Avaya Clarifies Unified Communications Stance

The company aims to extend its leadership with a revamped product lineup and its Traverse Networks acquisition.

Avaya reasserted its leadership in the fragmented Unified Communications space on Nov. 16 when it launched a revamped product lineup and announced its acquisition of mobility applications provider Traverse Networks.

Avayas new Unified Communications Division, formed in September in an effort to more coherently address the entire market, will bring Traverse Networks under its wing to integrate its CallConnect with Visual Voicemail mobility application with existing Avaya IP Telephony offerings.

Traverse Networks, acquired for $15 million in cash, brings the ability for users working with a range of access devices to remotely control their office voice mail systems.

The client-server based software provides call handling and voice mail management to Rim BlackBerry devices, Palm smart phones and J2ME-enabled mobile phones such as the Motorola Razor, among others.

"Were now extending access to over 500-plus types of devices. We will incorporate their technology to do tighter integration with a variety of different devices, whether mobile or desktop, into a seamless experience," said Jorge Blanco, vice president of software solutions at Avaya in Basking Ridge, N.J.

The Traverse Networks software allows users to see and hear office voice mail via an inbox on their mobile devices.

The inbox shows office voice mail along with the name of the caller, when the message was sent and how long the message is.

Users dont have to dial a number to access the office voice mail, dont have to enter a PIN and dont have to scroll through touch-tone menus.

"There are only two things you should need to know to find me: my e-mail address and my phone number. We give the end user a choice to be 100 percent mobile with direct linkage to enterprise connectivity and call control," said Blanco.

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Avaya, which already completed the acquisition, said it does not plan to lay off any of Traverse Networks 24 employees.

At the same time Avaya announced the Traverse Networks acquisition, it also introduced four new Unified Communications packages aimed at making it simpler for customers to buy the type of functionality they want, without having to put together separate product components.

The four new offerings include Unified Communications, Essential Edition, aimed at office-based users who simply want IP telephony, messaging and six-party conferencing. "One customer called it the God-given right capability," said Blanco.

Unified Communications, Standard Edition builds on that to add unified office and mobile communications functions that operate across most major mobile platforms.

Unified Communications, Advanced Edition adds to that collaboration functions that integration voice and whiteboard sessions; Unified Communications, Professional Edition brings in high-definition video conferencing and voice-driven access to messages.

"Were connecting the dots in a functionally progressive way and allowing the customer to buy it much more seamlessly than if they had to buy piece-by-piece," said Blanco.

As Unified Communications gets more and more attention in the market, especially from rival Cisco Systems, Avaya is looking with the latest offerings to define where it sits in the pecking order.

"We need to be clear what our role is. Were very focused on providing a best-in-the-industry model for our customers thats multivendor in nature, brings core applications to the forefront and provides integration for all the things that make up the Unified Communications market today," said Blanco.

The four new offerings are due in the first half of 2007.

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