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Nortel Strong-Arms Open Source Vendor Fonality 143

leecidivo alerts us to Tom Keating's blog, where he writes about how Nortel forced a former subsidiary to return its open source-based phone system (Fonality) after the subsidiary went public with how happy they are with the Fonality phone system compared to Nortel. Quoting: "What happens when a VoIP blog (yours truly) writes about the fact that a former Nortel subsidiary (Blade Network Technologies) went looking for a new phone system, chose an open-source Asterisk-based solution from Fonality instead of using Nortel's own PBX and then agreed to go on record on the VoIP & Gadgets blog about why they made such a shocking decision? A) Nothing — it's a VoIP blog — who cares? Nortel is an $11 billion dollar company that certainly doesn't read blogs for their news. B) Nortel reads the blog post, is a little peeved, but other than some emails sent internally, no one outside Nortel would ever know they were annoyed. C) A Nortel Board Member flips out over the article, contacts Blade and then pressures Blade to return the Fonality system and have Fonality print a retraction to the blog article (and the subsequent press release)."
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Nortel Strong-Arms Open Source Vendor Fonality

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  • excellent plan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:55PM (#19228555) Journal
    so now instead of a few people reading about a company switching to asterisk, all of slashdot reads about how Nortel are a bunch of dicks.

    nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan.
    • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:02PM (#19228717) Homepage Journal
      Every company I have worked at has a formal PR policy that says you cannot go on the record with the press (which is any time you are talking to them, if you are smart about it), you must clear it through PR. In some cases, once PR realizes that you're savvy enough to not say stupid things, they will put you on the "OK to contact directly" list.

      Violating the company's PR policy is a big deal, for the obvious reasons. I'm surprised that the IT Director is still employed there.
      • Violating the company's PR policy is a big deal, for the obvious reasons. I'm surprised that the IT Director is still employed there.

        You're making a ridiculous, unfounded statement. As per the article, they followed the procedure, and at least per the article, did not deny it.

        There is nothing in the article that indicates that anyone did anything wrong until the point at which they (Blade) announced that they had changed their mind.

        You have no reason to believe that he DID violate their PR policy.

        Until you do, please label all your speculations as such.

        • Gee, did I miss the part of the article that said that Blade's PR department reviewed the quote and OK'd Fonality to use it in a release? Because if that happened, it would be really, really relevant to the article and certainly press-worthy, hmmm?
          • Gee, did I miss the part of the article that said that Blade's PR department reviewed the quote and OK'd Fonality to use it in a release? Because if that happened, it would be really, really relevant to the article and certainly press-worthy, hmmm?

            You didn't miss it because it wasn't there. But what actually was there was an unrefuted implication that they indeed did do it. Let me help you:

            [...]"you didn't follow our internal process for authorizing a press release."

            "But it is *your* internal process, and we spoke, with permission, to your own Director of IT, who personally signed off on the release.[...]

            If Vikram had denied this, then they almost certainly would have mentioned this in the article, ostensibly to expose his lie. But the next text in the article is about how they never actually installed the product (I am assuming that the press release was concocted strictly on the strength of a demo, but that is quite irrelevant to this particular conversation) and then the next time Vikram is mentioned he is "press"ing Chris for a retraction again. Chris provides an ultimatum to Vikram and is hung up on, without any mention of Vikram ever denying (again) that proper procedure was followed.

            So one of several possibilities is true; Vikram could have denied it, and not been quoted. He could have not denied it, and it could still not be true. He could have not denied it, and had it be false; it could very well be that proper procedure was followed.

            My point, therefore, is that there is simply not enough information in the article to know which is true, and any indication in the article is that in fact the proper procedure was followed. But regardless, we don't know either way for sure, and so it is irresponsible to make assumptions about what really is or is not the case until we find out more.

            • by Romancer ( 19668 )
              I think that the only part of the quote that would need to be clairified would be the "with permission" part of "...and we spoke, with permission, to your own Director of IT..." Who gave permission is the question. The obvious answer would be, the only people who would either give or not give permission to a conversation specifically intended for a press release.
              And that would be PR.
              • The obvious answer would be, the only people who would either give or not give permission to a conversation specifically intended for a press release. And that would be PR.

                Or the CEO.

              • The obvious answer would be, the only people who would either give or not give permission to a conversation specifically intended for a press release. And that would be PR.

