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Avaya Spruces Up IP Office With New Video, Analytics

Flagship UC suite for SMBs gets a makeover; Nortel integration in small business category continues.

Avaya Monday confirmed a number of updates to Avaya IP Office, the vendor's principal UC offering for small- and medium-sized businesses.

The release, dubbed Avaya IP Office Release 6.1, is the third update to the platform stemming back to last December, and includes expanded video capabilities and multi-site management among the enhancements.

The SMB segment, which Avaya refers to as small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), is 100-percent channel for Avaya. Specifically, said Isabelle Guis, Avaya's senior director of marketing for SME, Avaya wants to further penetrate the sub-20 employee market, and increase the rate of software attach seen in SME sales.

"Our priorities have not changed," Guis told CRN, adding that the attach rate for software for Avaya SME customers has grown by a factor of two in the past year.

IP Office remains Avaya's go-to UC suite for that segment, and prices those deployments between $2,500 and $7,100 depending on users.

Avaya one-X Portal for IP Office, the web-based desktop communications interface for remote and branch office workers, now features drag-and-drop capabilities for call management, instant messaging, e-mails and other forms of communication, as well as interface skins. IP Office's contact center reporting has also received a business intelligence boost; according to Avaya, SMBs can track and analyze via geographic map how and when call contacts are occurring.

On the video end, IP Office now allows multi-point HD videoconferencing for up to four parties, as well as video integration with select SIP phones from Polycom (the VVX) and Grandstream (the GXV3140). That's a sizable bump up from previous IP Office releases, which topped out at softphone-based video.

"Right now the majority of our customers want video as a requirement, and they want the platform they're buying to be video-ready," Guis said.

IP Office 6.1 further includes the ability for SMBs to manage multiple office sites using one interface and log-in. The release also offers different set-up: it installs via a single DVD containing a Linux-based OS and the main communications applications, whereas before, multiple DVDs and other sources were needed.

The ongoing Avaya-Nortel integration roadmap, stemming from Avaya's completed acquisition of Nortel's enterprise business unit in late 2009, has also met a number of new milestones, Guis said. Avaya IP Office is now fully interoperable with Nortel's Business Communication Manager (BCM), and solution providers dealing with mixed or legacy Nortel or Avaya environments can mix-and-match with both solutions, including heritage Nortel IP desk phones, in multi-site deployments. BCM 6.0 saw a release from Avaya in September that offered improved mobility and an updated conferencing portal.

IP Office and other product updates will continue in the new year, Guis said, although she doesn't anticipate other end-of-sales or major changes in the next few months. End of sale for Nortel's SMB-geared Norstar was announced in early October, although Avaya will provide a sub-20 version of Norstar for customers in the Middle East and Africa, where, Guis said, Norstar is "extremely popular."

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