Microsoft begins to hone its telecom strategy
By Bob Trott
Posted at 3:00 PM PT, May 22, 1997
Microsoft has set its sights on yet another industry space, preparing
a telecommunications platform and product strategy that leans heavily
on its Windows NT Server and BackOffice.
The main thrust of Microsoft's telecommunications push is to make NT a
platform for Signaling System 7 (SS7) networks -- more commonly known
as the public switched telephone network (PSTN) -- thanks to work the
Redmond, Wash.-based company has done with a "leading international
supplier of telecommunications software," which officials would not
identify. SS7, developed by BellCore, is the operating system platform
telephone carriers use to run the PSTN.
"With a third party, we will be addressing the telecom market and
presenting NT as a platform for telecom-switching networks," said Bill
Anderson, director of telecom industry marketing at Microsoft. "At
this point it's a statement of direction, because we aren't shipping a
product with the third party until the end of the year. But we will be
getting increasing levels of penetration in the telecom market. It is
a logical extension of NT's maturing."
Microsoft attempted to answer critics who do not consider NT an equal
to Unix as a reliable operating system for mission-critical tasks,
such as managing a telephone system, by demonstrating NT's scalability
at an event hosted by Chairman Bill Gates on May 20. (See Microsoft
pitches NT as mainstay of enterprise servers.)
Clustering software, code-named Wolfpack, that is due out this summer
would offer further stability for telecommunications support,
Microsoft officials said.
Some observers were still not convinced.
"Microsoft has been working on SS7 for a while, but I have some doubt
here," said Steve Sazegari, president of TeleMac, a telecommunications
consultancy in Foster City, Calif. "The SS7 process requires fault
tolerance and redundancy. This is not an easy market and this may be
premature for them."
But others believe that the telecommunications arena is ripe for an
aggressive company such as Microsoft.
"This space has been a problematic one for everybody," said Dwight
Davis, editorial director of the Redmond, Wash.-based Windows Watcher
newsletter. "It is one that is full of promise, and there isn't anyone
really delivering on it."
At the June 3 Supercomm '97 conference in New Orleans, Microsoft will
tout its Microsoft Commercial Internet System as a robust platform for
Internet service providers to deliver their services.
Also, Microsoft has been working with Vertel to enable
telecommunications-management network compliance for NT Server.
Web-based, enterprise-management technology, which aims to consolidate
and unify data from various management technologies, also will be
Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Wash., can be reached at
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