Avaya Joins Polycom To Integrate Voice, Video Over IP

The aim of the new partnership is to provide customers with a converged IP infrastructure that supports voice, data and video applications, executives from the two companies said.

"The whole idea is to make a video call as simple as a voice call," said Micky Tsui, vice president and general manager of the communications systems division at Avaya, Basking Ridge, N.J.

Products stemming from the partnership will be sold through Avaya's direct and indirect channels. Avaya's channel partners will also be able to resell offerings from Avaya Global Services to support the new products, Tsui said.

The first product to stem from the partnership will integrate Polycom's ViaVideo II desktop videoconferencing system with the Avaya IP Softphone. Scheduled for shipment in the second quarter of 2004, the integrated solution will enable users to make voice and video calls via a PC or laptop, said Hans Schwarz, senior vice president and chief systems architect at Polycom, Pleasanton, Calif.

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"As you transfer a call or route a call, the different video components would go with it," Schwarz said.

Other collaborations will combine Avaya's MultiVantage Communications Applications Suite with different elements of the Polycom lineup, including desktop and group conferencing systems, unified conferencing bridges and voice terminals. Future development plans also call for the companies to incorporate support for Session Initiation Protocol, an emerging call control standard.

As part of the partnership, Avaya has also expanded its reseller agreement to sell Polycom products globally. Previously, Avaya has resold Polycom gear in North America.

Separately, Avaya Monday bolstered its IP telephony portfolio with new products that fortify the security of VoIP calls and fill out the vendor's offerings to cater to distributed enterprises of varying sizes.

The product rollout includes the latest version of the vendor's Communication Manager, new media gateways and servers, and new IP and wireless IP phones.

Communication Manager 2.0 adds support for the Advanced Encryption Standard, an open security standard, to encrypt voice traffic. Version 2.0 also adds IP signaling encryption, which protects the call setup process between a headquarters and a branch office and helps fend off malicious hackers who might try to intercept phone conversations or make free phone calls, said Lawrence Byrd, convergence strategist at Avaya.

"Security is the No. 1 thing customers ask about when they move to VoIP," Byrd said.

With the rollout, Avaya is introducing new packaging for Communication Manager that includes single-site and multisite editions and a universal per-user license structure that is no longer tied to the type of end point customers deploy, Byrd said.

The new licensing structure will cut costs for customers, said Jeff Hiebert, CEO of ROI Networks, a solution provider in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

"Avaya's new user-based licensing enables customers to utilize a choice of either analog, digital or IP stations and eliminate the need for relicensing when they justify migrating to IP at the desktop," Hiebert said.

Avaya is also rolling out the G350 Media Gateway for small branch offices with fewer than 40 users and the G650 Media Gateway for medium and large enterprises with more than 450 users. Pricing starts at $2,800 and $3,900, respectively.

The vendor's new lineup also includes the S8500 Media Server for mid- to large-size enterprises with up to 2,400 end points, priced at $6,000.

In addition, Avaya is filling out its IP handset offerings with the new low-end 4601 and mid-range 4610SW phones, as well as the 4690 IP speakerphone for conference rooms. New wireless IP phones include the 3616 compact handset and the 3626 rugged phone for industrial environments.

The new products are available now.