Avaya on Wednesday confirmed a dramatic update to its unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) portfolio that will give Avaya an end-to-end video and UC offering complete with a collaboration interface called the Flare Experience.
The updated UC&C portfolio will add a number of video conferencing products to its portfolio as well. It also marks the debut of a multimedia endpoint product based on Google's Android mobile OS, making good on rumors that Avaya would release a tablet, or at least, a tablet-like mobile device.
Avaya in the past year has spent much of its energy articulating a UC vision around Aura, its virtualized UC platform and one that makes use of SIP-based architecture. The new releases allow Avaya "to tie it all together on the front-end," said Nancy Maluso, vice president, Avaya Unified Communications Product Marketing.
"What ends up being valuable for Avaya is that the value of SIP and session-based communications hasn't really been seen or felt," she said in an interview with CRN. "If you can enable people to work more effectively together, it becomes very compelling for businesses."
The key Wednesday announcement is Avaya Flare Experience, which is a user interface and software platform for managing various forms of communication, including instant messaging, audio-, video- or web-conferencing, and social networking.
It includes a touch-and-swipe user interface, drag-andd-drop voice and video conferencing capabilities, a virtual rolodex and the ability to download various productivity and other business applications. It was developed on Google Android, and at launch it'll be seen and used on a desktop video endpoint called the Avaya Desktop Video Device, though Avaya will also also be making Flare available for PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
"We built this experience with customers, finding out what it would be like, and we finally have the unified front end," Maluso said.
Avaya's moves come as the competition for UC supremacy heats up from Microsoft, Siemens and especially, Cisco, whose forthcoming Cius tablet is also an Android device and will serve a similar purpose to in the vision Cisco has for UC and collaboration around Quad and other tools.
Going toe-to-toe with Cius, in fact, will be the Desktop Video Device, which itself is the mobile device product that, in the weeks leading up to Avaya's announcement, many had surmised was a tablet. It's a mobile unit, but according to Maluso, "We're not calling it a tablet, because a tablet is really a computational device. If you think of the iPad, it's not optimized for collaboration."
The Video Device (estimated at $2,000, available in Q4) offers an 11.6-inch HD touchscreen display with video and audio capabilities, an HD 720-pixel camera and built-in dual microphones. It's enabled for SIP, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and USB connectivity with an optional keyboard or handset. According to Avaya, future versions will support remote access over VPN connections and also 4G network access.
NEXT: Avaya's Video Lineup Takes Shape