                Different companies have different policies, but the one you're describing is one I've never seen in 20 years in corporate America. What's normal is that company executives, typically including director positions and above, are allowed and expected to talk to the press, and are responsible for knowing enough not to say stupid things, and to talk to PR, legal, and/or other relevant executives whenever they're not sure what they should or shouldn't say. They wouldn't get fired for failing to clear a press

            • Does all this mean that maybe, possibly the Slashdot article could be a bit premature? That somebody is just kicking up some dust? Being contrary? Could all this be sorted out in a mud wrestling contest? I read the article. It's as clear as Mississippi mud. These plot lines are so confusing, as is any discussion involving more than two people. He said, she said. Makes for good soap opera, but I can't tell if there's a story here.
        • You don't talk smack about your own product. Even if they followed the rules there is always going to be at least one hot-head that won't stand for it.


          It's usually best to keep your opinions on your companies short comings to yourself or in a more productive setting.
      • by Minupla ( 62455 )
        According to the article the IT Director issued a "Press Release". In every company I've ever worked for this implies that the release went through the PR dept. I've worked in a lot of companies at different levels and I honestly wouldn't know how to send out a press release. I've always left that to the PR dept.

        • Fonality issued the release using Blade's IT Director's quote.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by huckda ( 398277 )

          According to the article the IT Director issued a "Press Release".

          from the article: "During the sale, Blade's Director of IT, Amon Prasad agrees to go on record in a Fonality press release..."
          he didn't issue anything...he agreed to go on record for FONALITY'S press release.
      • by Knara ( 9377 )
        I was kinda confused about that. They said "former subsidiary" a couple times, but they seem to be beholden to Nortel in some organizational fashion. Perhaps, like many organizations, the organizational structure is murky between the two bodies, and the PR for Blade signed off while the PR for Nortel got annoyed because they used the Nortel name in the press release.
      • I'm surprised that the IT Director is still employed there.
        I think it would be appropriate to substitute "CEO" for "IT Director", because, if the facts are true, I think that other shareholders have a strong case to sue the company, its officers and Nortel.
    • I wonder how long it will take for the community nature of the internet to sink thru the thick skulls of these dinosaurs and percolate into some grey cells.

      The first trains were considered dangerous at any speed faster than a horse, on the grounds that man could not breathe at such high speeds.

      The early automobiles had to be led by a man on foot waving a flag.

      How long before corporate dinos seem as quaint?
    • That Nortel people think Asterisk blows Nortel's equivalent products away.

      Mr. Executive... Good call. I'm sure there will be a "bonus" winging it's way to your desk real soon now.

    • Re:excellent plan (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:55PM (#19229419) Journal
      Not only that, I'd never heard of Fonality before this. Now I'll know their name and check out what they have to offer the next time I need to shop for a phone system.

      Good move, nortel! That's the way to show 'em!


      • We are VERY HAPPY with our install. Polycom IP501 and 601s, a Channel bank to go from copper to the server.

        Three thumbs up!

    • Why does Noone insult the family? Does he not like the family?

      You are talking about Peter Noone, the British musician from Herman's Hermits, right?
  • by KillerCow ( 213458 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:57PM (#19228569)
    Eat your own dogfood.

    • Why would it be? (Score:4, Informative)

      by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @07:29PM (#19229817)
      The summary and article are both incorrect.

      The person in question is NOT a "Nortel board member." He is on the Board of Directors of Blade Network Technologies [], the company which issued the press release. It's perfectly reasonable for a member of a company's Board of Directors to call the CEO and tell them they disagree with a decision, it no doubt happens quite frequently, since that's part of what the BoD does.

      Now, that particular board member is also an employee of Nortel (Vice President of Business Development, according the BoD bio), but that does not mean that he was speaking from that capacity.

      It's really pretty stupid to issue a press release which disses a company with which one of your board members has an outside relationship. Whoever approved that press release (Director of IT?) should have known that 2 of 4 members of his own company's board, including the CEO, had strong ties to the company he was dissing. The reaction shouldn't be unexpected.
    • tortuous interference. cool!
    • by 44BSD ( 701309 )
      Because 'tortious' and 'tortuous' are different words.
    • I thought it was straight-forward interference.

      Or did you mean tortious?

      Or maybe tortoise?

