Channel Sees Plenty Of Spark In Avaya's Flare Experience

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Avaya channel partners see plenty of reason to celebrate both Flare Experience, the company's just-launched collaboration dashboard software, and the video and UC-centric products Avaya debuted to populate its Flare ecosystem.

"I'm really impressed with the way that Avaya has taken the UC message and focused it on the people involved," said John O'Shea, vice president of product marketing for the networking division at Tech Data. "The biggest issue that exists today for collaboration is an easy-to-use interface, so I'm impressed with the device and the offering and the way they've enabled a Flare universe."

"They hit the mark," said Joseph Cassano, executive vice president at Juma Technology, a Farmingdale, N.Y.-based solution provider. "I think it's Avaya showing that they're going to create technology as opposed to waiting for their competitors to do so."

Avaya took the wraps off the Flare Experience at an event in New York Wednesday.

The full offering -- a collaboration dashboard designed to run on a host of devices, desktop and mobile, plus a fleet of UC and video endpoint technologies to go with it -- dramatically expands Avaya's collaboration portfolio and also gives it an end-to-end video offering for the first time.

According to Avaya, it's the capabilities of the collaboration platform that should be the focus, not the devices it runs on, although Avaya did make waves Wednesday with the debut of Flare's first endpoint, a mobile tablet. It's a capacitive touch screen device called the Avaya Desktop Video Device, and it'll be inevitably compared to Cisco's forthcoming Cius tablet, Apple's iPad and other big-splash entries in the expanding tablet space.

But Avaya did a good job Wednesday of articulating its vision for the software and devices with Aura, its virtualized UC platform. The vendor put the emphasis, VARs said, on the platform possibilities instead of the products.

One key difference with this release as opposed to previous SiP-centric Avaya product releases, they added, is that the use cases for the end user are clearly visible. VARs can sell a user experience to customers, not a SIP architecture, even though it's SIP and Avaya's Aura platform that's powering that experience, said James McKenna, Jr.

"If you think about it, in this environment, customers are saying, why do I need to upgrade?" said McKenna, executive vice president and general manager of Data-Com Telecommunications, a Flanders, N,J.-based division of Xeta Technologies "Before, there hadn't yet been that killer app, and that collaboration and UC play customers crave. SIP is a hard thing to explain to a customer."

Ben Schoolsky, vice president of sales for Consolidated Technologies Inc., a Port Chester, N.Y.-based solution provider and Avaya Platinum partner, also saw Avaya as "moving in the right direction." Consolidated has committed to Avaya's messaging around SIP architecture, he said, and the products supporting that architecture.

"It's all about the play, not about the device or the endpoints," he said. "I think it's great that the new device is sweet and is nice, but each user is different and they all communicate differently. Avaya is saying, 'I don't care how you choose to communicate, but I'm going to assist you and make it easy for you."


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