Avaya Puts Cloud-Based Communications In Motion

Avaya's move comes roughly one year after the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based company first introduced its cloud strategy under the Collaborative Cloud brand. That strategy largely has been centered around AvayaLive, a suite of public cloud-delivered communications services targeted at the SMB space. But, with the launch of its new UC-, contact center-, and video-as-a-service solutions, Avaya and its channel are set to position themselves as leaders in cloud-based communications, said Bruce MacVarish, director, product management, Avaya Cloud Solutions.

"So, last year, we kind of laid out the game plan, laid out the road map, said, 'Here's we want to go,' " MacVarish told CRN. "The good news is that ... these announcements are directly on that path."

[Related: 6 Questions On The Mind Of The Avaya Channel, Answered ]

Avaya's new cloud-based UC, contact center and video solutions are based on Aura, its core communications architecture. The contact center solution, which encompasses Avaya's Customer Experience Management suite, will be offered alongside the UC-as-a-service piece on a single Aura architecture.

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Meanwhile, Avaya's video-as-a-service solution is based on the Radvision platform it acquired last year and will deliver the full suite of features found in Avaya's Elite Series MCUs, Scopia Mobile and Scopia Desktop offerings.

Avaya also is rolling out a managed private cloud offering, called Avaya Communications Outsourcing Solutions Express, for contact centers hosting 500 or fewer concurrent agents. The offering, which will be delivered by Avaya as part of its managed services business, will carry the Avaya brand, but MacVarish said channel partners will have the option of hosting the service and co-branding it alongside Avaya.

The new UC-, contact center-, and video-as-a-service solutions will be hosted primarily by large-scale system integrators and cloud service providers, with Verizon already on board. According to Jitender Singh, director of Business Development for Avaya's Cloud Solutions, Avaya solution providers can either resell these solutions from these larger service providers or potentially host them on their own.

"A large service provider can host an Avaya cloud in their data center and provide all the resources for managing it and offering it, offering it as a white-label service," Singh said. "Smaller, traditional solution providers ... they would be able to leverage this wholesale cloud from one of our larger partners and resell it, rebrand it or co-brand it. Each set of partner will have a different role to play."

Singh said the service providers hosting Avaya's cloud will benefit from a unique, utility-based pricing model that allows them to pay for customer usage as they go. He said the model differs from those of Avaya competitors, many of which charge service providers up front to host their solutions, regardless of how much customer usage they rack up during the month.

"From a business model perspective, we are really trying to lower that barrier of entry or risk for partners as they try to turn to this nascent market. Most of our competitors, the way they handle cloud is shifting that entire risk to the partner," Singh said. "In our case, it’s a pay-as-you-sell model, so we only charge the partner for what actually they sell on a month-to-month basis. So we are sharing that risk and the rewards with the partners."

Avaya's new cloud-based UC, contact center, and voice solutions will allow it to go head-to-head with other UC players placing bets on hosted collaboration, such as Cisco and ShoreTel.