×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Nortel Strong-Arms Open Source Vendor Fonality

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the can't-be-better-than-ours dept.

Businesses 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)."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

143 comments

excellent plan (5, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228555)

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.

The guy didn't follow the PR policy (5, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228717)

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.

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228795)

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.

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229093)

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?

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229209)

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.

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229335)

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.

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229387)

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.

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#19230505)

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.

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229547)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If the name "Clarus" means nothing to you, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real [imageshack.us] Mac [imageshack.us] users [imageshack.us]. Keep your filthy, beige [imageshack.us] PC fingers to yourself.

Ramblings (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229621)

What the hell are you rambling about? I have never had to make this statement about a mac fanatic before. But someone needs to find a cork for you, it seems your butt is leaking and all sorts of crap is spewing out.

Anyone in business knows... (1)

msimm (580077) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229549)

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.

*shrug*

It's usually best to keep your opinions on your companies short comings to yourself or in a more productive setting.

It's not their own product. (2, Informative)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229777)

It's the product of someone who used to own them. And apparently still has some influnce.

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (1)

Minupla (62455) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228799)

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.

Min

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (2, Insightful)

huckda (398277) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229111)

WRONG:

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.

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228809)

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.

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229605)

They said "former subsidiary" a couple times, but they seem to be beholden to Nortel in some organizational fashion

I didn't research, but it seems reasonable to assume Nortel retains a large financial stake (if not wholely owned) in the subsidiary. There are several reasons for this, but if so, its not unreasonable for Nortel to have a say in how the money is spent (I've seen several spinoffs crushed under this sort of tie when the parent effectively extorts all its money back in the form of required service contracts etc. See Iridium & Motorola for one).

Of course, if thats the case, seems the CxO's should have cut this project off earlier. Maybe they thought they could sneak it through to save money (Phone systems are ALWAYS major in anything below a Fortune 100, every CxO would have known).

BTW, this does not make Nortel evil, and this has little to do w/ open source. I'm sure they would have the same reaction had they installed an Avaya PBX in a former Nortel subsidiary (except Avaya may have paid for the plug in free hardware). Its all part of the Mantra "TNSTAAFL"

Re:The guy didn't follow the PR policy (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229497)

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.

Ya You Betcha (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228743)

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?

And, even more crucially (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228811)

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:And, even more crucially (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229323)

Maybe he can buy you a dictionary so you can learn the difference between ITS and IT IS?

Re:And, even more crucially (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229801)

Or maybe buy you some balls so you have the courage to put your name to what you write.

 

Re:And, even more crucially (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19230043)

Does it matter? Honestly, I'm more interested in the substance of what is being said, not the name of the person saying it. Now, a well-known person's name can lend credibility, if I can verify that the name is actually the person who I think it is.

However, Colin Smith is just another Joe Sixpack to me. I could care less about him. Colin Smith is not even the kind of name that would lend me to finding out exactly who you are. You're hiding behind the commonality of the name. Maybe you just needed an excuse to talk about your genitals?

Re:And, even more crucially (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19230299)

Don't you mean ball's?

-Joe Black

Re:excellent plan (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229419)

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!

-jcr

Re:excellent plan (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 6 years ago | (#19231267)

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

Three thumbs up!

Noone insults the family. (0)

pickyouupatnine (901260) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228559)

Noone -.-

Re:Noone insults the family. (1)

YourMotherCalled (888364) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229075)

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?

Re:Noone insults the family. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229299)

Just a friendly reminder: "No one" is two words, even though they are frequently slurred together when spoken.

I wonder... (-1, Flamebait)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228565)

So, do any of you Libertarians who put such high faith in the free market's invisible hand have any comments on this?

Re:I wonder... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228719)

Just out of curiosity, do you think the government forcing them to use something in the first place would be better? Nobody thinks Free Market is perfect because people are not perfect. It is just the best way to consistently take advantage of peoples imperfections and greed. Until you find a way for everyone in the world to be nice then this is what we have.

Re:I wonder... (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228731)

So, do any of you Libertarians who put such high faith in the free market's invisible hand have any comments on this?

You might note that tens of thousands of nerds reading slashdot are going to find out about this today, and that the story will likely be picked up by an actual news outlet (as opposed to aggregator and discussion board, as is slashdot) soon enough, making Nortel look like precisely the big dipshits they are.

I don't actually know anyone who takes Nortel seriously any more anyway, though. I think the invisible hand of the free market is already giving Nortel what they so richly deserved, if their market share is continuing to drop at a rate similar to that of the three quarters beginning in '04 that cost them 8% not of their share, but of the market.

