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Avaya lays out Nortel migration road map

Avaya says moving Nortel customers to its unified communications packages can be done gradually and reduce costs, too.

By , Network World
January 18, 2010 08:00 AM ET

Network World - Avaya tomorrow will reveal a road map that shows how its customers – in particular its newly minted Nortel customers -- can move to unified communications technologies without ripping out existing gear.

The rise and fall of Nortel

The plan particularly addresses how the company will eliminate overlap between its own and Nortel's product lines, sometimes favoring Avaya technology, sometimes Nortel's, in the areas of unified communications, contact centers, small and midsize businesses as well as network infrastructure. At the same time the plan enables cost savings via SIP trunking which will let customers send voice and data over one pipe rather than multiple lines and other reduced costs by centralizing administration of corporate phone systems, Avaya says.

The net result, says Alan Baratz, senior vice president and president for Global Communication Solutions at Avaya, is expanded capabilities, reduced costs and less disruptive change.

Promising to accomplish a significant part of this within the year is an aggressive goal that may impress Nortel customers looking for an attractive path to unified communications, says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with the Yankee group.

Delivering on time is important because former Nortel customers that want to aggressively pursue UC won't want to wait and wait, he says. Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy's time at Cisco may help because of that rival's experience in buying other companies and integrating them smoothly, he says.

"Every Nortel customer is going to have a competitive vendor trying to create a path to their own unified communications solution," he says. Fumbling won't be fatal, Kerravala says, but it could mean a loss of the impressive 25% marketshare he says Avaya has amassed in telephony.

As for the specifics of the road map, adding an essential SIP layer into the communications hierarchy will be accomplished via Avaya Aura, the company's SIP-based communication software platform that will be sandwiched between communications infrastructure - such as PBXs - and services - such as voice, video, messaging, conferencing and mobility.

With Aura in place, legacy Avaya and Nortel PBXs will interoperate with SIP-based VoIP gear. So Nortel Communication Server 1000 IP PBX with Aura layered on top of it could interface with SIP-based phones plugged into the Aura side of the network. All the phones would have CS 1000 features and the same button sequencing in order to navigate those features, Baratz says. Also, legacy Nortel phones could be plugged into the Aura side of the network.

This move will reduce cost of adopting unified communications because it reduces the need for replacing PBXs and phones as well as the cost of retraining end users in how new phones work, he says.

The plan requires software integration and it won't happen overnight, Baratz says, but it will be accomplished by the end of this year, likely in November, Baratz says. Nortel's Business Communications System Manager will be incorporated into Aura, as will Nortel's Agile Communications Environment (ACE), which enables infusing applications with communications capabilities.

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