Avaya Ups Ante In Unified Communications

communications VoIP

Avaya, Basking Ridge, N.J., is keeping pace with other big name players such as Cisco Systems and Microsoft that are also using acquisitions and planned product launches to pounce on the unified communications market.

With the $15 million acquisition of privately held Traverse, Fremont, Calif., Avaya is adding call handling applications and voicemail management tools that will tie mobile devices into its IP communications platform, said Jorge Blanco, vice president of software solutions at Avaya.

"It allows us to extend our end user experience and messaging to over 500 devices," Blanco said. Among those devices are Research In Motion's Blackberry platform, Palm's Treo line, and mobile phones like Motorola's RAZR that run on J2ME (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition), he said.

Blanco said Traverse competes with Orative, the San Jose, Calif.-based startup that is currently being acquired by Cisco for $31 million.

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Avaya's vision for unified communications includes not only its products but those from a variety of other vendors, including handset makers, desktop and back-office application vendors and videoconferencing players, Blanco said.

Channel partners will need to "deepen the conversation" with their customers to delve into complex solutions that include advanced conferencing and collaboration, video and integration with forthcoming Microsoft products such as Office 2007, he said.

In addition to the acquisition, Avaya also rolled out new bundles that will make it easier and cheaper for customers to buy the vendor's voice platforms and applications at the same time, Blanco said. Customers stand to save 10 percent to 20 percent on the bundled editions vs. buying the products separately, he said.

The new editions should also shorten the sales cycle for Avaya solution providers, he said.

The product bundles include: Unified Communications, Essential Edition for office-based users that need advanced VoIP and messaging with basic conferencing capabilities; Standard Edition for users that require mobility tools; Advanced Edition for users that need integrated voice and collaboration capabilities; and Professional Edition for high-end users that require video communications and speech recognition.

The new Unified Communications editions are scheduled for availability in January. Pricing was not disclosed.

Avaya has scheduled an eight-city road show to educate channel partners on its new unified communications strategy.