experts say will boost business in an increasingly popular market, officials from Nortel (News - Alert) are reporting today that they’ve acquired an open source enterprise unified communications solutions company.
The Toronto-based communications and technology leader says it’s purchased Pingtel (News - Alert) Corporation from Bluesocket, Inc., for an undisclosed amount. Pingtel provides SIP-based enterprise communications systems.
During an interview today, Nortel’s vice president of business development, Paul Templeton – one of the deal’s architects – told TMCNet that the acquisition made sense because his company has been working on and off with Pingtel for years, and that the pair collaborated over 18 months on an enterprise SMB solution, the so-called “Software Communications System 500,” or “SCS500.”
“Having worked for 18 months with Pingtel on this, it got to a point where the opportunities were growing and the business was really beginning to build, and it became appropriate to acquire that technology, and not just the technology but the team of engineers that developed it,” Templeton told TMCNet.
Nortel officials say the SCS500, based on an open source IT platform call server, is designed for SMBs with up to 500 users and that it improves tasks such as video and voice conferencing, unified messaging and call forwarding through a plug-and-play Web-based management system.
According to Templeton, the solution is designed for companies seeking to leverage IT to a strategic advantage – a goal that small and large companies share, he said, but that in the “true sense” of UC is “really all about layering communications capabilities on top of one another.”
“This is a very, very open solution with a lot of true UC integration,” Templeton said. “For a growing segment of our customers, that is the direction they want to go.”
Industry insiders are hailing the acquisition as a cost-effective way to broaden Nortel’s offerings through open source technologies, which mark the direction of telecom’s future.
According to TMC President and Group-Editor-in-Chief Rich Tehrani, the acquisition gives Nortel a subtle “cool factor” in gaining mindshare in the open source community.
“I have no illusions that Asterisk (News - Alert) will lose market-share to Pingtel in the short term but the potential exists for Nortel to increase the Pingtel mindshare and market share as telephony has certainly not been the main focus at Bluesocket, a company whose main product lines are in the WiFi space,” Tehrani writes in a blog entry today.
Interestingly, Tehrani recalls, officials from open source leader Digium debated with Nortel officials a few years ago at TMC’s popular annual ITEXPO – an event that’s scheduled to run this year from Sept. 16 to 18 in Los Angeles – about the merits of open versus closed systems.
Having come full circle, Tehrani says, Nortel’s acquisition of Pingtel now serves as “just more validation that open-source solutions are an important component of the future of telecom.”
Under the agreement, Nortel says it will acquire the key assets of Pingtel from Bluesocket and Pingtel employees will be integrated into Nortel’s offices in Billerica, Massachusetts.
Bluesocket Chief Executive Officer Mads Lillelund (News - Alert) said the deal will bolster his company in the enterprise wireless and mobility markets.
“This strategic investment in our wireless LAN business strengthens our commitment to providing customers with mobility solutions that offer the greatest level of security, scalability and ease of use,” Lillelund said.
Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users. Today’s featured white paper is The Compelling ROI Benefits of Contact Center Quality and Performance Management Technologies, brought to you by Voice Print International (News - Alert).
Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael�s articles, please visit his columnist page.