  • OK, I don't like it that a Nortel board member strong armed another company they have a minority interest in, but the article/blog entry on this is rather one sided. This excerpt for example:

    What you want me to publish a document that we're more expensive than Nortel and harder to use? How the heck do you expect me to print a retraction for something that is a) true and b) out of my control now that it is in the blogosphere?"
    I interrupted Chris's retelling of the conversation with Vikram and asked Chri
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Knara ( 9377 )
      Almost certainly Blade had a demo unit before they bought it. That's common practice.
    • Just because the one they purchased hasn't been installed yet, doesn't mean they never tested out a demo unit. Its pretty common to try before you buy.
    • by rs79 ( 71822 )
      I don't think I've ever seen the terms "Asterisk" and "easy to use" in the same sentance before. Ok maybe hat should be "easy to set up" it is actully easy to use ONCE it's set up and configured. It's undoubtedly the best product of its kind but... oh. My. God.

      Course, I've never set up a Notel PBX. No dount it's even harder and less capable.
      • by James McP ( 3700 )
        If someone, anyone, can set up an Asterix PBX from scratch then it is a relatively easy to configure PBX.

        I have been part of a Nortel PBX roll out. Nortel Meridian 61C, about 2 dozen T1s incoming, around 150 handsets, redundant IVRs (Symposium as primary that also did pre-queing for 4 other call centers, voicemail-based IVR as backup, old fashioned rotary groups as tertiary), with an early generation (1999) VoIP circuit.

        With experienced installers (Greg & Danny were great) it was a by-the-book PBX inst
        • by afidel ( 530433 )
          Why the heck would you have 2 dozen T1's for 150 handsets? Each T1 can do 24 voice channels so even if every line was active all the time you would only need a half dozen T1's to service all the handsets. Was there really 400% excess capacity in the system, or was that needed because of all of the different providers involved? I guess that's why going with a VoIP telco is so nice, you need only n+1 connections for redundancy instead of 2n+2m+2p etc for traditional telco circuits.
          • by James McP ( 3700 )
            We were an ISP call center, particularly an ISP for VARs, meaning that people would take our dial-up/ISDN (the pre-DSL days of 1995-2000) product and slap their brands on it. The customers (meaning the VARs) were responsible for the cost of call delivery and, since many of them were smaller telecom companies or larger companies that already had favorable bulk circuit rates, would often provision their own T1 into our facility.

            In some cases there would be Ts between their call centers and ours, allowing the
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SpacePunk ( 17960 )
      It just looks one sided. He certainly gave Nortel and Blade a chance to air their side of the story, and they declined. Their silence makes it one sided.
  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:01PM (#19228687) Homepage Journal
    What happens when an article is posted in the form of an overly long rhetorical question with confusing formatting and mutiple choice answers where the third option is presumed to be the correct answer? A) Slashdot readers, being generally fairly intelligent and thorough readers, react with good humor and are amused by the clever presentation. B) People reading the summary are somewhat confused and are forced to read it again to understand what is being said. C) A snarky post is made that light-heartedly mocks the original poster.
    • Unfortunately, too many slashdot submissions these days don't have what can really be called a summary. Instead they have a short excerpt from the article they are supposed to be summarizing, and the excerpt is as likely as not to have the most relevant points from the story in it.

      This was no exception.
    • E) All the above? ... Hey its how I scored big time on my S.A.T.s!
  • by hateful monkey ( 1081671 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:10PM (#19228841)
    D: Nortel takes the loss and redoubles its efforts to produce a VOIP system that is BETTER THAN THE OTHER OPTIONS! If companies would just shut up and stop trying to use lawyers and politics to keep customers and silence competitors maybe they could consentrate on making a product that is worthy of being used.
    • Like Microsoft says: Innovate!

      Oh, wait.
    • that would take R&D

      Guess what Nortel cut not so long ago.
    • by jimicus ( 737525 )
      Several years ago, I had a theory about technology development. I think I'm going to have to update it.


      In order to form a successful company, you have a number of options:

      1. Build a good quality product, sell it at a competitive price and look after your customers.
      2. Build garbage, send out flyers to every school you can think of saying "We are specialists in education!"
      3. New! Threaten, cajole, scream at and otherwise make life difficult for your competitors' customers. This option is in trial
  • by chdig ( 1050302 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:40PM (#19229229)
    Nortel Strong-Armed a competitor via a company that they have a minority interest in, and so the title should be, "Nortel Strong-Arms competitor" instead of "Nortel Strong-Arms Open Source Vendor".

    "Competitor" shows the relationship of Fonality to Nortel, while "open source" is just a blatant use of a popular term that does nothing for the article other than to misleadingly cry "look at me!!"

    What's Open Source got to do with the story? The phrase appears twice to describe what kind of product Fonality sells, and then not again for the rest of the entire story. If it was a closed system, would it make any difference to the story? Or a bigger question, would the story have made /. at all?

