Avaya Eyes Midmarket Gains With Bulked-Up IP Office

The new IP Office 9.0, like its predecessors, is being positioned as Avaya's flagship collaboration offering for the midmarket and SMB space. But, IP Office 9.0, according to Avaya, is the first version that can scale to support up to 2,000 users -- double that of prior-generation IP Office 8.1 -- meaning Avaya, and its partners, can now cast a much wider net when selling into the midmarket.

"I really believe we have the complete midmarket covered at this point. You can go all the way down to five users, and all the way up to 2,000," said Gary Barnett, senior vice president and general manager, Collaboration, for Avaya.

[Related: Avaya Looks To Build Out Cloud Portfolio With ITNavigator Acquisition ]

IP Office 9.0 is also the first version from Avaya to support distributed branch support, allowing users to deploy the software across multiple branch locations.

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"It can scale up to 2,000 but doesn't have to do that at a single location," Barnett told CRN. "It's meant to be centralized or distributed."

Ed Dolan, executive vice president of DJJ Technologies, an Islandia, N.Y.- based solution provider and Avaya partner, said Avaya's latest IP Office will arm his company with a "true midmarket offer."

"DJJ technologies is extremely excited about [IP Office] 9.0 and expanding the capabilities to 2,000 seats," Dolan told CRN.

Bill Xydias, director of marketing at Integration Partners, a Lexington, Mass.- based solution provider, agreed. "Avaya's new IP Office release will be very well received by customers," Xydias said. "IP Office helps growing organizations with added capacity, without limitations in features and functionality. And for smaller-sized companies, it's a solution that guarantees to grow with you."

IP Office 9.0 also differs from prior-generation releases in that it can be deployed in VMware vSphere 4.x or 5.x environments as virtualized software. As with prior releases, customers will also have the option of deploying IP Office 9.0 as a hardware appliance or as a pure software offering on their own dedicated server.

The latest version of IP Office underscores a broader effort on Avaya's part to find its sweet spot in the midmarket. Prior to the launch of 8.1 last year, IP Office had a single-site user capacity of 384 users, limiting its appeal significantly to any midmarket organization pushing enterprise-level size. For the enterprise, Avaya offers its Aura Communication Manager, but prior to the launch of IP Office 8.1 and now IP Office 9.0, there wasn't an offering tailor-made for those larger midmarket customers.

Even as IP Office continues to scale, Barnett said there are no plans to have it displace the Aura platform in the enterprise. "You will continue to see Aura really targeted to the enterprise, and IP Office really targeted at midmarket," he said. "We want to give customers great choice."

Avaya also rounded out its collaboration portfolio Tuesday with the new Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment, a platform Avaya says offer "middleware-like" functionality for embedding collaboration features into enterprise applications. Avaya, as an example, said Eutech, a provider of "smart building software," is leveraging the Aura Collaboration Environment to ensure facilities managers receive a phone call or an instant message when, for instance, an elevator gets stuck or power is lost.