Avaya and Skype are finally making good on long-held rumors of a strategic partnership -- one intended to give Avaya another tool in its UC arsenal while driving Skype adoption in business settings.
The partnership, unveiled Wednesday, is a two-phase integration that will bring Skype interoperability to Avaya UC and infrastructure products. Avaya's UC products will support Skype Connect, the tool Skype unveiled earlier this year as a means for sending and receiving Skype communications through existing IP PBX infrastructures. An Avaya infrastructure user could make calls using Skype, for example, but the Avaya products can also assign policy, such as who can make Skype calls and how often they can be made.
The first phase of the agreement extends to Skype voice capabilities only, and will be ready this quarter. The second phase, expected to be completed by the second half of 2010, will integrate Skype video, messaging and presence technologies as well. Routing, conferencing, messaging and contact center functions will be interoperable with Skype applications, said Alan Baratz, Avaya senior vice president and president, Global Communications Solutions.
"Customers on Avaya infrastructure will be fully federated with complete Skype services," Baratz said on a Wednesday morning conference call announcing the deal.
The Avaya infrastructure products and platforms that will support Skype interoperability from the outset include Avaya Aura, Avaya CS1000, Avaya IP Office and Avaya BCM, giving the vendor a full range of UC options for enterprise and SMB customers alike.
Avaya customers will still need to set up a Skype Connect account directly with Skype to use the service, and it will only be available in the U.S. for the time being. Baratz said that Avaya's direct sales force and its channel partners will be important for helping customers understand the value and benefits. As part of the agreement, Avaya Connect channel partners can earn service fees for referring customers to Skype Connect.
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