MCI Maps Out Convergence Networking Plan

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2003-04-29

MCI Maps Out Convergence Networking Plan

LAS VEGAS—Two weeks after changing its name and headquarters, MCI Corp. on Tuesday began to map out a product roadmap centered around its strategy of "convergence networking," a single IP platform that brings together data and voice onto one network.

The goal is to enable enterprises to bring their disparate communications networks—including local, long-distance, voice and data—together, Ron McMurtrie, vice president of global marketing at MCI, told a group of reporters and analysts at the N+I show here.

To allow this to happen, MCI—formerly WorldCom Inc.—is taking all of its IP and data networks—such as private and public VPNs, and Asynchronous Transport Model—onto a single IP platform, McMurtrie said.

"Clearly IP has won the game," he said. "Its where the futures going."

It enables enterprises to more quickly and easily move and manage the rapidly mounting volumes of data while at the same time driving communications costs down, some by as much as 25 percent to 35 percent, MCI officials said.

The Ashburn, Va., company will unveil the first phase of its plan in June, when it announces its network-based IP VPN Remote offering. The architecture will tie together MCIs private and public infrastructures via security internetworking gateways, and will enable the company to offer services that will address any enterprises communications needs, McMurtrie said.

MCI later this year will offer its MCI Advantage voice and data service with Private IP, its MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) VPN offering. All this will enable enterprises to run voice, video and data applications over their private VPNs.

Steve Harris, an analyst with International Data Corp., said he was particularly interested in MCI focusing on the use of MPLS, which is designed to speed up network traffic flow while also making it easier to manage.

"Theres a lot that can be done with it, but I havent seen a lot of companies do much with it," said Harris, who is based in Fairfax, Va. "This announcement [by MCI] to me communicates that this company is going to do that. But Ive heard that before."

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During an interview with eWEEK, McMurtrie said that while MPLS is a fairly common technology, MCI will make it uniform throughout its platform and offerings.

Other products MCI will launch throughout the year include new intelligent services such as its managed Enterprise Content Delivery Service to ease content management for enterprises, McMurtrie said. MCI also wants to be able to help enterprises and vendors deploy Web services-based applications via its IP network.

Furthermore, the company later this year will roll out an enhanced managed services portfolio for its myriad offerings. Fred Briggs, president of operations and technology for MCI, said the company wants to help enterprises manage their data center resources—such as servers—but will stop short of managing applications.

McMurtrie said MCI is in a unique position given the reach of its global IP network, on which it has spent $38 billion building over the past six years.

"That is unique to MCI," he said. "It wont be replicated."

This will give the company a leg up on the number and kinds of services it offers on the network, he said. Briggs also pointed out that MCIs entire infrastructure can be moved onto the IP network over the next three years with no need for a major upgrade to the system.

The announcement was part of MCIs push forward as it distances itself from WorldCom and the accounting scandal and subsequent bankruptcy that had threatened to bring down the company. Two weeks ago, Chairman and CEO Michael Capellas announced the name change and the headquarters move from Clinton, Miss., to Ashburn.

McMurtrie said the product roadmap outlined on Tuesday also is a way to bring MCI back to its innovation roots, and to bring innovation back to an industry that had become based on price.

"I think for us, a lot of people are looking ahead and how were going to execute it," he said.

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