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Cisco, IBM announce Net phone services

Big Blue and Cisco Systems say their Internet phone products and services will appeal to a range of customers, from small businesses to large corporations.

IBM and Cisco Systems on Tuesday announced plans to offer Internet telephony services and products, in a move designed to capture growing demand for the technology among businesses and large corporations.

As previously reported, Cisco will provide voice, video and rich-media conferencing technology, while Big Blue will handle related services.

Demand for Internet phone service is picking up, as companies look to cut the cost of their telephone bills by using existing Internet Protocol data networks for their voice traffic. Cisco has been active in this area of technology, which is known as voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. The company announced this week that it has shipped 3 million IP phones.

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"We intend to integrate Cisco's IP communications with IBM's integrated industry solutions," Doug Elix, IBM sales and distribution senior vice president and group executive, said in a statement. "Converged communications running on intelligent networks is changing the way business is conducted, and we expect both companies to be major players in that business transformation."

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Jeff Ridley, ShoreTel and David Heard, SecureLogix

The VoIP technology and services the companies will provide include IBM DB2 Information Management database software in Cisco CallManager, Tivoli systems management certification with Cisco CallManager and support for Cisco CallManager on IBM eServer xSeries x345, x306 and x345 dual-central processing unit server platforms.

Cisco and IBM said their partnership will not detract from the business their resellers and service providers receive. Both companies said the agreement will "extend the value of new and existing IBM and Cisco offerings" to independent software vendors and service providers.

Drawbacks of VoIP include the lack of battery backup to phones, problems with the routing of 911 calls and spotty voice quality.