    As if we needed any more proof of the power that the blogosphere holds...
    The only thing Tom Keating has shown about the blogosphere is that it has the power to distort.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by roderickm ( 6912 )

      What's Open Source got to do with the story?

      Good point. Fonality is no more open than Cisco or other big telecom vendors that integrate -- but don't participate in -- open source. Fonality incorporates Asterisk, which is truly open source, but Fonality has never contributed anything back to the community. In fact, Fonality does all it can to minimize the role that Asterisk plays in its solution. The truth is that there would be no Fonality without Asterisk, and that Fonality (and Tom Keating) just say "open source" to get attention.

      To prove the poin

      • by tjrw ( 22407 )
        Umm... the very link you quote above contains: "But I do know that we are paying for the hosting of the site, and helped Andrew with a bunch of things including legal advice, etc.", "We provide him free hosting and bandwidth.".

        In what way, precisely, is this not contributing anything back to the community??
    • Nortel Strong-Armed a competitor via a company that they have a minority interest in, and so the title should be, "Nortel Strong-Arms competitor" instead of "Nortel Strong-Arms Open Source Vendor".

      It shouldn't even read that. Based on the summary, it's clear that it should be "Nortel Strong-Arms Spun-Off Subsidiary Into Using Nortel Product". The slashdot janitors, being only trained chimps, can't actually read. Their training apparently consists of learning to randomly hit the "accept submission" button. Good thing they're not paid to be editors, right?

    • by bahwi ( 43111 )
      Asterisk IS open source. The system they were using, which is closed source, is based off of asterisk. The story here is that an open source product, with a few patches(probably management stuff), outperforms one of the bigger players in the market. That's the story.
    • Seeing as Nortel has a share one could just as easily title it "Nortel buys from competitor, flip-flops, then strong-arms itself".
  • by el_flynn ( 1279 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:43PM (#19229265) Homepage
    There are two winners here:

    (a) Fonality. That a big ape like Nortel sits up and notices what they did, is testament to how well they handled the job of installing a viable alternative to Nortel's own equipment. This simply proves that Fonality and its products are justfiable expenditure.
    (b) Asterisk. That a big ape like Nortel is frightened enough of it brings another feather in Asterisk and Digium's hat.

    Nortel has embarassed itself on two accounts:
    (a) Its own subsidiary refuses to use its products
    (b) It's trying to force-feed its product on others -- how bad does that make it look?
  • Running Scared (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:47PM (#19229321)
    What's interesting about this is how Nortel's approach to Open Source competition is similar in ways to Microsoft's: Rather than compete based on true values of real innovation and service, they will put "strong-arm" pressure on customers and associates to get their way. Clearly such dinosaurs are unwilling to make the paradigm shift and running scared. I expect this sort of thing to go one with a number of Old-School industry giants, before they either buy into the OSS concept, or wither up and die.
  • Beautiful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by obtuse ( 79208 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:55PM (#19229407) Journal
    This is the best Asterisk sales pitch I've ever seen. Nortel is afraid. The big equipment vendors can barely sell to their captive customers, and they know it.

    We had millions in Avaya equipment. My migration plan was to introduce Asterisk servers to perform a few specialized functions, interfacing with our existing dozen Definity switches and use that to leverage our way towards Asterisk. We'd keep the Definity PBXs for running large offices, but use the Asterisk systems for VoIP integration and offload more & more functionality to Asterisk. The Lucent/Definity stuff is great but almost twice as much as Nortel.

    I pissed off the new CIO though, so I was replaced by someone who wanted to buy a thousand VoIP adapters to use with consumer VoIP accounts. It all works out though. He's smart so he'll learn (at the company's expense) and I don't have to deal with that CIO anymore. Everybody gets what they deserve.

    Need a telecom manager in the IE? Try me.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Working at a wireless telco that used to use Nortel for its SGSN/GGSN (passports), they swapped them out when Nortel wouldn't give kick backs to the *IO's.. Ericcson, Lucent came in swapped all the hardware out. Cost the company millions. One director was given a VP job at Ericcson for the hardware swap out of the BSC's from Nokia. Amazing how much criminal stuff goes on in big companies to get people to switch vendors, even when it costs and worse quality....
  • Go Figure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mutatis Mutandis ( 921530 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:56PM (#19229427)

    Well, as the unfortunate user of a new Nortel telephone system (a choice in which I had no say whatsoever) I can only say that 'customer oriented' is not a term I would associate with Nortel. Not remotely so.

