Avaya Communicating on All Fronts

By Paula Musich  |  Posted 2008-03-17

Avaya Communicating on All Fronts

Avaya on March 17 will outline its most comprehensive set of unified communications products and services to date when it introduces at VoiceCon in Orlando, Fla., a new presence server, a multiprotocol UC client, a series of UC consulting services and six vertical UC systems aimed at specific types of workers.

Avaya's new Intelligent Presence Server is unique in its ability to integrate presence information from multiple sources, said Diane Shariff, director of UC at Avaya, in Milpitas, Calif.

"You can see presence from other applications and from different states," she said.  "For example, if a call comes into the contact center and the agent doesn't have the answer, enterprises can use presence capabilities to be able to find that right person based on [predefined] rules and then connect them with the customer."

The six new offerings, which Shariff said are priced at under $100 per employee, are designed specifically for teleworkers, mobile employees, home-based contact center agents, SMB (small and midsize business) employees, and employees at retail and bank branches.

Nick Lippis, principal at Lippis Consulting in Hingham, Mass., said the server provides an architecture to link presence from multiple sources, such as Office Communications Server and Exchange from Microsoft, and Domino and Sametime from IBM, as well as public instant messaging services such as AIM and Google, allowing users to see who is available from within a single interface, rather than having to look at five different IM or UC clients.

"This is a big deal," said Lippis.  

It can also be used as a development platform for creating presence-aware applications.

It is due in May with initial integration with Microsoft's Office Communicator. Avaya will add integrations with IBM Lotus Sametime and Microsoft Exchange later this year, along with a software development kit for Avaya DevConnect developer partners.

IBM is on a unified communications quest. Find out more.

Avaya will also launch a UC client that can work in multivendor environments and can act as a front end to other systems such as Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2007.

The Avaya one-X Communicator acts as a sort of uber user interface to multiple communications tools, including desktop video, visual voice mail, presence, e-mail, IM, directories and contact history.  It provides one-click launch for any type of communication.

The initial release, which supports both H.323 and Session Initiation Protocols, works with telephony presence in Avaya's Communication Manager and IM presence from Microsoft's OCS 2007.  Additional integrations are planned for later release.

It also works with Polycom video processing technology to allow such functions as transfer, forward, conference and hold to be applied to desktop video.

It is due in May from Avaya, as well as partner Lenovo in versions that run on the ThinkPad.

New UC Vertical Offerings

With its six new vertical UC offerings that package products and services together, Avaya took a rifle approach to pick off opportunities for UC deployments aimed at specific types of workers.

The Intelligent Presence Server can aggregate presence information from telephony, desktop or application sources from Avaya as well as third parties, including Microsoft and IBM.

The Unified Communications Solutions for teleworkers seeks to give those remote users the same communications experience they would have in an office setting. Functions supported include collaboration, click to communicate, desktop video and more. It works with a PC or a Mac and integrates with IBM Lotus Sametime and the Microsoft Office Communicator.  "You can plug in our VPN remote phone into your home office router, and it works just like an office phone," said Shariff.

The UC Solution for mobile workers focuses on wireless integration and works with some 500 different handheld devices, including the Apple iPhone. The Avaya Home Agent solution is aimed at allowing contact center operators to work from home and deliver the same level of performance. The Unified Communications Solution for SMBs allows employees to work remotely but remain instantly accessible.

The Intelligent Branch for Retail offering integrates with existing communications infrastructure such as call boxes, and the Intelligent Branch for Banking integrates with IBM's Lotus Sametime to emphasize improved customer service.

Lippis said the Intelligent Branch offerings allow banks and retailers to use UC to improve the customer experience by addressing their key concerns, which include lack of skilled staff in the branch, difficult-to-maintain customer loyalty and high employee turnover. 

The new Avaya UC Services consulting practice is focused on helping customers plan, design and deploy UC projects. Planning takes into account the different types of workers that will use a UC system and determine what types of applications are most appropriate for those users. Design focuses on technical requirements and takes into account equipment, carrier plans and applications. Integration and Implementation services include pretesting technology in Avaya's Solutions Labs as well as deployment services.

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