BT is hoping an alliance with Microsoft will encourage VARs to take advantage of the burgeoning integrated conferencing market.
The two firms will offer a real-time service using BT's audioconferencing offerings and Microsoft's Office Live Meeting. The deal is part of a wider working alliance between the firms.
Mike Berry, head of strategic planning at BT Conferencing, said audioconferencing had not been widely sold by VARs in the past because it did not sit with their core businesses. But he added that he hopes the Microsoft element will change that.
"Live Meeting is a product we have sold for a while as Placeware. Microsoft bought Placeware last year and has made a number of improvements," Berry said. "For channel sales, we must have a reseller version of everything we do, and this will be available immediately."
Rocky Mahajan, general manager of strategy and business development at BT Indirect Channels, said: "Voice is a core part of our business, but ICT is doubling year on year. The only way we can grow our ICT business at this rate is to provide these deals and access."
David Bradshaw, a principal analyst at research firm Ovum, said conferencing is thriving at the moment.
"Margins for traditional voice conferencing are going through the floor, but people are trying to defend margins by putting in web-based co-operation elements," he said. "This is basically integrated conferencing, but without the video element."
Berry said audioconferencing dominates videoconferencing at BT "by 1,000 to one" at present, but he was enthusiastic about the technology's prospects.
Wainhouse Research has reported impressive growth for the sector this year, as vendors bring out cheaper and more IP-centric products.
The deal is part of a continuing relationship between the two giants that included a trial of Microsoft's Exchange groupware platform as a hosted service in Scotland earlier this year.
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