Avaya Leverages Nortel with Latest UC Offerings

Avaya officials are following through on promises to aggressively integrate technologies acquired from Nortel to build up its enterprise communications offerings. The newest UC and contact center offerings are the latest examples.

When Avaya officials last year announced their intention to buy struggling Nortel Networks' enterprise business for $915 million, both they and some analysts believed that would push the company toward the top of the enterprise telephony market.

And that's a market that includes the likes of technology heavyweight Cisco Systems. Both Avaya and analysts estimated that with Nortel, Avaya would control about 25 percent of the enterprise telephony space-which includes UC (unified communications)-as compared with Cisco's 16 percent.

At the time the deal was announced in September 2009, Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with The Yankee Group, said that Cisco was "facing a significantly more challenging competitor with the combined Avaya-Nortel."

Avaya officials said they were going to aggressively pursue a product roadmap that leverages what the company from Nortel and what Avaya already had in place, in particular using their Aura SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)-based platform as the foundational technology for the roadmap.

Avaya officials outlined their roadmap in January, and unveiled a host of new networking and UC tools at the Interop 2010 show in April.

They took another step July 20, with the rollout of new and enhanced UC and contact center offerings. Along with better security, scalability and flexibility in Aura 6.0, Avaya announced Aura Conferencing Standard Edition, which offers audio, video and Web conferencing capabilities on a single server and offers integration with UC products from Microsoft, IBM and Adobe. The Enterprise Edition will come later.

Aura Messaging, Presence Services, Session Manager 6.0 and Communication Manager 6.0 offer messaging and management capabilities, while Aura Session Border Controller enables users to connect real-time SIP-based UC features to IP-based devices, smartphones and applications inside and outside the company, while protecting the network and devices from attack.

A number of other new and enhanced products round out the communications solutions releases, and helps Avaya in continuing to differentiate from the competition, according to Steve Hardy, director of UC products and solutions marketing for Avaya.

"Our completeness is second to none," Hardy said in an interview with eWEEK.

Aura is also the basis for the company's next-generation contact center solutions, which are designed to help businesses improve their customer satisfaction at a time when people more easily will move from one store to another.

"Companies are a little less sticky then they used to be," Chris McGugan, vice president of product marketing for Avaya's contact center unit, said in an interview. "People are much more willing to change their brands."

The goal of the Aura Contact Center offerings is to give businesses a better chance to retaining their customers when they have to interact with the company. It enables customers to contact a businesses' contact center through multiple means, and then to better track the customers' communications, past history and present needs, McGugan said.

Both McGugan and Hardy said these offerings are only the latest in what Avaya intends to be an aggressive integration of Nortel technology into the company's roadmaps.