The Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA) is a telecommunications alliance between Microsoft and Nortel, created in July 2006, to co-develop, integrate, market, sell, and support unified communications products. The two companies are working together to create integrated hardware and software solutions that join together voice, video, and data communications without requiring gateways or middleware. Microsoft and Nortel share developing technologies and patents for unified communications products.
As of August, 2007, the Gartner group identified Nortel and Microsoft as leaders in unified communications.
Nortel and Microsoft announced the Innovative Communications Alliance in July 2006. Nortel and Microsoft agreed to share patents, technology, marketing, and development for unified communications products. The companies have integrated Microsoft Office 2007 applications with the Nortel telecommunication hardware (Communication Server 2100, Communication Server 1000, Secure Router 4134, and LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540), in order to provide unified enterprise communications products such as secure instant messaging, presence, voice and video telephony, and web conferencing. The alliance permits the two companies to accelerate their development of unified communications solutions.
This is a commercial strategic direction to compete with numerous messaging options from competitors such as Google Talk, Office SIP Messenger, Miranda, and AIM. Many of these other products offer instant messaging, Voice over IP (VOIP), and file transfers at little or no cost.
The Carrier Hosted Unified Communications Solution is an integration of the Nortel Communication Server 2000 softswitch with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2000 and Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging, to provide instant messaging, voice services, video conferencing, and other multimedia services.
As of January, 2007, British and Dutch Royal Dutch Shell had deployed approximate 2,000 Nortel phones to work with Microsoft Office Communicator client. ASUSteK Computer is using unified communications solutions from Nortel and Microsoft for its internal communications.