Nortel Networks last week unveiled a voice and data convergence system for small-to-midsize businesses that lets customers use existing telephones while migrating to IP telephony.
Nortel's Business Series system consists of the Business Communications Manager and the Business Policy Switch. The Business Communications Manager, formerly known as Enterprise Edge, is a small business IP telephony platform that also supports messaging and call centre applications.
The Business Policy Switch is a stackable LAN switch that enforces quality-of-service (QoS) policies for IP voice and data.
In addition to supporting IP routing, integrated voice and data applications, LAN and WAN QoS, and Web-browser management, the Business Series system offers users a choice of circuit-switched telephony or IP telephony, or both. Circuit switching is a feature that competitors Cisco and 3Com do not offer in their IP telephony products.
"Cisco and 3Com are pure LAN PBXs, whereas the Nortel solution is by no means pure," says IDC analyst Paul Strauss. "It does allow the use of existing telephones. This is kind of a hybrid solution, which is probably in many ways more attractive to small-and-midsize businesses than a totally radical change of packets."Citing data from market researcher Cahners In-Stat Group, Nortel expects the small-business IP telephony market to grow from $US540 million this year to $2.1 billion by 2003.
Business Communications Manager supports two LAN connections: one for a router and one for a hub, or a v.32 connection on its WAN card for a separate router or frame relay access device connection. The box also sports a voice T-1 line and a data T-1 line that features an integral CSU and supports frame relay, PPP and multilink PPP.
The system also features an ISDN Primary Rate Interface as well as a Basic Rate Interface, and supports H.323 for voice-over-IP (VoIP) gateway applications.
The Business Policy Switch is a stackable 24-port 10/100 Base-T Ethernet Layer 2 switch that provides Layer 3 and Layer 4 packet classification and prioritisation. Up to eight of the policy switches can be stacked together. The switch also features Gigabit Ethernet and ATM uplink options for connections to other switches and routers.
IP applications can be recognised via 802.1p bits, IP Type of Service/Diff-Serv byte, source/destination MAC address, IP source/destination address or subnet, TCP/ User Datagram Protocol (UDP) source/destination port, ingress port number, IP protocol ID Layer 3 protocols or virtual LAN ID. Once the switch recognises and classifies traffic, it assigns it to one of four per-port priority queues.
Voice traffic is automatically granted the highest priority, Nortel said.www.nortel.com