Services will include unified communications, voice, wireless, IP contact and security
Cisco Systems Inc. and Bell Canada International Inc. on Monday said they will develop and deliver a range of IP-based managed services to Canadian businesses, including unified communications, voice, wireless, IP contact and security.
The move towards managed services builds on the companies' commitment to provide customers with IP technologies and services "without the need for on-site support or intensive capital investment," said Terry Walsh, president and CEO of Cisco.
"Integrated dial-up voice and video networks have come of age, and the productivity benefits of these technologies to businesses large and small have become very significant," he added.
According to Boston-based research firm Ovum Inc., the managed-services market in Canada will grow more than 60% in the next two years, from $1.2 billion to $1.95 billion in 2009.
Bell and Cisco also announced the creation of two knowledge centers, in Toronto and Montreal, to train and nurture the "next generation of IT engineers, managers and leaders." The knowledge centers will focus on skills certification on Cisco technology.
It's a "brick-and-mortar investment" that should help close the IT skills divide plaguing the Canadian technology industry, said Stephane Boisvert, president of the enterprise group at Bell Canada.
In January, the two companies also announced the formation of the Canadian Coalition for IT Succession to address the economic effects of IT skills shortages.
The centers will open in the second and third quarters of 2008, possibly with future plans for centers in Ottawa and Quebec City.
Joint customers of the two firms include Concordia University, which recently became the first academic institution in Canada to deploy an 802.11n network. That project was an effort to expand the school's campuswide wireless network to meet the mobility needs of the community, said President Michael DiGrappa.
The network is part of a "larger, innovative indoor/outdoor wireless mobility infrastructure" designed to help meet the needs of 44,000 students and 3,000 faculty members and staffers, he said. DiGrappa described the rollout this past winter as a "daunting task."
The 802.11n wireless technology, part of Cisco's Unified Wireless Network, should provide improved reliability and faster throughput for existing 802.11g implementations.
The move is designed to better allow the university to maintain a link with students and faculty in light of increased demands for innovative technologies, in particular as technological innovation has led to new ways to teach, said DiGrappa. "It amounts to an ongoing technological evolution," he said.
The past decade has seen a rapid growth in the student population at Concordia, which in turn led to a rapid expansion of the network and a "surge in connectivity needs," according to DiGrappa. The university had responded by working with Bell Canada and Cisco to deploy Cisco IP phones. It later moved to VoIP, which DiGrappa said is now "a reality of campus life and is providing a platform to continue to add new and exciting features."
"Education isn't what it used to be. ... It's a very fluid environment," said Andrew McAusland, associate vice president of instruction and IT services at Concordia. He added that VoIP has allowed the university to add an increasing number of services to its annually changing client base of 12,000 new students.