• United States

Nortel preps Meridian PBX for IP makeover

Jun 09, 20034 mins

Nortel PBX users who are unclear on the vendor’s VoIP strategy could get answers this week with the announcement of software aimed at transforming a Meridian voice switch into an enterprise-scale IP PBX.

Nortel PBX users who are unclear on the vendor’s VoIP strategy could get answers this week with the announcement of software aimed at transforming a Meridian voice switch into an enterprise-scale IP PBX.

Succession 3.0, expected to be announced at the International Nortel Networks Meridian Users’ Group (INNMUG) conference in Las Vegas, will run on Nortel’s Succession IP PBX platform and the Meridian 1 PBX, which the company says will support up to 10,000 IP phones on a single box. That’s 10 times the number of IP phones Nortel could support on any one IP PBX or hybrid system in the past. New features also include converged multimedia, wireless and improved 911 support.

Succession 3.0 is the next software upgrade for both the Meridian 1 PBX and Succession CSE 1000 IP PBX, offering the same features and one user interface for both platforms. But Nortel’s large-enterprise migration plan lies in a product combination it’s calling the Succession 1000M, which consists of a Nortel Meridian CPU running the Succession 3.0 software and tied to an H.323 Signaling Server. Nortel says this product combination can harness the large-scale TDM telephony processing capabilities of the Meridian to support up to 10,000 IP endpoints on a single platform.

“This is huge for Nortel, and huge for Nortel Meridian customers,” says Brian Riggs, a senior analyst with Current Analysis. Nortel has for several years offered IP trunking for the Meridian, which lets remote PBXs connect over an IP WAN. The company also has had its Succession IP PBXs since 2001, but the product accounted for only about 7% of IP PBX sales last year, IDC says.

“In the past, Meridian customers that wanted to migrate their large PBX environments to an all-IP environment had to really question whether Nortel could take them down that road,” Riggs says. “Now it looks like they might have an answer to that question.”

One Meridian user says Succession 3.0 sounds promising.

“It’s essential for [Nortel’s] survival to offer this kind of migration product,” says Anthony Kellogg, project manager at the University of Southern California University Hospital, which has about 1,000 Meridian phones. “If they can tap into their customer base and make IP part of the regular Meridian upgrade cycle, it will be huge for them.”

But the 1000M solution may have come a little late for his organization, Kellogg adds. The hospital uses a Cisco CallManager IP PBX to connect Wi-Fi IP phones from SpectraLink to its Nortel voice network. The hospital could also extend wired IP voice to new buildings with the Cisco platform.

“At this point, any IP telephony expansion we do will involve the Cisco box,” Kellogg adds.

Some details of Nortel’s Succession 1000M strategy have yet to be sketched out, such as what the cost savings – on a per-user basis – will be when migrating a Meridian PBX to a Succession 1000M IP PBX. Observers say another challenge for Nortel will be how its Succession 1000M product strategy translates to the vendor’s channel partners, on which it relies heavily for customer sales and support.

Another new feature in Succession 3.0 is the ability to tie a Succession 1000M to Nortel’s forthcoming Succession MX. The MX is a multimedia messaging and call control server based on the Session Initiation Protocol, which can deliver converged voice, video and presence applications to several different kinds of SIP-enabled IP endpoints. Other enhancements in Succession 3.0 include the ability for remote office users to access local 911 service while tied to a remote IP PBX over a WAN connection.

Succession 3.0, and configurations for the Succession 1000M, will be available in the fourth quarter. Pricing for the software upgrade was not available.