Avaya Inc. and Skype Inc. have forged a strategic agreement wherein they will use each others IP communications capabilities to provide greater collaboration capabilities to businesses at a lower cost.
The two-phase agreement first calls for Avaya to integrate Skype Connect with its IP solutions. In the second half of 2011, the companies will integrate UC and collaboration solutions so their respective customers can interact with each other in a common user experience.
In phase one, Avaya will offer integration of Skype Connect, which was released commercially Aug. 30 after beta testing under the name Skype for SIP. Skype Connect works directly with IP PBXs to provide IP communications at lower costs. Users of with Avaya Aura Session Manager or Avaya Aura SIP Enablement Server, CS1000, Avaya IP Office or BCM systems will be able to use Skype Connect to initiate lower-cost, SIP-based calls rather than standard PBX calls, which usually go out over the PSTN.
With the combined technologies, Skype users can make inbound calls to Avaya customers in the U.S. market for free or at a low cost. Those calls will be handled just like a traditional toll call by Avayas UC technologies, including conferencing, messaging, mobility and contact center. Using the combined technologies, users can establish Skype Click & Call buttons for inbound calling from websites, establish Skype Online Numbers for inbound calling from landline and mobile phones, and route inbound calls from Skype users to enterprise extensions.
Deb Kline, a spokesperson for Avaya, said Avayas channel partners will be able to offer Skype Connect as an alternative connectivity option to their customers and help configure their Avaya systems to take advantage of it. It’s about extending customer service with a broader range of options,” she said.
Kline said the advantage of this integration for businesses is voice access to the global Skype community with greater security, enterprise-level features (such as recording, monitoring) and manageability,” and enabling Skype users to contact a U.S.-based business and still have their calls treated with enterprise routing, contact center, messaging, etc.”
In the second phase of the agreement, slated for the second half of 2011, Avaya and Skype are planning integrated UC and collaboration solutions for U.S. enterprises, so Avaya and Skype users can interact via presence, IM, voice and video via federation Avaya Aura and Skype communications platforms. A user, for example, could call a contact center via Skype to resolve a customer service issue, which would save money on the inbound call. Using the Avaya technology, department managers also could manage how those calls are routed to and handled by contact center employees.
Avaya and Skype have been working along parallel paths to offer innovative, scalable, low-cost SIP-based communications to our respective markets,” said Alan Baratz, senior vice president, Avaya and president, Avaya Global Communications Solutions, in a statement announcing the agreement. Now the two companies will work together, striving to improve collaboration and customer service by federating Avaya and Skype solutions for a common user experience that delivers unique benefits for businesses and their customers who are Skype users.”
Kline noted that Avayas interest in working with Skype has been part of the companys strategic conversations for a few years as the Skype consumer user community grew. When they established their Skype Enterprise division in January, that demonstrated a firm commitment to the enterprise business and the relationship proceeded from there,” she said.