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Lucent, Compaq team for messaging deal

The telecom equipment giant agrees to an alliance with Compaq to sell its all-in-one messaging technology to the PC world.

Telecommunications equipment giant Lucent Technologies today announced an alliance with systems player Compaq Computer to bring its all-in-one messaging technology to the PC world.

The two companies plan to implement Lucent's universal messaging software on Compaq's Intel and Alpha chip-based computer systems that run Microsoft's Windows NT operating system and Exchange messaging package.

Similar to today's agreement, Lucent is already involved in a messaging deal with high-end systems firm Sun Microsystems. Yet the company says the Sun agreement is focused more on the consumer market, while the Compaq deal is crafted for businesses. The joint work with Sun will result in a new set of technologies, scheduled to be released in the third quarter of this year.

All-in-one messaging systems allow individuals to access information--whether it be faxes, email, or voice mail--in one place. Universal messaging has become a hot area as service providers and telecom carriers look to provide a wider array of business services to boost revenue.

The Lucent-Compaq deal follows an effort by Nortel Networks announced last month to implement its high-end messaging software on PC-based systems. That deal also includes use of Microsoft's Exchange software.

Lucent's Octel messaging division looks to take advantage of the popularity of universal messaging with a product called Unified Messenger.

"We see this as providing more choices for service providers," said Vinnie Deschamps, general manager of unified messaging for Lucent, of the Compaq deal.

Under terms of the pact, Lucent plans to integrate and sell its Octel technology for Microsoft's Exchange server on Compaq's Intel and Alpha-based server systems. Compaq will also resell Lucent's technology and provide consulting services.

The computing giant says it owns a 60 percent share of the Exchange-based server system market.

The unified messaging service is currently in trials with four phone carriers, according to company executives, and will be available by the end of this quarter.

Compaq executives said they hope to reduce the complexity often associated with implementing high-end messaging functions. "You're taking the magic out of this thing," said Lex Dekkers, Compaq's director for messaging and collaboration solutions.

As part of the alliance, Lucent also purchased a set of messaging technologies developed by Compaq's Digital Equipment arm for an undisclosed sum.