Avaya Inc.’s 2009 takeover of telecom stalwart Nortel’s enterprise division is coming to fruition in the form of integrated products. On Tuesday, Avaya made a big show of that achievement in New York, with festivities including a speech from TV’s “Cake Boss" star Buddy Valastro. But, for channel partners, the real news was that Avaya is releasing a new IP office product that supports companies that, once upon a time, invested thousands of dollars in Nortel’s Business Communications Manager (BCM) and Norstar platforms.
IP Office 7.0 targets small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It contains the same features as previous IP Office iterations – think conference and collaboration, call-center reporting, automatic failover – and some new twists. The changes will especially appeal to current Avaya and former Nortel partners, because IP Office 7.0 was built for compatibility with legacy Nortel customer premise equipment. There even is a data migration tool that ports information such as phone numbers, voice mail, email contacts, and more, from the old systems into IP Office 7.0. This means end-users don’t have to re-enter information into a new system. Channel partners are able to do the porting in about 30 minutes, said Joe Scotto, director of Avaya’s SMB division. The best part is the sheer opportunity awaiting Avaya dealers and resellers – there are about 14 million users worldwide still running the old Nortel systems, Avaya said.
IP Office contains other upgrades as well. There are more IP desktop phones from which to choose, from high-end models to lower-end ones. The high-end versions have color touchscreens, and the new conference-room phones have wide-band audio, SD card call-recording and USB connectivity to laptops. Further, there’s a plug-in just for the health care market; functionality includes appointment reminders and more. Plus, Avaya is working on mobile and cloud capabilities for IP Office 7.0.
Avaya will sell IP Office 7.0 through its channel partners, as well as through service providers including Bell Canada and Verizon Communications Inc. And, to help lure more SMEs to IP Office 7.0, Avaya on Tuesday launched a contest. The company is asking small and medium businesses to describe their ideas for innovating how they serve customers – the grand prize is a new installation of IP Office and its related products. Meantime, Avaya channel partners can expect to earn an up-front margin on IP Office 7.0 sales. Avaya didn’t disclose the percentages but did say the up-front method applies even when end-users take advantage of monthly financing.
In late 2009, Avaya won Nortel’s enterprise group at auction. Nortel went bankrupt in January 2009 and spent the following months selling its assets to the highest bidders in efforts to repay creditors. Avaya went up against rivals including Siemens for Nortel’s enterprise unit.