Global services giant Electronic Data Systems (EDS) will use the Comdex show in Las Vegas this week as the venue to launch its service initiative to move clients' voice, video, and data traffic off phone lines and onto a converged IP network.
EDS calls its new service the Intelligent Network Foundation (INF). It can be deployed for both wired and wireless platforms and will include voice over IP (VoIP), Web chat capability for customer service, unified messaging, and access to data via wireless devices.
Having one IP network allows companies to quickly make changes and costs less than supporting multiple networks, experts say.
"Instead of waiting six months for Nortel engineers to provide you with new services, you could have a specialist, professional-services organisation do it [more quickly]," said Eric Goodness, director and principal analyst for network and Internet services at analyst Gartner Dataquest.
According to Byrne Mulrooney, vice president of portfolio management services at EDS and the executive in charge of INF, a converged network will cut support costs as well as the cost of ownership by as much as 25 percent.
"Companies can take that 25 per cent saved on operating expenses and redirect it toward a revenue-generating effort," Mulrooney said.
A single IP network will also lead to the rise of professional services organisations that will not have to customise services for each client.
"Service organisations will get repeatability, and as margins decline, they will be able to continue to make money," said Dean Davison, vice president of service management strategies at Meta Group.
But giving organisations high-speed global access to people and data raises security issues.
In attempting to lower costs by reducing the complexity of networks, the industry may need to add more, not less, infrastructure, said Robert Carman, program manager of enterprise technology at Boeing.
Although faxing a paper document over a phone line may be a simple process, making corporate databases accessible to employees and external business partners will require companies to impose limitations, to start compartmentalising information, and to add a layer of people who need to worry about compliance with security procedures, Carman said.
EDS this week will also launch BlueSphere, a business unit to focus on improving back-end Web integration, said Brad Rucker, executive director of Interactive Architects Practice at EDS. Rucker, who is expected to be named BlueSphere's president, said clients are no longer interested in bolt-on solutions.
"We've had a lot of clients with a Web presence -- a nice, slick site -- but when it generates orders, they've got some significant problems [with integration]," Rucker said.