Cisco, others form converged network group

Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp., IBM Corp. and other companies will push converged voice, video and data networks through a newly formed marketing organization, the new group announced Tuesday.

The Enterprise Communications Association (ECA) brings together product vendors, service providers and sales channel partners that want to promote converged networks in enterprises of all sizes, according to a statement released by the group Tuesday. It aims to educate potential customers about converged network technologies and help the industry develop effective sales and service strategies.

Converged networks can carry voice and video as well as data over packet networks. They can simplify an organization’s IT management, save money by eliminating multiple networks and allow for new kinds of applications, according to proponents of the technology.

Many potential customers are frustrated by a market made up of vendors that specialize in one piece of a converged network rather than offer a single source for everything, according to ECA. The group aims to foster communication among members and the creation of better delivery models for the technology.

Other large founding members of the ECA include network equipment vendor Siemens Information and Communication Networks Inc. and IT distributor Ingram Micro Corp. Microsoft Corp., which some industry analysts expect to play a growing role in multimedia communications in the coming years, was not listed as a founding member. Neither were telecommunication-gear makers Lucent Technologies Inc. or Nortel Networks Corp.

The announcement came on the eve of the Cisco Innovation Through Convergence Expo, being held Wednesday and Thursday in Santa Clara, Calif. The event will showcase converged network offerings from Cisco and its partners.