HP preps all-in-one voice, data computer

Hewlett-Packard will launch the first tangible evidence of collaboration with Microsoft, Intel, and Nortel Networks in July when it ships a new all-in-one computer for a company's voice and data needs.

Hewlett-Packard will launch the first tangible evidence of collaboration with Microsoft, Intel, and Nortel Networks in July when it ships a new all-in-one computer for a company's voice and data needs.

The technology combines software from the voice side of Nortel and Microsoft's Windows NT Server operating system with hardware from Intel and HP. The intent of the device is to deliver PBX-like equipment using off-the-shelf software and hardware, thereby lowering the costs of setting up on-premise services such as voicemail.

The combination of software and hardware, called the HP Business Communications Server, is an outgrowth of an alliance between HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Nortel announced in March.

HP and its partners want to essentially foster a new market for converged voice and data technologies that will allow both forms of communications to coexist on a computer network.

HP aspires to lower the cost of providing voice services while integrating data capabilities in one box. The company's thrust is toward smaller businesses or corporations with satellite offices. A typical organization might include 50 users and would combine voice services with advanced features, such as universal messaging, and a typical business application, such as a resource planning program, according to HP executives.

The company believes it has helped to create what is essentially a new niche, according to Dan Abouav, director of strategic programs for HP's communications industry business unit.

Analysts said HP is targeting what is essentially a new business target, since previously, small businesses could not financially justify a PBX in many cases.

"If you're a small shop and you want a lot of PBX-like functions, you'll go that way," said Maribel Lopez, analyst with industry consultants Forrester Research.

"Any big Fortune 500 company wouldn't think of putting a PBX on an NT server," Lopez added.

The Business Communications Server starts at $12,995, a far cry from the price tag for a typical PBX. The device can handle up to 80 voice lines, though HP executives have targeted offices with about 50 employees as a likely niche.

Separately, HP also said its services organization will support Nortel's portfolio networking products. Under terms of the deal, the two companies plan to jointly offer a wide range of service and support options for Nortel's equipment.

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