NEC Announces UC Integrated with Lotus Foundations Appliance

IBM and NEC team up with a unified communications (UC) appliance that integrates with IBM's Lotus Foundations UC solution and aimed at budget-conscious businesses.

Communications, networking and IT solutions specialist NEC announced the Univerge Sphericall for IBM Lotus Foundations, a unified communications (UC) solution that is fully integrated with IBM Lotus Foundations, an appliance that extends IBM Lotus Sametime unified communications and collaboration (UC(2)) tools with the ability to connect to telephony. The solution, announced at the annual IBM Lotusphere conference in Orlando, is aimed at small to medium-size businesses (SMBs).

Sphericall for Foundations was designed as a software solution that combines the basic communications needs with the power of unified communications tools. By leveraging the autonomic technology in Lotus Foundations, NEC said a business can install and configure their entire UC environment in an easy to manage and cost-effective solution. In addition to the networking and IT software services the Lotus Foundations solution provides, the Sphericall software enables other options for businesses to enhance collaboration within their business, including making mobile phones an integral part of the business phone system, setup work-at-home office extensions, utilize PC Video softphone and messaging and adding wireless (WiFi) telephones to untethered office users.

"Small businesses want the benefits collaborative tools can provide, but these tools must be simple to buy, install, and maintain," said Brent Kelly, senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research. The ability for the Foundations Server to auto configure itself and a significant portion of the telephony system is a compelling capability that should make unified communications and collaboration much easier for channel partners to sell and for the SMB to adopt."

NEC also highlighted the ways in which the solution can help save on travel costs and enhance communications, including integrating video conferencing meeting room equipment, adding personal video telephones and utilizing video softphone technology. The solution also connects existing analog fax machines or conference phones and connects directly into existing telephone services, analog or digital.

"Now more than ever, SMBs want to take advantage of the benefits that unified communications can bring to their business, but they often do not have the resources and ability to customize and manage multiple applications," said Jay Krauser, general manager, sales support and engineering, NEC Corporation of America, who noted the solution offers Foundations partners the ability to provide telephony as part of their portfolio as a quick and easy add on. "The integration of Sphericall into Foundations with Sametime software opens up opportunities for businesses to give everyone in their organization access to enterprise-class communication features and functionality."