    I found both the telephone hardware and the PBX voice interface quite poorly designed. Perhaps it is pretty on the IT integration end, I can't judge that; and the sound quality is good. But whoever designed it forgot to consider human factor. Too many superfluous (and blinking) messages on the display, too long button sequences, an unfriendly and laborious voice mail system, and generally an too complicated interface. Lots of features, but poorly tuned to actual user needs. I think that I am quite good at figuring out how things work, but this telephone system had me seriously puzzled, and the 90-odd page manual wasn't even up to date. I have known lock-in amplifiers that were far more intuitive and easier to use...

    If Nortel gets in a panic about the competition getting some publicity, the most logical explanation is that they are all too aware of the weaknesses of their own systems. It shouldn't be too hard for a good competitor to take a substantial market share.

    • Good fucking god. I want our old Nortel system back. At least then you didn't have to press 3-digit sequences for common functions.
      And apparently no one in our corporate telecom office could figure out the email/voicemail integration or the web management interface. It's in a state of "hey I can see LDAP" but doesn't actually do shit. Very irritating.
  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @07:17PM (#19229661) Homepage Journal
    Nortel may or may not have strong-armed Fonality. The Fonality guy, Chris, said that Blade's Vikram Mehta (sounds Indian, is he?) tried to strong-arm Fonality and Fonality reminded Blade about the contract that was signed about using their system.

    When the author of the blog called Vikram, this guy basically admitted to nothing:

    We spoke a little more, but as you can tell, I was getting nowhere with Vikram. However what "wasn't said" spoke volumes -- both from his demeanor and his avoiding answering my questions, in my mind confirmed what Chris said was accurate. I then contacted Nortel to get their perspective. I spoke with a Nortel employee who wishes to remain anonymous. He stated that Eric Schoch, the Nortel board member was travelling and therefore wasn't able to get him to respond. - so the author has believed what Fonality was saying but couldn't really get Blade to confirm this. The author has got a 'gut feeling' that Chris from Fonality was telling the truth and that Vikram from Blade didn't.

    Then the author called Nortel:

    The employee did however admit that he was aware that Eric sent Vikram (CEO of Blade) a note about the Fonality press release where it simply stated "I would appreciate seeing copies of any news releases that have our name 'Nortel' in it before they go out." The Nortel official explained, "Anything that uses our trademark name we like to take a look at it." The employee added that he was not aware of any pressure applied by Nortel to have Blade reverse their decision on selecting Fonality or forcing a retraction. - so this is the best that we have here and yet the /. story yells out: "Nortel Strong-Arms Open Source Vendor".

    Oh, don't forget that the author then brings up the fact that Nortel is loosing market share. Well, duh.

    This whole thing may or may not be true actually.
  • by KodaK ( 5477 ) <> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @07:30PM (#19229835) Homepage
    Yes, PBXtra is based on Asterisk, but it is a licensed closed-source derivative of the Asterisk code.

    You can not have the source for PBXtra. They'll give you the Asterisk code before they apply their patches, but they won't give you the source for their interface or their changes.

    They might if you buy their product --I don't know, I've never bought it, but you are certainly not allowed to distribute the product to someone else after you buy it.

    Just sayin'.

    Anyway, Trixbox is FOSS. But PBXtra -- no.
    • Never heard of either till now, but isn't taking GPL code, adding patches and then distributing a binary without the availability of source code a GPL violation?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by KodaK ( 5477 )
        Usually, yes. But in this particular case, no. Digium releases Asterisk in a dual license, one is the GPL and the other is a more restrictive commercial license.

        I believe (but don't know for sure and I don't feel like researching it right now) that Fonality has a special license with Digium for Asterisk. This is not unheard of.

        In order for any patch to be included in the GPL Asterisk the author must assign their copyright to Digium, which allows them to do the whole dual license thing.

        This is one of the
  • Retraction? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Rixel ( 131146 )
    "have Fonality print a retraction to the blog article (and the subsequent press release)."

    Nortel wants some other company to do a restatement?

    That's rich. :)
  • In front of almost all the people working in the i.t.

    talk about what goes around, comes around, karma and stuff like that.

    they should have stomached the annoyance rather than getting shamed like this in /.
  • by Necroman ( 61604 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:59PM (#19230679)
    My office (of 50 people) has been using Cisco phones for 4 years now, and they have been wonderful to us. Well, corporate (9000 people) decided that we are going to move to a full Nortel phone system. As the phones were being installed, we started complaining how much the new system sucks (our old phones were so much better). Well, the Nortel contractors that were installing our phones come over to us and proceeds to tell us how almost every single company they have helped move from Cisco to Nortel phones does nothing but complain how bad the Nortel system is.

