Avaya Gets "Smart"
By Kelly M. Teal
Avaya Inc. is expandingits leading market presence by getting into the software and Web services arenas, and partnering with more than 140 companies, including systems integrators, alliance partners, consultants, and independent hardware and software firms that are supporting the company's interoperable, multivendor approach to socalled Intelligent Communications.
The manufacturer defines Intelligent communications as giving users the ability to be linked to the right person, at the right time, by the right medium - voice, text and video - over any network.
In its quest to touch new ground, Avaya has made an agreement with Juniper Networks Inc. for each company to resell the other's products and services. The deal lets Avaya capitalize on Juniper's security and routing strengths without revamping its own programs. The initiative encompasses program management, remote network management and managed services, although executives clarified during a conference call in early May that while the company increasingly is involved in networks, they do not regard entering the arena of hosted offerings, such as contact centers, as license to go into CRM installation and maintenance. Instead, Avaya would partner to bring users those capabilities, company executives said.
Meanwhile, Avaya also is working with AT&T Corp., Extreme Networks, HP and Polycom Inc. to develop communications solutions, and offer expertise to systems integrators and other partners.
Avaya executives add they are looking to Web services and service-oriented architecture to integrate applications with communications. This means they are working to redefine business communications by introducing new applications and hardware. Part of that push includes the third version of Communications Manager, Avaya's IP PBX, which will be sold through partners such as Voda One. The latest edition provides several new features, including network survivability in case of a power failure. It also supports open software development, as well as new telephones and SIP endpoints.
In tandem with new Communications Manager changes, Avaya further is introducing the G150 and G250 media gateways, part of its new Avaya Branch Connect Solutions. The devices work with Communications Manager; the G250 targets small branch offices seeking enterprise-level communications capabilities.
Avaya discussed several other aspects of its business plan in the conference call. The company is launching conferencing services thanks to its acquisition last year of Spectel. It also is developing software such as a SIPenabled virtual personal assistant that will allow workers to choose how they want to be reached, whether through voice, instant message, e-mail and so on. Users also will be able to filter who can reach them and when. Avaya also intends to enable expanded call-center agent support by giving customers a "click-to-talk" button online that lets them reach a live call center employee. The agent, in turn, will receive information about products the customer has viewed online or purchased.
"As the industry evolves, so do we need to evolve," said Don Peterson, chairman and CEO of Avaya.
Avaya's new G250 Media Gateway offers branch offices enterprise-level IP communications.
Avaya Inc. www.avaya.com
Extreme Networks www.extremenetworks.com
Juniper Networks Inc. www.juniper.net
Polycom Inc. www.polycom.com
Voda One www.vodaone.com