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Avaya shifts high-end features to midsize-business communications platform

IP Office 7.0 pushes new video, conferencing features to smaller companies.

By , Network World
May 17, 2011 08:34 AM ET

Network World - Avaya is updating its IP Office communications platform for small businesses to add collaboration features from its enterprise-grade communication server, including Avaya Flare Experience desktop videoconferencing.

IP Office 7.0 being announced today delivers collaboration tools including presence, a soft client for personal devices that includes video support for personal and room video systems and support for mobile devices.

In addition, the new software includes support for Nortel small and midsize business phone gear from Nortel to enable smooth transition to Avaya's communication and collaboration system.

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The support means customers can replace Nortel Business Communications Manager (BCM) and Norstar phone systems with IP Office and use their existing Nortel handsets - a 40% to 60% savings over installing the Avaya system with all new phones, the company says.

The Agency Group, an international talent booking agency, is making such a transition from Nortel gear to IP Office, says Howie Gold, director of IT for the company. It's not only saving on the phones, but it is also able to reuse its Nortel BCM and Norstar gear in offices that relied on Centrex services before, unifying the international phone system, Gold says.

Using conferencing capabilities that come with the platform means no longer paying $400 to $500 per conference call to AT&T because it can be done in-house, he says. The IP Office/BCM/Norstar system supports four-digit dialing, which Gold says has prompted an increased in the amount of internal calls among employees at far-flung offices - a productivity boost, he says.

IP Office includes features to help automate the transition from the Nortel products to IP Office, Avaya says, including tools that automatically transition voicemails and greetings from BCM to the new system so the tasks don't have to be done manually.

Next year, IP Office will be further upgraded to support Avaya Flare Experience desktop videoconferencing that integrates with larger room systems. Avaya also plans to port Flare to iPads as well as Android- and PC-based mobile devices, the company says.

Also later, IP Office will support what it calls hybrid cloud services that supplement IP Office. So a customer would run IP Office systems on their premises but be able to access cloud-based applications along with it such as Avaya call center or mobility software, the company says. Connections to the cloud-based applications would be via SIP trunks. Avaya service provider partners that could support this include Bell Canada, Verizon and BT.

IP Office 7.0 supports high-end Avaya touchscreen phones that formerly required Avaya's enterprise communications server Avaya Aura. It also supports Comtel room-based conference phone systems.

Avaya says it plans to continue migrating features from its Aura enterprise platform to IP Office. "Everything we do in the high end will end up in that environment as well," says Alan Baratz, senior vice president for Avaya and president of Avaya Global Communications Solutions.

Read more about voip & convergence in Network World's VoIP & Convergence section.

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