Will Succession mean simplicity?

In the last year and a half, as enterprises and carriers both began the inevitable migration from circuit-switched to packet-based networks, Nortel hashed out product lines to help along the way. But has that led to confusion?

In the last year and a half, as enterprises and carriers both began the inevitable migration from circuit-switched to packet-based networks, Nortel hashed out product lines to help along the way. But has that led to confusion?

by Brian Ploskina, Inter@ctive Week

16 May 2000 -- Software company Symantec is putting Internet Protocol features into its Nortel Networks Meridian private branch exchange by installing the Meridian Integrated IP Telephony Gateway and moving to Nortel's i2004 Internet phones.

Meanwhile, Gestalt Technology, a North Carolina-based provider of Web hosting and Internet consulting services, is testing Nortel's Succession Communications Server for Enterprise and the Nortel Call Pilot unified messaging platform.

What do these two have in common? One is an enterprise and the other is a service provider, so not a whole heck of a lot - except that they now get their products under the same brand and build of technology from Nortel: the Succession Internet telephony line.

Slow migration
In the last year and a half, as enterprises and carriers both began the inevitable migration from circuit-switched to packet-based networks, Nortel hashed out product lines to help along the way. These included the Succession line to enable carriers to migrate slowly to packet networks; IP Central for carriers that are just starting out or that want to move directly to packet networks; and the Internet Communications Architecture (INCA) for enterprises looking to evolve.

Nortel also had its other products, such as the Meridian PBX (private branch exchange), Call Pilot unified messaging, the i2004 and i2050 hardware and software IP phones, and Clarify CRM (customer relationship management) horizontally distributed throughout these product lines. Slowly but surely, the lines between evolution and revolution, carrier and enterprise, began to fade, and Nortel needed to show customers it understood where networks were heading.

The end result is Succession, a single brand that encompasses all IP-related products and elements for carriers and enterprises. "We got to a point where we had separate, yet complete Internet platforms," says Christine Durham, director of portfolio marketing at the enterprise business.

Maybe this was just a little confusing to Nortel's customers. "Now we have one single architecture, instead of branching out like we did with INCA," Durham says. "Customers can purchase something now and evolve the platform as things become available."

In addition, the other offerings that Nortel produces under the Succession name, such as the IP phones, will be sold to both carriers and enterprise customers, since the architectures are identical. In each case, whether you're talking about an incumbent carrier with an installed base, a new carrier that wants to built on packet technology or an enterprise customer that wants to move toward the next generation, they can all get products under the same brand name.

"I think the customers were seeing too many brands and there was some confusion, so Nortel got the message from customers directly," says Mike Arellano, a consultant at Degas Communications. "The word Succession has a very clear meaning in terms of next generation or what follows."

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