Avaya Updates UC Wares

Mark Monday, vice president and general manager of the collaboration platforms business unit at Avaya.

Mark Monday, vice president and general manager of the collaboration platforms business unit at Avaya.

Avaya has updated both its high-end Aura and lower-end IPOffice communications lineups, and introduced a new messaging service for small businesses and contact centers.

With the release of IPOffice 9.0, the company completes its journey for its once SMB-focused IP telephony platform into the midsize business market. As recently as 18 months ago, IPOffice supported a maximum of 384 users. With the release of IPOffice 8.1 last year, that went to 1,000 users, and now with 9.0, it’s gone to 2,000 users per installation.

“It’s the same product our partners have always known, but we’re expanding their ability to hunt after bigger customers,” said Mark Monday, vice president and general manager of the collaboration platforms business unit at Avaya.

IPOffice is also now available as a fully virtualization version, in addition to its traditional hardware appliance form. Solution providers can install it on a customers’ premises, or offer it hosted in their own or a third-party data center, but the software is still single-tenant.

Avaya has also further extended IPOffice by connecting it more closely to its Avaya Aura collaboration environment. For example, Monday said partners can now use Aura as the platform for knowledge workers at headquarters, and use IPOffice in conjunction with Aura to run branch offices.

Aura itself also gets an update with the launch of Feature Pack 3 for Avaya Aura 6.2. The key development with the new release is the introduction of the company’s new Collaboration Environment middleware, an API that lets developers write collaboration-aware applications without understanding the fundamentals of unified communications or contact center. Monday said it’s an opportunity for the company’s partners to develop new applications based on customers’ specific needs, or even offer their repeatable applications for sale across a vertical. “They don’t have to know how a call path works to be able to access the environment and write their apps,” Monday said.

The new API supports snap-ins, essentially widgets of code that can be used through the environment – for example, providing a translation engine for contact centers or other often-needed functionality.

The company has also introduced Avaya Messaging Service, a cloud-based service that allows small businesses and contact centers to allow text messages. The service, available at $10 per month per user, lets a business make any number “textable,” and Monday described it as the final extension of the “find me, follow me” single phone number plan UC vendors have been pursuing for some time. While it’s been quite possible to have a single phone number seamlessly patch through to a variety of devices, sending texts still required either a phone number recognized as textable (a cellphone, for the most part), or accepting a clunky text-to-speech voicemail gateway. Avaya Messaging Service makes any number able to receive texts, delivering those texts to a user’s PC, Mac, Android or iOS phone or tablet, or a number of other devices through an application.

“I no longer give anyone my cell number – they just text me at my desktop number and it shows up on any device,” Monday said.

The service also makes text messages “on the record,” as they’re now recorded outside of the user’s device, which can make exchanges conducted by text available for audit purposes. The technology also allows businesses to make their contact center textable in a limited way, as the service is still number-specific and doesn’t support for contact center call routing.

The service is priced at $120 per year with a minimum of 25 devices. Partners can purchase it through distribution, and Monday said solution provider will “get their normal percentage” based on Avaya’s discount schedule.