Avaya adds Identity-as-a-Service capability through partnership with Post Quantum

The new technology will roll out later this year in a new service, Avaya Mobile Experience, although Canadians will have to wait a little longer, since it will initially be limited to the U.S.

This week at the Enterprise Connect event in Orlando, Avaya made an important and related pair of announcements related to the addition of an Identity-as-a-Service [IDaaS] capability. They announced a partnership with Post Quantum around IDaaS, using blockchain and quantum security technologies. They also announced that the two companies will jointly collaborate on developing a new Avaya mobile cloud service, Avaya Mobile Experience, that will use these technologies to provide enhanced contact centre security.  The plan is to expand the technology to other Avaya offerings in due course.

“This partnership and service are attempting to focus on a use case that will lead to other things in the future,” said David Chavez, Vice President at Avaya’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. “The use case here is a common one. When people interact with businesses through a contact centre, it’s hard to know if the other party is authentic. Any time a person contacts a business now, there’s always a little concern you are really talking to them, because of the sophistication of phishing.”

The Avaya–Post Quantum collaboration is focused on creating a self-sovereign identity system, in which individuals maintain direct control of their own identity attributes and credentials.

“We wanted to make sure that our identity solution was self-sovereign, and if you go down that road, you need transparency among multiple parties,” Chavez said. “The best transparency technology uses blockchain. In addition, most businesses today, when they think of security solutions, think of industry standard security. However, there are issues of what quantum computing will do to traditional security going forward. Blockchain records are immortal – they live forever – and we want to make sure they are wrapped in quantum secure records. The only technology company we found that combined blockchain with a quantum secure method was Post Quantum.”

Chavez described Post Quantum as a technology company.

“Think of them as like a startup where they hire experienced experts in blockchain and quantum security,” he said. “They then use these experts to put together interesting pieces of a solution, and they seek out partners to bring together the pieces for a whole solution.”

Chavez said Avaya will contribute two main pieces to the partnership.

“First, we understand contact centres, so we know exactly the best way to integrate this into a contact centre solution,” he said. “Second, our solution is tightly bound to a smartphone, so that the customer doesn’t have to source any identity pieces on their own.” The IDaaS solution will use biometrics to authenticate mobile callers, unlocking sensitive data and using blockchain to allow contact centres to authenticate the customer’s identity and data.

This is Avaya’s first direct initiative to deal with the identity issue themselves.

“Before, we would leave identity as a problem for other companies to solve,” Chavez said.

The technology will be used first in Avaya Mobile Experience, a consumption-based cloud offering that is scheduled to go live late in calendar year 2018. It will identify when an incoming call originates from a mobile device, transport contextual information on the caller to the contact centre, and enable selected calls to be deflected to the mobile web.

“We are bringing it to market first through Avaya Mobile Experience, because there is a very straightforward path to fit in the mobile operation here,” Chavez said. “This will actually be the hardest use case to design – when someone phones into a contact centre and where neither party has ever heard each other before. At some point in the future, we will also support the same method with a mobile app.”

Avaya Mobile Experience will be available to partners to sell – although partners in Canada will have to wait a little while.

“Anyone can sell this,” Chavez said. “It’s not a direct only play. Initially, however, the solution set will be applied to U.S. phone numbers only. People from Canada will be able to call a U.S. number with Avaya Mobile Experience, but we aren’t supporting Canadian numbers yet.”

That’s not a situation that is likely to last for long, however.

“We will eventually be expanding it beyond that, on a country-by-country basis, Chavez said. “We have Canadian customers who are interested in this, and the Canadian market is one of those that is the easiest for us to expand into. I wouldn’t expect it will take very long for us to develop plans around Canadian numbers.”

Avaya also announced the closing of their acquisition of Spoken Communications, which was originally announced at their Avaya Engage event in January.