Avaya and Skype will integrate their communications offerings to enable easier collaboration between Avaya and Skype users via video, voice, IM and presence.
Two weeks after unveiling an aggressive initiative to push into the video
communications realm, Avaya is announcing a partnership with voice-over-IP
The two companies are integrating their IP-based communications
offerings, a move that will widen Avaya's UC (unified communications) efforts
and give Skype, which has a strong user base among consumers and about 400
million users worldwide, another avenue into the business world.
In a conference call with analysts and journalists Sept. 29,
Alan Baratz, Avaya senior vice president and president of Avaya Global
Communications Solutions, said the partnership-a combination of marketing and
technology development-will address business customers' demands for easier ways
to expand their use of Skype in the enterprise.
It responds to requests by businesses "for the ability to
leverage Skype as a first-tier communications vehicle in their
environment," Baratz said.
Avaya on Sept. 15 unveiled its Avaya Flare Experience, a video
communications effort that includes the Avaya
Desktop Video Device,
an Android-based touch-screen tablet that will compete
Systems' Cius offering.
The fruits of the partnership essentially will roll out in two
phases, the first of which, in October, will involve the integration of voice
technologies from the two companies. Avaya's U.S.
customers will get access to Skype Connect, which brings Skype calling
capabilities to IP-based business communications systems, according to Avaya.
The integration is done through a SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)
The second phase, set for the second half of 2011, will bring
integration of Avaya and Skype video and other communications modes, such as
telepresence and instant messaging.
The program will initially target U.S.-based companies-small
and midsize businesses and enterprises-though the offerings could roll out to
other countries later, said David Gurle, general manager and vice president of
The integration will enable Avaya Aura and Skype users to
interact through multiple communications modes, including presence, IM, voice
and video. Eventually, Baratz said, communications between Avaya and Skype
users should be as seamless as Avaya-to-Avaya or Skype-to-Skype calls. Avaya will
also provide management products to enable IT administrators to manage their
Skype environments. However, users will need to get Skype Connect accounts to
take advantage of those technologies.
The partnership comes at a time of rapid change in the industry
as vendors pursue UC strategies through acquisitions and partnerships. Cisco
Systems is making a strong push to enhance its video collaboration
capabilities, with in-house technologies and through its acquisition of
telepresence vendor Tandberg.
Video communications vendor Polycom is partnering with a host
of vendors, including Hewlett-Packard and Siemens Enterprise Communications,
and has hired
former Cisco executives as CEO and CTO.
And Logitech a year ago bought
LifeSize Communications to get a foothold in the video communications field,
while Google in May bought
Global IP Solutions
in what industry observers saw as a move to challenge
Skype in the VOIP market.
Avaya and Skype say the alliance is not exclusive, meaning the
companies can also partner with other vendors. Rumors have been circulating in
the industry about a possible VOIP agreement between Facebook and Skype.
There also has been speculation that Cisco may be interested in
Video will play a major part in the growth of a collaboration
industry that Cisco officials have said could grow to $30 billion, as
businesses look for ways to reduce costs-including expensive travel budgets-and
increase employee productivity.
Given the demand, interoperability will be important. Baratz
and Gurle both said the joint products Avaya and Skype bring to market will
interoperate with UC systems from other vendors, including Cisco, HP,
Microsoft, Polycom and LifeSize.
However, neither Baratz nor Gurle committed their companies to
joining the Unified
Communications Interoperability Forum,
which was formed in May by vendors including
HP, Microsoft, Polycom and Juniper Networks. Baratz said Avaya has concerns
about the operating model for the group, while Gurle said Skype is still
deciding whether to join.