In the six months since Bell Canada bought Infostream Technologies Inc., Isabelle Courville’s team has been busy working on a storage-area networking service that combines the expertise of both companies.
Courville, president of Bell Canada’s enterprise group, is tight-lipped about the specifics
of the SAN offering, which is currently undergoing customer trials and scheduled for final release next year.
She will only say it combines Bell’s history in telecommunications with the storage experience of staff at Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Infostream.
Solution providers will be interested to note that Infostream, which provides storage, voice over IP and other networking integration services, still carries its own brand.
“”We’re trying to respect the separate business models, but at the same time, we’re trying to work together better,”” Courville said.
She added that thanks to Bell’s national sales force and its contacts in large organizations, it has been able to ink much larger deals than before.
Took over group
Courville, who has worked on and off at Bell since the early 1980s, took over the enterprise group when it was formed in June, 2003.
Before that, she was president and CEO of Bell Nordiq Group Inc., a carrier that serves northern Ontario and Quebec and was formed from the merger of Telebec and NorthernTel in 2001.
As president of the enterprise group, one of her main focus areas is developing products that use the network to make customers more competitive. Last June, for example, Bell launched its Managed Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony service, which includes point-to-point video, find-me-follow-me and instant messaging services. As of October, Bell Canada customers were using a combined total of 100,000 IP voice lines.
Solutions for brokerages
The enterprise group also offers the Institutional Trade Management Solutions (ITMS), which lets large investors and brokerages connect their stock and bond trading systems over an IP network. ITMS is touted as a service that will allow up to 5,000 trades per second to be executed electronically.
Other applications driving demand for IP networks are call centre and customer relationship management. To take advantage of that opportunity, Bell Canada acquired a majority interest last April in Montreal-based Elix, a professional services firm that installs IP telephony, speech, interactive voice response, computer telephony integration and workforce management technologies. The company has joined Courville’s group to add to its corporate offerings.
“”What we’re seeing more and more is customers need an integrated management of all the infrastructure aspects of their call centre, so beyond selecting the people and managing the people, they want all the rest to be taken care of by trusted providers,”” she said.
“”They want to have their call centre performing at the best possible level and they need external help to get to that level.””
The carrier also acquired Charon Systems Inc. this year, a professional services firm whose offerings include server-based computing, design of local and wide-area networks, security and monitoring. However, it was moved into Bell’s small and medium business group.
With these deals, Bell is getting into the same space as some systems integrators. But the approach, Courville said, is generally different.
“”The SI will come at it in a very customized way, often looking at the issue of a customers building specific solutions that are highly customized,”” she said. “”We come at it with our telco background, which is very product-based, so we will go at things . . . that use a lot of networks — we call it more business networking solutions.””
Bell Canada’s enterprise unit is evolving from a telecommunications firm to an information and communications technologies (ICT) firm, she said.
“”With SIs moving into connectivity and telcos moving into IT, we’re just more players in the same overall marketplace,”” she said.
“”There’s still a lot of differentiation because of our background. With Bell Enterprise, we would look at what customer needs are multi-site issues, productivity needs and involve in any way, shape or form the use of a network.””