The Convergence story can only start from the beginning…
By the end of the calendar year 1997, Northern Telecom (now Nortel Networks) had divided the data division which had been a growing unit of the Enterprise Networks (Meridian, Norstar, Passport, Micom, Call Center apps) division under Rick Faletti (in the fall of 1997, Rick left NT and Jim Long was appointed President Enterprise Voice) into three parts:
- Enterprise Data Networks (led by Bill Conner) which had the Passport Wide Area Networking "Enterprise Network Switch" and Micom (FRAD and access) products, a global direct sales force and a developing reseller channel;
- The joint NT-FORE product for carriers (AT&T was a big customer of this ATM switch), which was integrated into the Broadband Networks division, led by Ian Craig;
- The Rapport Internet Dialup Switch product for carriers, which was integrated into the RBOC or ILEC unit led by Clarence Chandran.
I called this the 'King Lear strategy' and told my friends that this story was already 500 years old and had been written by William Shakespeare! The synopsis was to divide the kingdom between three daughters and led to the country being taken over by a foreign power. Bad idea.
Anyways, Bill recognized that NT needed to place several technology bets. The NT Wide Area Networking business, then over $500M/year was built on doing voice over frame relay, voice over ATM and with the Micom acquisition, Voice over IP. It was clear that the company needed to move further to the edge with an IP PBX.
Micom had developed a VoIP codec card that fit in a PC and could accept analog voice and transmit that across an IP backbone. This card quickly became a market leader partly because Micom's channels were experts in saving cost-conscious customers money using features like this.
I was Director of Market Development reporting into Chandran's organization.