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Cisco, Sun team to simplify messaging services

The two companies strike a partnership to provide technology that will allow people to check email and voice messages and fax from a single electronic device.

Cisco Systems and Sun Microsystems struck a partnership today to provide technology that will provide access to email, fax, and voice messages over a single device, like a phone or PC.

As previously reported, the alliance will provide the hardware and software that Internet service providers and telecom carriers will need to integrate unified messaging--combining email, voice mail, and fax service in one location--into their networks.

Internet service providers, or ISPs, are seeking to provide a wider variety of business services to boost revenue, and they see unified messaging as a potentially lucrative new opportunity.

Stuart Wells, senior vice president of the Sun-Netscape Alliance, said having unified messaging available on handheld devices, such as pagers, will help drive demand for the service.

"It opens up the Internet to people who haven't really used it before," Wells said. "There's 3 billion telephones and 800 million cell phones worldwide, and these technologies will allow people who may not have gained access to the Internet before to have access."

Wells said the alliance also plans to offer scheduling and calendar features into the service in the near future.

As part of the partnership, Cisco is providing a mix of hardware and software, including remote access servers and voice gateways. Sun is offering Netra servers running on the Solaris Unix-based operating system, and the Sun-Netscape Alliance is providing its messaging and directory software products.

System integrator Cap Gemini has signed on to build the technology into ISPs and carrier's networks.