US Report: Lucent, Sun unite for unified messaging

Lucent Technologies and Sun Microsystems have teamed to create a unified-messaging platform for release in early 1999.

The partnership, announced Monday, will let phone companies and Internet service providers start selling services that allows large numbers of people to use voice mail, e-mail and fax through whichever medium they choose, the companies said. "This collaboration is significant because it will move unified messaging into the mainstream," said Doug Sabella, chief operating officer of Lucent's Octel messaging division. "By joining forces with Sun, we will be able to take this technology to the next level and make unified messaging a truly ubiquitous service worldwide."

The platform will marry Sun's Solaris operating environment and Internet Mail Server with Lucent's Octel messaging platform and Bell Labs text-to-speech technology. The companies will jointly develop, market and sell the open, standards-based platform. Key end-user markets are home offices, mobile professionals and corporations outsourcing their messaging.

The effort is intended to address the pleas of service providers eager to offer unified-messaging services but lacking systems sufficiently reliable and easy to use on a large scale. "It's very interesting technology and a promising partnership," said Gartner Group Research Director Joyce Graff.

An entire car purchase, for example, could be conducted through a "dynamic Yellow Pages" system encompassing a combination of phone, e-mail and fax communications.