    Screw you Nortel, learn to make some phones that don't suck.
  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @09:13PM (#19230785) Homepage
    Having witnessed a huge chunk of my city's IT population get sloppily downsized by Nortel years ago, seeing them pull this sort of cry-baby move makes me wonder if the company is on the verge of extinction. So they lost one client to a competitor, who probably offered a better fit for price and features than Nortel's big archaic systems. The fact that this client was a former subsidiary of Nortel does not give the latter a license to publicly ream their former partners in a fit of jealousy. Sure, it's a big hit against the company's image, underlining the fact that Nortel hasn't been a leader in a very long time. Where I live, the word Nortel is a synonym for fraud, failure. They fucked over their staff, they fucked over their shareholders, and now they're trying to fuck over their own offspring. It's as though they want to make sure everyone knows they can't compete anymore.

    Well, thanks for the warning. Oh, and SUE ME!
  • by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @09:28PM (#19230879) Homepage

    All you proprietary PBX vendors out there: Be very afraid. Asterisk is quirky, has a crappy configuration language and seven bazillion configuration files.

    And it's still better than all of your proprietary products.

    We switched to Asterisk about a year ago and haven't looked back. It integrates seamlessly with our CRM system, our trouble-ticketing system, etc., etc. It's amazingly liberating to be in control of your own PBX.

  • Not Shocking At All (Score:4, Interesting)

    by baptiste ( 256004 ) <`su.etsitpab' `ta' `ekim'> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @09:37PM (#19230961) Homepage Journal
    I worked for NORTEL's R&D Labs (formerly Bell Northern Research) back in the mid/late 90s and they did this kind of stuff all the time. Our R&D Network was heavily overloaded at the time and we needed to get 100Mbps switched to the desktop badly. So the network guys speced out a kick butt system from Fore - ATM backbone with fiber to the edge switches and 100Mbps to the desktops. Spent a ton of money on it and it worked great. We also were in the initial middle of our first 802.11 deployment at the time. They installed a bunch of Aironet's access points which worked very well as wireless laptops became more prevalent.

    NORTEL bought Bay Networks that year - most of the new network infrastructure was barely a year old. And all of it was ripped out and replaced with Bay Networks gear in short order. The worst part was the gear they replaced it with wasn't up to the Fore level for the backbone - that took another year or two as I recall for the Bay stuff to equal it.

    I can see the PR argument for it I guess, but geez, what a colossal waste of money. I can see migrating to your own stuff as part of the refresh cycle, but why waste so much money just to avoid having to explain that 'yes, we have a competitors network installed prior to the buyout and it helps our engineers compare our products to the competition' or something.

    • by grcumb ( 781340 )

      NORTEL bought Bay Networks that year - most of the new network infrastructure was barely a year old. And all of it was ripped out and replaced with Bay Networks gear in short order. The worst part was the gear they replaced it with wasn't up to the Fore level for the backbone - that took another year or two as I recall for the Bay stuff to equal it.

      Ah, the wisdom of Nortel. Those were heady days. 8^)

      This was hardly the worst part of the Bay Networks acquisition (at the time, one of the largest corporate

  • This little incident is proof that in so many businesses (e.g. big corporations), the ultimate decision making authorities do not use valid reasons for things like which product to purchase.

  • Wow! What just happened here? A company wanted to return a system which was not yet installed (for whatever be their reasons) and the Fonality guys basically blackmailed the Blade CEO that if he tried to return it they would use the press to make them look bad. Do you really think any company will ever again do business with Fonality? CEOs of customer companies dont like being given 60 sec ultimatums. The Fonality guys might have thought just because its an Indian CEO its Okay to browbeat him but boy was he
    • This isn't an unopened DVD still in the shrinkwrap, this is a PBX system that they had already purchased but hadn't actually rolled out yet. You can't just return something like this unless it is for a reason covered in the contract or warranty. Now you certainly CAN make the case that Fonality should have graciously accepted the gear back. MOST OF THE TIME, it's good policy to bend over backwards for your customers, but there are some people that will screw you if you let them. The value of the contract i
      • Your second paragraph speaks volumes. It certainly has the "appearance" of unseemliness. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
  • Fonality uses a modified Asterisk kernel. They are not open source. Their system is as proprietary as Nortel's.
  • The Nortel BCM50 PBX is also based on Linux .... except they don't supply the source with the system.

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