New alliance to deliver last-leg services

According to Lars Goransson, analyst with Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd., no single player has the ability to be everything to every customer. “Ultimately it’s a matter of providing service to the clients and no one has all the pieces,” he said. In an attempt to bring a competitive, ASP vision to market, Calgary, Alta..-based Axia NetMedia Corp. along with Cisco Canada Ltd. and Microsoft Canada have formed an alliance that will focus on delivering last-leg network and application services to enterprise customers looking to leverage their IP networks through managed services.

Axia’s president and CEO, Art Price said the company believes “there is going to be a whole different kind of segmentation in the IP network space,” both at the common carrier level where people aggregate and haul many users’ traffic and at what Axia calls the ‘last leg’ – from the desktop to an alternative competitive common carrier. “Bell doesn’t offer anything different at the network level than AT&T does,” he said.

He added, this would enable a high-performance, competitive environment at the common carrier level for companies whose IP network needs are critical and strategic, and prefer to rent their network solutions.

The companies’ combination of products and services will be aimed at customers in targeted, high-bandwidth environments. Citing Toronto’s BCE Place as a hypothetical example Price said, “If you applied this whole concept to BCE Place, then you would have a big enough community to support the whole concept even though the community might be many small- or medium-sized companies.

“It’s not a geographic model, it’s a market segment model in a major community, high-rise environment where you could offer this service to the whole community…who can’t hire, retain and employ the expertise to run IP networks,” he said. He also included areas of government like health care and education as potential markets for this service.

The alliance will deliver a managed network application delivery service offering access to the full suite of hosted, commercial ASP-licensed, Microsoft Office 2000 applications and, through a capital financing agreement with Cisco Capital Corp., a range of next-generation IP functionality from Cisco and its ecosystem partners, including video conferencing and streaming, voice over IP and unified messaging.

Arthur Yasinski, principle technology specialist for Microsoft Canada in Calgary, Alta. said, “We’re looking to the alliance as a unique opportunity for us to provide tools and technology to support Axia and Cisco…as well as some consulting services and marketing to support…this kind of initiative.”

Cisco Canada’s Western Region manager, enterprise operations, Gilles St.Hilaire said what Axia is concerning itself with is the communications infrastructure, where “most telephone companies, carriers or service providers all meet at one point which is traditionally in metropolitan areas. What Axia is thinking of, is increasing the competitive nature of that business behind that point. Hats off to Axia and that organization for looking at this in a very different light and making it more competitive for the end users.”

To support the rollout, a wholly owned subsidiary of Axia NetMedia – Axia IP Network Ltd. – designs, installs and maintains the IP last-leg networks. “This ends up looking like a physical community solution and Axia IP Networks is going to provide the on-the-ground and operational expertise to run that segment of the network, in that physical location,” said Price.

He added that by offering a high-end, IP-enabled, managed network that is totally versioned and hosted, then “you add Cisco VoIP or video conferencing or other people’s software products on that network and it becomes a sort of hosted, total solution for the end user.”

Goransson concluded that the ASP market still has to address end user issues “particularly around reliability, security and user support – those are the three key issues that have to be overcome in order for this market to explode, and that might well be some time,” he said. “[There are] a number of hurdles but definitely as a concept it’s here to stay and it will definitely change who owns the customer.”

According to Price, Axia is currently in a number of discussions and cannot reveal the rollout of the services, but additional information on the alliance, its partners and its services is available at


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