First Look: Nortel Ramps Up SCS500 Platform

Within the last few weeks, the dust is still settling from the announcement of the Nortel-Pingtel deal which generated much attention from end users and analysts alike. As announced in the acquisition deal, the technologies from Pingtel's SIPFoundry suite would evolve into Nortel's Software Communications System 500 (SCS500). Dell has apparently jumped on the Nortel bandwagon, as they have become a hardware platform provider for the SCS500. In the past, Fonality partnered with Dell to provide server hardware for its appliance-like systems. What's a notable difference between the two? Simple hardware comparisons. Dell's hardware implementation of the Nortel SCS500 runs on OptiPlex "desktop-grade" systems, whereas "other" systems utilize server class hardware. Looking beyond issues such as hardware redundancy, many questions about the SCS500 platform still exist. While the product is still in its infancy stages, some things about the new platform are very clear. Like other Nortel products, do not expect openly available documentation and software updates with the SCS500. This support feature (or lack thereof) will detract users from the SCS500 platform when comparing to other open-source environments, like Digium | Switchvox's offerings, the Avaya IP Office suite, etc. Sorry, but if I can't read the documentation before I physically purchase the product, then forget it. Feature set comparisons are another consideration. In the past, I've had a test server with recent builds of SIPFoundry / Pingtel software loaded. Sure, the software is rock-solid and modular in design, but what is modularity when a feature set is nearly non-existent? After the Nortel community publicly released statements about why sipXecs was superior over Asterisk, many onlookers began to compare the differences. Sure, you can count the code bases line by line and draw unfounded conclusions, but in the end, Asterisk has a wide-reaching feature set, and sipXecs does not. My biggest fear and criticism of the new SCS500 is that of a simple Nortel re branding. This is a young product. Time will tell, as will lab tests and comparative results. No PR or marketing department can accurately portray a pre-release product until it has been time-tested by many end users.

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