Nortel voice and data channels remain separate

Nortel voice and data channels remain separate

For all of Nortel's rhetoric about converged voice and data, it is still not ready to bring together its voice and data channels.

The networking giant has finally consummated its marriage in Australia by bringing together, in the last month, the Bay data networking business with Nortel's enterprise PABX business. They will fall under the banner of the Nortel Enterprise Group which will be managed by former Bay boss Steve Rust.

However, for the immediate future, its voice and data channel operations will be run separately, Rust said.

"We will over time bring the two channels together, but for the moment we have a lot of voice resellers who still want to specialise in voice, and data resellers who are concentrating on data."

Rust believes there will be more convergence among the two channel camps when Nortel brings out voice and data solutions specifically packaged for the dealer channel, early next year.

"There certainly will be a lot of opportunity for resellers to expand beyond the businesses they are currently in," Rust said.

For example, Rust expects Nortel to deliver on its alliance with Intel, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, with server bundles that enable applications like unified messaging.

Gary Starr will run Nortel's data channel, while Rob Pierce will manage Nortel's voice resellers. While it has decided against bracketing its two channels together, Nortel's internal sales and marketing operations have now been merged.

"We're running with a single team and we've been pretty rapidly cross-skilling our people. So the voice guys have received data training and vice versa for our data people," Rust said.

A mix of Bay and Nortel executives have picked up state management positions, Rust claimed. For example, Peter Jaffe from the Bay side of the fence will manage Melbourne, while Nortel's Neville Marsh will manage Sydney.

Another issue that is still to be resolved is the merging of the two company's compensation policies, although Rust claimed there was not that great a difference in how Nortel and Bay sales staff have been remunerated in the past. However, rumours persist that Nortel will struggle to hold on to talented Bay sales staff who are not willing to accept a compromise on compensation.

On the Asia-Pacific side, Mike George, who previously ran Bay in Canada and Japan, will take the reins, while Bay's Steve Woods "is moving to another division", Rust said. ARN understands Woods is moving into Nortel's Asia carrier division.

Nortel president David House is interviewed on the progress of the Nortel/Bay merger on page 62

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