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Converged networks find increasing favour

Separate voice and data so last century

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More and more enterprises are merging their voice and data networks together in a bid to slash telephony costs and boost productivity through the introduction of new applications. Enabling new applications - rather than simply saving money - is becoming the main engine of growth in the market, according to a survey of Nortel Networks customers published yesterday.

A survey of 430 Nortel Networks shops by Mindwave Research reveals that more than 27 per cent of respondents have already deployed a converged networking infrastructure. Four in five (79 per cent) of businesses quizzed either plan to converge the disparate elements of their communications networks within five years or already use a converged network.

"Converged networks are being implemented at an aggressive pace for businesses of all sizes in all economic sectors. Put simply, companies recognize the emerging applications, cost savings and productivity enhancements enabled by a single networking infrastructure and are poised to realize these benefits," said Malcolm Collins, president, Enterprise Networks, Nortel Networks.

The top three cited benefits of converged networks cited by members of Nortel Networks' Users Association are the ability to deploy integrated applications more easily (42 per cent); minimizing costs and complexity associated with moves, additions or changes (35 per cent); and the ability to deploy enhanced voice functions (34 per cent). Factors holding back progress towards converged networks include uncertainty about whether converged networks will save money (a factor cited by 48 per cent of those quizzed), lack of budget (47 per cent) and the requirement of systems to manage and troubleshoot IP voice quality (42 per cent).

Only ten per cent of respondents to the survey have rolled out a WLAN infrastructure enterprise-wide but the majority (55 per cent) have deployed a limited wireless LANs or plan to within the year. Increasing employee productivity through mobility was the top reason cited for deploying WLANs and the biggest challenge was security concerns (cited as a challenge by 20 per cent of respondents).

Nortel has shipped more than 50 million enterprise telephony lines and more than 50 million Ethernet ports worldwide to date. Nortel said it would introduce a new Blueprint to Enable Deployment of Converged Network, dubbed Architecture for the Converged Enterprise (ACE), at next week’s Global Connect 2004 conference. Details remain sparse at this point but ACE promises to offer "building blocks to implement a converged infrastructure that is easy to manage, secure and efficient".

Smashing. ®

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