Nortel Acquires Open-Source PBX Pioneer Pingtel

By Judy Mottl | Aug 14, 2008 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/Nortel-Acquires-Open-Source-PBX-Pioneer-Pingtel-3765411.htm

In its quest to sell small and mid-size businesses (SMB) on unified communications (UC) services, Nortel Networks announced today it is acquiring VoIP and UC software maker Pingtel for an undisclosed amount.

Nortel, which for more than a year had been licensing Pingtel's open-source technology for its own products, said the purchase would give it greater UC software capabilities as well as improve future product development.

"This will give us greater flexibility in our go-to-market strategy and extend communications capabilities on our open system platform," said David Downing, Nortel's general manager for enterprise and SMB communications systems.

A substantial amount of Pingtel's technology is already built into Nortel's Software Communication System 500, a SMB offering that Downing said is receiving strong market traction.

The acquisition, which has Nortel buying Pingtel from the smaller firm's most recent owner, BlueSocket, illustrates a growing trend, as vendors strive to push out seamless and easy-to-manage UC solutions—but often don't have the capacity to develop needed software elements in-house.

The move also demonstrates a continued drive by UC vendors to grab share in the SMB market, a segment one analyst said has been largely ignored.

"The SMB market has been under-served by UC providers and these players are now realizing there is a bucket of money to be made," Mike Karp, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, told InternetNews.com.

"It's a green field of opportunity and what Nortel has done is exactly what other players are doing, as most don't have IP technology development expertise, and it's more efficient to pull in new technology," Karp said.

The acquisition is only the latest in Nortel's ongoing UC efforts. In April, the company expanded a UC partnership with IBM aimed at the SMB market, in a move to challenge competitors such as Microsoft.

Nortel said the Pingtel acquisition would enhance its current offerings for smaller businesses as well as the upcoming SS450, slated for launch in October. The SS450 provides UC capabilities using older telephony systems, and is aimed at companies that can't afford to replace or revamp their existing legacy telephone setups.

"The '450 is a different product as it's for the hybrid market—the enterprise customer that can't reinvent its phone systems but wants UC capabilities," Downing said.

Downing said all Pingtel employees would be integrated into Nortel.

The acquisition also advances Nortel's efforts to support open source UC development, Downing said.

"Pingtel's been a big contributor to the open source effort, contributing over 300 individual systems, which align with our vision of the promise UC has," Downing said.

This article was originally published in sister site internetnews.com.