Avaya Grows Cloud, Mobile UC Capabilities With Esna Buy

The acquisition of Esna will enable Avaya to integrate communications tools like voice, video and IM inside cloud-based business applications.


Avaya is addressing the growing trend in the unified communications space toward mobile and cloud-based solutions by buying Esna Technologies, which builds real-time collaboration and communications software.

The deal will enable Avaya to integrate multivendor communications capabilities—from voice and video to instant messaging presence and conferencing—into cloud-based applications. The move will make it easier for enterprises and midmarket organizations to adopt such communications-enabled applications and for users to move from one application to another or change devices without disrupting the work they're doing.

The deal was announced May 28, though no financial details were released.

"For all the industry's talk about increasing simplicity, gains have been moderate at best," Gary Barnett, senior vice president and general manager of Avaya's Engagement Solutions business unit, wrote in a post on the company blog. "End users still need to fumble through too many clients and applications to communicate, often taking them away from the work they're actually doing and the applications they work in most frequently. The kinds of applications that people are using continue to evolve, particularly as companies increasingly move away from desktop incumbents toward cloud-based services.

"While Avaya and others have done well closing the gap between desktop and mobile, we still need to bridge the divide between applications—not only communications applications, but business and communications applications."

Unified communications (UC) vendors are spending too much time pushing a vision of a single client that brings together the various aspects of communications and makes them available on any device, which can tie end users to a single vendor and still forces them to exit whatever business applications they're running if they want to communicate, Barnett wrote.

"It takes roughly seven clicks to move from the business application to communicate as desired, and there's likely at least one mode that is mediocre or missing altogether," he wrote. "It's disruptive to collaboration, stifles engagement and impedes progress."

Esna will enable the integration of communications into business applications, which will make it easier for users to collaborate from within the applications they're using and from any device they want, according to Avaya officials. The end result will be greater employee productivity, while IT departments will be able to avoid vendor lock-in through an open approach that will enable them to use their current multivendor collaboration infrastructure while integrating new offerings from Avaya and other companies into cloud-based applications, they said.

Esna, a 26-year-old company based in Ontario, is no stranger to Avaya. The vendor has been a member of Avaya's DevConnect Select Product Program for several years, and its iLink technology enables users of Avaya's Scopia video and voice conferencing platform to embed a link to a Scopia virtual meeting room in a meeting notice in Outlook, Barnett wrote.

Mohammad Nezerati, Esna's founder and former CEO and CTO, said in a post on the Avaya blog that Esna's technology connects Avaya's voice and mobile networks with cloud-based business software such as Salesforce.com, Microsoft's Office 365, Google Apps and Jive Software.

"The company embeds these communication tools inside the business applications people use every day," wrote Nezerati, who now leads Avaya's UC applications group. "That means busy professionals no longer need to use multiple applications to communicate and connect with colleagues, customers and partners."

Avaya in June will offer an Esna-enabled Avaya Communicator Web client for both its IP Office and Aura platforms, which will enable voice and video capabilities that can be embedded into public or private cloud-based business applications. Later this year, Avaya will offer Esna integration with other products, he wrote.