When VoIP Projects Retract

Cisco has been perhaps the earliest and strongest backer of VoIP technologies. It has worked hard to make people believe that its IP-Phones are the greatest thing, well the phone. I have seen them at work in controlled environment, and they are pretty cool. But they don’t work all the time, according to this report in the Channel Insider. Actually this is a story from EWeek and is excellent piece of investigative work by reporter Ellen Muraskin.

When IBM Global IT Services announced that it was taking over for Electronic Data Systems on a major IT contract for Dow Chemical, this reporter (and others) heard a faint bell ring, launched searches into their story files and came up with the original 2001 announcement: A $1.4 billion contract over seven years to build and maintain a multinational IP network, DowNet, for 50,000 employees and contractors.

Now this is one big honking project, six times the size of Cisco’s next largest customer,the New Zealand Ministry of Social Policy. Anyway this was the poster child for Cisco.

Early this month, EDS and Dow said they had reached a “mutual agreement” to cancel the contract. On July 28, EDS reported a $135 million pretax termination-related charge for an unnamed client that most industry watchers believed was Dow Chemical.

Bottom line, the project seems to be delayed and if you read the report that Cisco is trying hard to make sure its Call Manager IP telephony system is “da bomb.”

According to a major Cisco systems integrator, Cisco’s John Chambers has been negotiating hard with IBM Global IT services to keep Cisco VOIP equipment front and center for DowNet. “Cisco is standardizing on IBM servers–it’s some leverage,” he notes. He also reports that Cisco’s unified messaging and call center adjunct projects have run up against a lot of integration problems.

Anyway read this story, and my hat tip to Muraskin.