A Look At The Avaya Flare Experience

The Aura Story Continues

Avaya's Flare Experience is a collaboration dashboard designed to run on host devices, desktop and mobile alike, including the Avaya Desktop Video Device. Along with the software collaboration platform and tablet, Avaya also launched a number of video endpoints and services this week, dramatically expanding what the vendor can offer for video, UC and collaboration tools.

The next few slides get into the finer points of the launch, but in the background, it's Aura, Avaya's virtualized UC platform, that's driving Avaya's vision of SIP-based architecture transforming the way businesses use networking and collaboration technologies. Avaya VARs have largely embraced the Aura platform, and at a Flare Experience launch event in New York Wednesday, they saw plenty of opportunity around Flare, too.

Fired Up With Flare

In a nutshell, it's a user interface and software platform that corrals all of a user's forms of communication -- instant messaging, audio, video, web-conferencing, social networking feeds, etc. -- and presents them in a customized, easy-access format that leverages SIP-based networking architecture, in the form of Aura, on the back end. Flare, whose home screen is seen here on the Avaya Desktop Video Device, includes a touch-and-swipe interface, drag-and-drop voice and video conferencing capabilities, a virtual rolodex and the ability to download various productivity and business applications. It was developed using Google Android, meaning one more instance where Google's red-hot mobile OS has muscled its way into potential business settings.

Formerly Mojo

In the weeks leading up to Avaya's announcement, the whispers were that it was set to release a tablet PC. That's more or less what Avaya did, too, with the introduction of the Avaya Desktop Video Device, called "Mojo" in its development phase. The point of the overall announcement isn't the device -- Avaya is trying to keep emphasis on the Flare Experience as an interface and collaboration platform for many different types of devices -- but it's still an Avaya tablet: an 11.6-inch HD touchscreen display complete with an HD 720p camera and built-in dual microphones. It's enabled for SIP, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and USB connectivity with an optional keyboard or handset. Avaya has said that future versions will support remote access over VPN connections and also 4G network access.

Estimated price is $2,000 per unit, and it'll be available in the fourth quarter.

Phones and Servers

There's plenty in the new Avaya video portfolio to support the Flare Experience and Aura. Among the new offerings is the Avaya Flare Experience for Avaya 9600 desk phones (pictured; Flare Experience available in Q4), which brings Flare tools, plus desktop integration with Microsoft Outlook, to the phones themselves. There's also the Avaya one-X Communicator Desktop Video Soft Client -- providing SIP-based video in a UC desktop interface, for $0 with Avaya Aura Enterprise and $60 per user with Avaya Aura Standard, plus $42/user to enable video.

Use of Flare and its various associated products requires Avaya Aura 6.0 infrastructure. But for users who don't already have it, Avaya is also offering the Avaya Collaboration Server ($27,000 with standard Aura software license, available in November), which is essentially Aura 6.0 in a box and supports up to 50 endpoints using other multi-vendor H.323 or SIP communications systems.

Video Systems

Avaya introduced a number of video endpoints as part of the overall Flare Experience launch. Along with the Desktop Video Soft Client, there are the Avaya 1010 and 1020 video systems for workgroups and small conference rooms ($3,699 to $4,999), Avaya 1030, 1040 and 1050 video systems for mid-to-large conference rooms ($9,999 to $21,999), and Avaya Videoconferencing Manager 6.0, a software package for managing video tools. The products themselves use Avaya software, with hardware and codecs from LifeSize Communications under OEM agreement.

Services In View

Also new this week is Avaya Professional Services for Video, a series of consulting services around design and planning, video readiness assessments, infrastructure optimization, and implementation with existing SIP or H.323 environments. Avaya Managed Video Services include help desk and end user support for video management and scheduling functions.

There's also a Software-as-a-Service version of Avaya web.alive, the company's web conferencing platform intended for business meetings, distance learning and analytics. Sold on a subscription model, web.alive is $600 per concurrent user per year, or premise-based (available now) or hosted (November) under custom pricing.

The Competition Heats Up

Avaya's Flare Experience, Desktop Video Device and other releases hit the market this fall, hoping to entice customers just as consumer-centric devices like Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab draw curious glances from business users, and business tablets that are part of overall UC and collaboration strategies -- such as Cisco's forthcoming Cius -- garner buzz and attention. With more UC-savvy companies looking to overhaul their own strategies to keep up with the collaboration trend, it'll be a crowded market next year.