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Digital ports NT for telcos

The company will spur deployment of Microsoft's high-end operating system in telecommunications firms.

Telecommunications firms using Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows NT?

It may seem a bit far-fetched now, given the nascent state of the fast-growing operating system's industrial-strength features, but the software giant still is banking on future success, with the help of a close partner.

Digital Equipment (DEC) has announced plans to offer an NT-based version of its DECss7 software product in August of this year, with a software developer's kit available immediately. The software previously has only run on Digital's own high-end Unix and OpenVMS OSes.

The recent telco thrust is the latest in a long line of initiatives to promote NT in the corporate enterprise market, even though much of the current various NT functions are not yet up to par, according to analysts.

Given the fact that telecom companies require computer systems that never fail, most analysts believe that the telecommunications niche--dominated by Unix deployments--could be one of the last markets to embrace NT as the foundation for network usage.

Most users deploy Windows NT Server for file and print services, email, or as a gateway to the Net, according to a survey completed by International Data Corporation. But Microsoft, never one to shy away from a marketing opportunity, continues to promote NT as a dependable alternative for large-scale deployments.

"Microsoft has convinced people of several things about NT," noted Dan Kusnetzky, program director for operating environments and serverware at IDC.

Initial targets once the Digital software rolls out are services such as unified messaging and virtual call center applications.

But even Digital executives say it could be some time--up to three or four years--before a large telecommunications carrier even thinks about adding NT-based systems to their vast network operations. Executives said most NT deployments in telecom settings go into small firms, such as new entrants in the wireless market.

"We have to prove that NT is capable," admitted Philippe Ravix, DECss7 product manager for Digital. "We're going to get there. I think we're cracking it little by little."

The SS7 protocol essentially acts as a "traffic cop" for the vast worldwide telephone system by shuttling information from phones to the massive databases in the nerve centers of major phone companies.

In a related move, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories (GCTI) announced it be the first telecommunications software provider to take advantage of Digital's DECss7 interfaces for its Virtual Call Center and Intelligent Call Routing applications.

A demonstration of Genesys's first application, called the Interaction Router, runs on Digital's NT-based software and will roll out at the IN World Forum technology conference at the end of this month.