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229087)

Kind of like the mighty hand of the nerd vote. The power of the blog did wonders in '04. Oh, wait... it didn't

Re:I wonder... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229939)

Kind of like the mighty hand of the nerd vote. The power of the blog did wonders in '04. Oh, wait... it didn't.

Don't know if you've noticed, but nerds tend to have a lot more influence over phone systems than they do over Presidential elections. Funny thing, that.

Next thing we know, people'll be claiming that civil engineers have purchasing influence in the CAD/drafting industry, or that physicians influence prescription drugs.

Re:I wonder... (1)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 6 years ago | (#19230289)

My point was that nerds seems to have an over inflated sense of influence. It doesn't matter what the subject. Case in point - the idiots that jerked themselves into a frenzy thinking they were going to influence the outcome of American Idol. They might have a small effect here and there but be it elections, TV shows or corporate purchases of phone systems, the typical idiot that posts on Slashdot has little influence. Think Linux. Other than were it has been for the last 10 years, were has it advanced? Beyond the embedded and server market - nowhere. Yet, peruse Slashdot and you'd think that come next Monday, Microsoft will fold and Linux will rule the world.

Re:I wonder... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 6 years ago | (#19230945)

Maybe, but we're not talking about whether Microsoft rules the world. We're talking about whether Asterisk wins over Nortel.

You talk about Linux winning only in the server and embedded markets; PBXes are effectively an intersection of the two. Or, to take a different argument: While the VoIP geek crowd may be comparatively small portion of the slashdot crowd, slashdot readership makes up a great deal of the VoIP geek crowd. More to the point, CEOs tend to listed to VoIP geeks when we tell them we can build them a vastly more flexible phone system for 1/4 of what they'd spend on a big-budget vendor -- mine did.

No doubt, a great deal of the online community overestimates their influence -- but OSS-centric VoIP geeks (who are the folks with the really excellent value proposition behind them these days, and thus the ability to make an outstanding business case) are a remarkably poor example to pick when trying to make that point.

Re:I wonder... (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228863)

well, i see a company doing the wrong thing and being called out for it, all without government interferance.

save the political BS for something relevant.

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229119)

What would require a comment, exactly?

Certainly, owners of property (Nortel owns a huge stake in Blade Network Technologies) can do stupid things. Doing so will bite them in the ass. That's how the "invisible hand" works -- reaction, not preemptive mind control.

Obviously, often the losses from stupid decisions aren't sufficient to prompt a correction; the Invisible Hand isn't infallible. But the problem is that non-market interventions in the economy are even more insulated from the consequences of failure.

Trying to fix market failures with regulation is the equivalent of noting that your house is flammable, and accordingly flooding the house with three feet of water. After your electronics short circuit due to the water, you then increase the water to six feet because of the fire hazard of short-circuiting electronics. Then, when anyone points out the water is making it hard to actually live in the house, you attack them as being pro-fire.

Re:I wonder... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229477)

The market's hand is quite visible in this case, and the results speak for themselves. Did a government agency step in and punish Nortel for this? No, it was many privately owned web sites (eg, slashdot) that did so.

-jcr

First rule of good development: (2, Interesting)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228569)

Eat your own dogfood.

Re:First rule of good development: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229117)

Hopefully Chinese farmers will, so they'll die like my two dogs did from their food.

Twisted "In Soviet Russia..."? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229811)

Hopefully Chinese farmers will, so they'll die like my two dogs did from their food.
Is this a new take on the "In Soviet Russia" meme? Usually dogs die because the chinese use them as food. "In Maoist China, dogs eat chinese."

Um, I'll take The Rapists for $200 Alex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19228631)

didn't RTFA, but how in the world can a company "force" you to return some other company's gear? I choose (d) Nortel a whimp they could push around.

Re:Um, I'll take The Rapists for $200 Alex (3, Informative)

mkettler (6309) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229659)

Well, from TFA, Nortel is still holdes a minority interest in Blade (the "forced" company). Also, one of Nortel's VP's sits on Blade's board of directors.

Ownership and having control of a board memeber is an amazingly effective way to apply pressure to a company.

So while the slashdot article summary refers to Blade as a "former subsidiary", it fails to outline that Nortel does still has significant direct control over Blade.

Why isn't this tortuous interference? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228679)

Just curious.

Why would it be? (3, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 [bladenetwork.net], 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.

Rather one sided. (1)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228685)

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 Chris, "How long have they had PBXtra for?"
Incredulously, Chris responds, "They haven't even installed it yet. It's still in the box."


So, if it is not even installed yet, how do they know it is easier to use?

Re:Rather one sided. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19228821)

I don't know about you, but before I make a significant infrastructure purchase, and especially one that's critical to my business operations, I always try the product first or at least receive a demo.

