Microsoft Dials Up AT&T in Business Document Alliance

AT&T and Microsoft announced a five-year alliance yesterday to deploy and deliver Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications services.

The companies said they would focus on messaging, collaboration, media and business applications and expect the collaboration to drive development of new service bundles.

One of the first goals of the five-year road map will be an effort by Microsoft to Web services-enable AT&T’s Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service so it can be delivered through the Microsoft Connected Services Framework to enterprise customers along with other communications services. Microsoft Connected Services Framework is an integrated software solution for building and managing complex services using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web service interfaces.

“These services will enable enterprises to implement integrated collaboration, messaging, VoIP and conferencing services without the capital investment that locks them into solutions that are not future-proofed,” said Dave Dorman, chairman and CEO of AT&T. “As global commerce increasingly relies on the networked enterprise to move business forward, its significance can’t be overstated.”

Practical Apps On Tap

In collaboration with Microsoft technology, AT&T’s Managed Application Infrastructure will enable workers to extend collaboration and messaging needs through real-time synchronization.

For example, a once-static document could be shared via a portal and not only display the author’s name, but also the author’s presence, availability and preferred communications method at that moment, including e-mail, instant messaging and voice.

Documents could be shared through a Web conference among several individuals, and changes to the document could be shared across multiple end-user devices and in the format preferred by the end user.

Converged Communications

The companies will deploy the new services on Microsoft’s Connected Services Framework and deliver them via AT&T’s network. Microsoft’s Connected Services Framework will allow any business, anywhere in the world, to plug any application on any device into AT&T’s IP-enabled multiprotocol label switching network.

Aaron Nutt, Atlantic-ACM analyst covering the VoIP sector, told TechNewsWorld that the AT&T-Microsoft alliance demonstrates the movement toward converged communications.

“Microsoft has been working closely with many different telcos to develop standards and technology for IP-based video,” Nutt said. “Microsoft understands that this is another revenue opportunity to expand its portfolio.”

Microsoft’s Communications Push

Analysts said this is another step toward user interfaces in the world of voice communications taking on the appearance of computer operating systems. Between the AT&T initiative and Windows Mobile 5.0, Microsoft appears to be making progress toward pushing its technologies into new communications arenas.

“Eventually we will something that’s akin to Windows, but perhaps more streamlined or adapted to function well on other devices,” Nutt said. “In the future one operating system will run many different types of communications methods.”

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