Avaya Bolsters Aura UC, Collaboration Capabilities
Avaya is expanding its collaboration technology lineup with the latest version of its Aura Conferencing solution and the expansion of its Avaya Flare Experience to Apple's iPad tablet and desktops and notebooks running Microsoft's Windows operating system.
The company on Aug. 8 also unveiled a new version of its Avaya Aura unified communications (UC) platform and greater mobility capabilities for its Communications Server 1000.
With the new offerings, Avaya is giving businesses a full-featured collaboration solution that offers an alternative to such competitors at Cisco's WebEx and Citrix Systems' GoToMeeting platforms, according to Jorge Blanco, vice president of marketing for Avaya.
We are taking a communications platform and embedding collaboration, Blanco told eWEEK.
The cornerstone of what Avaya is rolling out is its Aura Conferencing 7.0, the latest version of the company's communications and collaboration solution. Avaya Aura Conferencing 7.0 enables users to run session-based, unified voice and Web collaboration from a host of endpoints, including Apple Macs, desktop PCs, tablets and smartphones. Blanco said the offering provides both the scalability and security that enterprises demand, while addressing growing trends in the industry, including greater mobility and bring your own device (BYOD).
The solution leverages the user interface of the Avaya Flare Experience on the iPad and Microsoft Windows PCs for communications and multimodal collaboration, including voice, document sharing, instant messaging, email and directories. It also offers a host of features that create a richer collaboration environment, according to Blanco, including desktop and application sharing, white-boarding and controls that get rid of many of the disruptions traditionally found in online collaboration environments, from announcing or identifying attendees to speaker identification and background noise. Users also can zoom in on particular documents or presentations. In addition, minutes taken during the meeting can be saved on the session, allowing anyone who wishes to easily go back into the session and see what happened.
Aura Conferencing 7.0 can scale up to 7,500 active conferencing sessions involving workers located anywhere, and offers what Blanco called a distributed, cascading architecture that links a centralized, hosted media server with distributed media servers at other locations that offer local media streams. The result is that less WAN bandwidth is used, driving down connectivity costs. The impact of a collaboration solution on the network continues to be a key concern for businesses, Blanco said. With Aura Conferencing 7.0, Avaya was looking to lessen those concerns, he said.
Avaya's solution also is clientless, a key part of the company's story, according to Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research.
The company released a collaboration platform that requires only a Web browser to invoke, Kerravala said in an Aug. 7 post on the No Jitter blog site. Unlike many of the clientless solutions that have very basic functionality, the Avaya Web-based collaboration application is as feature-rich as most solutions that require clients. ¦ Considering the strength of some of the Web conferencing platforms such as GoToMeeting and Webex, Avaya needs a solution that's simple and easy to use if they were going to gain some traction, and this product is certainly both of those.
Avaya is making Aura Conferencing 7.0 available for $140 per user with the Collaboration Agent browser interface, and for $190 per user with the addition of Avaya Flare Experience for Windows-based PCs and iPad tablets. Blanco said Avaya Flare Experience will support devices based on Google's Android OS in the next iteration. The upgraded collaboration solution is supported by Avaya Aura 6.2 and can connect to either Avaya Aura Communication Manager or Avaya CS 1000 systems.
Avaya also is rolling out an iPhone collaboration app, which includes such capabilities as document sharing and messaging. It was specially designed for the iPhone's screen size, Blanco said. The iPhone is a big part of this now, as is Windows and the iPad, he said.
In addition, users of Avaya's CS 1000 can now add an Aura-based Collaboration Pack, which offers the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) capabilities found in Avaya Aura and greater mobility options. The Collaboration Pack now includes Avaya's Flare Communicator technology and the company's one-X Mobile SIP for iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad.