As I wrote about in my post More details on Office Communicator 2007 Microsoft is planning to offer their Hosted Messaging and Collaboration solution in a version that includes OCS and offers possibilities for Hosters/SP's to provide VoIP and PSTN break-out services through OCS and third-party gateways.
Nortel and Microsoft has now released more information on the offerings it are going to provide as part of their Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA) -
Nortel and Microsoft’s alliance will allow carriers to host unified business communication and collaboration services for their business customers, including e-mail, instant messaging, VoIP, click-to-call, video conferencing and other multimedia services. This will enable carriers to derive greater value from their existing network investments and resources, while allowing SMBs and enterprises to benefit from unified communications without bearing the burden of purchasing, installing and managing additional network infrastructure.
Building on their existing Innovative Communications Alliance, Nortel will integrate its Communication Server 2000 (CS 2000) softswitch with the Microsoft® Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, which incorporates hosted versions of Microsoft’s familiar, world-class enterprise products Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server and Windows® SharePoint® Services.
Look for more details at Nortel and Microsoft to Deliver Carrier-Hosted Unified Communications and in CIO India that quotes from the presentation that -
"First, you'll get smart unified clients," which ties together Microsoft messaging, Nortel softphone and hardphone technology. "After that, we'll deliver transformed backend. "Over the next two to three years, Ballmer said, customers of Nortel and Microsoft "can expect to go from a separate, PBX and separate server software [environments], to one where [OCS] ... and Nortel [VOIP] servers deliver the full telephony experience, with both platforms running on standard Intel architecture with common Windows software, development and management tools."
and Network World in the article Nortel, Microsoft lay ground for hosted services says ...
... the initiative has been expanded toward service providers, allowing the carriers to provide a richer equivalent of the Centrex services that small and midsize businesses often use instead of buying their own phone switch. By crafting systems for carriers, the alliance for the first time is going after the market Nortel traditionally knows best.
Really interesting news for many of my customers ;-)