Re:Rather one sided. (2, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228869)

Almost certainly Blade had a demo unit before they bought it. That's common practice.

From trying it? (2, Insightful)

Generic Player (1014797) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229055)

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.

The article/blog is incorrect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229357)

The makeup of Nortel's BoD is public information. The person in questions is not a "Nortel board member." He is a Nortel employee who also sits on the board of Blade Network Technologies. His position within Nortel is as a mid-level marketing manager (or at least, was).

Re:Rather one sided. (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#19230261)

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.

Confusing Summary (4, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228687)

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.

It is not a summary. (1)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 6 years ago | (#19228753)

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.

Re:Confusing Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229859)

I read comments here for posts like this. Thanks! :p

Re:Confusing Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19230757)

D) FARK!

The option no one pays attention to (5, Insightful)

hateful monkey (1081671) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

The font goggles, they do nothing (0, Offtopic)

Richard McBeef (1092673) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229121)

That is one terrible font. I kind of want to gouge my eyeballs out after reading that.

Re:The font goggles, they do nothing (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229219)

So the font goggles are actually useful after all since they keep you from gouging out your eyes?

misleading article title (4, Insightful)

chdig (1050302) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:misleading article title (2, Insightful)

roderickm (6912) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229389)

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 point, Keating even linked to his previous interview [tmcnet.com] quoting Lyman as saying, "Trixbox is a free open source community - largely international. Fonality is a commercial paid product, largely domestic. We couldn't be farther apart in communities, interest, or financial objectives. I guess our only real common ground is a usage and love of Asterisk."

Re:misleading article title (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229743)

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?

Bad publicity === publicity (5, Insightful)

el_flynn (1279) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229265)

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?

Who should I call? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229295)

In June or July, I had planned to have a new Nortel system installed. Now I'm very interested in what's going on here. I would like to get some answers regarding this issue before I commit to buy and install.

Running Scared (2, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Master Stallman.. (1)

biscon (942763) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229593)

the force is especially strong with this one!

pbxtra rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229343)

I work for a fonality dealer http://www.a1firesec.com/ [a1firesec.com] and have worked on nortel systems before. PBXtra absolutely stomps all over anything nortel has, even with symposium. This is a pretty stupid thing to do since it gives fonality a huge amount of free publicity.

Beautiful (4, Interesting)

obtuse (79208) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229407)

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.

Go Figure (3, Insightful)

Mutatis Mutandis (921530) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Siemens HiPath (XP) is worse. (1)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | more than 6 years ago | (#19231023)

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.

Bahahahahaaaa!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229455)

I can just imagine a bunch of OSS fags whine'n on their little gay boy blogs that they got their new VOIP toy taken away! Bahahahahahahahahhahahahahaha!

Not clear who has done what here (4, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229661)

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.

Fighting for their life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19229803)

Nortel and other telecom suppliers are scared and recognize that widespread Asterisk adoption is pulling an end to their PBX business, DSM-1000s and MSL-100s. A few years ago, I was pricing a PBX for a 30 person company and the Nortel solution was $20k. Then I found Asterisk - 2 old PCs and a 2 Dialogic cards. Bam, instant PBX for just my consulting fee with worldwide SIP extensions for their sales force over a SIP client.

Nortel is afraid and although some of their moves appear ill advised, they don't always see the bonehead move until it is too late.

PBXtra is not Open Source (5, Informative)

KodaK (5477) | more than 6 years ago | (#19229835)

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.

Re:PBXtra is not Open Source (1)

sphantom (795286) | more than 6 years ago | (#19231125)

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:PBXtra is not Open Source (2, Informative)

KodaK (5477) | more than 6 years ago | (#19231237)

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 reasons why OpenPBX forked from Asterisk.

Retraction? (2, Funny)

Rixel (131146) | more than 6 years ago | (#19230137)

"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. :)

And now Nortel is on the zerg fest here in /. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#19230459)

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 /.

uhm, fonality is not open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19230579)

not to defend nortel or anything but lets be honest here, fonality is not an open source company anymore than avaya is. sure, they use asterisk but everything they add is proprietary on top of that (including hud and their GUI).

Nortel phones are not good (4, Interesting)

Necroman (61604) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Is Nortel in end-game mode yet ? (3, Interesting)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#19230785)

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!

Be afraid. Be very afraid. (3, Interesting)

dskoll (99328) | more than 6 years ago | (#19230879)

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 (3, Interesting)

baptiste (256004) | more than 6 years ago | (#19230961)

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.

This little incident is proof ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 6 years ago | (#19231085)

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.

The board (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19231213)

I thought the board job was to do the best for the company and its share holders

????
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...