Avaya introduces new Avaya Cloud Office capabilities for hybrid cloud workplace

One additional change is that to satisfy data residency requirements in certain markets, Avaya Cloud Office customer data is now stored in-country by default, in select markets, which include Canada and the U.S.

Mike Kuch, Senior Director of Solutions Marketing at Avaya

Avaya has introduced new capabilities for their Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral Unified Communications as a Service [UCaaS] solution. While the shape – or shapes – of the future office are not yet clear, Avaya’s strategy is to have capabilities that are as flexible as possible, to meet the divergent possible forms of the hybrid workplace going forward. The new features include new ways to connect over video, and to connect more easily to cloud communications. Global capabilities were also enhanced.

“What the workplace is going to look like going forward is still evolving,” said Mike Kuch, Senior Director of Solutions Marketing at Avaya. “It hasn’t normalized yet, and is continuing to evolve, even as COVID has accelerated existing trends by 3-5 years. Companies are taking different approaches, however. Apple and Google have indicated that they want people back in the office. Salesforce has said they want hybrid going forward. Yelp basically sold all their office space and are going 100% remote. That’s three very different modalities. We need to have the flexibility to support any of the modalities – and we expect there will be additional modalities we haven’t seen yet. Avaya is emphasizing the need for  flexibility to adapt to the marketplace.”

Avaya announced the Avaya Cloud Office solution, a collaborative project with RingCentral, at their Engage event in February 2020, and rolled it out in the U.S. in March (and in Canada in June). The modern, multi-tenanted cloud offering replaced Avaya’s existing cloud office portfolio, which had never taken the market by storm. Since its inception, Kuch said Avaya Cloud Office has done considerably better.

“We have seen lots of great things around Avaya Cloud Office,” Kuch said. “We launched at the end of March 2020, just as the pandemic was setting in, and it took some time to get momentum, but we have seen huge growth in the product since. It includes upgrades from our traditional base, but also green fields customers, including migrations from other platforms. We have also extended the product several times since it was introduced.”

This most recent extension involves new features in three main areas. One area involves increasing ways to connect over video. A new feature is Avaya Cloud Office Rooms. Using an Avaya Collaboration Unit, Avaya Cloud Office can now turn any workspace into a conference room of any size, from huddle spaces to large boardrooms.

“Avaya Cloud Office Rooms is all about hybrid workplace,” Kuch said. “It’s about making things work together in any environment.”

“Rooms is part of the whole hybrid work motion, where some people come in and some remain remote,” said Oliver Bengtsson, Senior Marketing Manager at Avaya. “It’s extremely straightforward in terms of setup. Every Room has a license, and you book it through your calendar.”

The Avaya Vantage portfolio of smart devices is now also available for the first time through Avaya Cloud Office.

“Vantage has been around for a while, but is new to Avaya Cloud Office,” Bengtsson said. “It adds a four-mic array. so can be used with AI tools like Alexa for business.”

Avaya is also emphasizing that its ‘Plug and Play’ USB devices – USB cameras and audio-conferencing devices, and a docking station to help users connect everything are available for Avaya Cloud Office.

“They were available before, but we hadn’t made any noise about them previously,” Bengtsson indicated. “They feather into the story about return to the office motion. It’s helpful to have dedicated devices to connect them all together.”

The second group of enhancements deal with phones, and include improved voicemail, bridged calls, Park & Page and Group Call Pickup. Visual voicemail lets the user navigate voice messages on their desk phone screen. Bridged Call Appearance lets a primary number appear on multiple phones, so delegates can act on behalf of the phone number owner. Park & Page invokes a page to a defined group with a touch of a button, and enables an “Answer” soft key for anyone in the group. Group Call Pickup lets any member of a designated group be notified when a group member receives an incoming call, and they can answer if the intended recipient is unavailable.

“Voice mail has been declining for years, but there are holdouts, who use things like Park & Page and Pickup,” Bengtsson said. “These features are targeted at helping them make the bridge over to the cloud, and help them get there.”

“These companies all have business processes in place, and these processes are what stop a lot of companies from migrating to cloud,” Kuch said. “We want to make it easy for them to migrate and not have to change their business processes.”

Finally, expanded global expansion capabilities have been announced.

Avaya Cloud Office is available in four license tiers including Essential, Standard, Premium, and Ultimate, and an EU Essentials package is now available in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.

Global Office licenses have now expanded to over forty countries including Greece, Slovenia, Estonia and South Africa. Global Office licenses extend the ability of organizations in the thirteen Avaya Cloud Office markets to include staff from additional countries that can be billed through the home office license.

Last, and most relevant for North America, to facilitate data residency requirements in certain markets, Avaya Cloud Office customer data is now stored in-country by default, without the need for Opt-In, in the U.S., Canada, Germany and the U.K.

“Because Canada gets default for data residency, this ensures data from Canada will be stored on Canadian servers,” Bengtsson said.

Kuch said the other geo news also has relevance to customers and partners in Canada and the U.S.

“An office can be here, but many companies have remote offices all over the world,” he stated. “They need to make sure they can easily communicate while complying with all the local rules.”