Avaya and DiVitas forge dual-mode fixed-mobile convergence partnership

IP PBX and unified communications vendor Avaya announced a deep partnership with DiVitas, a developer of dual-mode fixed-mobile convergence technology. The partnership involves product integration and go-to-market cooperation

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Avaya has named DiVitas as its preferred dual-mode fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) partner and is introducing tight product and go-to-market integration.

DiVitas has been integrated with Avaya Communication Manager, Avaya's flagship IP PBX product, since it joined Avaya's DevConnect partnership program in 2007. This week, the two companies announced integration with Avaya's Modular Messaging technology and projected that DiVitas would be integrated with Avaya's Intelligent Presence server by the end of the year.

The integration with Modular Messaging will allow end users to manage corporate voicemail on their smartphones. The integration with Avaya's presence engine will be critical -- most industry experts believe that presence is central to delivering value with unified communications.

DiVitas president and CEO Vivek Khuller said his company's partnership with Avaya extends beyond simple product integration.

"We've also worked quite well together on go-to-market initiatives," Khuller said. "We've signed up some of Avaya's top global [channel] partners."

Avaya senior product manager Phil Klotzkin said Avaya has had success offering cellular-only FMC, but he said some customers need dual-mode products like DiVitas.

"We looked at developing it ourselves, and we looked at companies in the market today," Klotzkin said. "We looked at feature sets, scalability, maturity and global support, which were huge requirements for us."

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Dual-mode FMC products are critical to companies whose workers are extremely mobile within a corporate campus, Klotzkin said. They may make about 95% of their calls during the day while on a corporate campus but away from their desk. Companies whose offices have poor cellular service often turn to dual-mode FMC as a solution.

"The problem with the dual-mode thing is that it's a really small part of the FMC picture," said Michael Finneran, principal of consultancy dBrn Associates. "It certainly has great appeal, but it just hasn't caught on."

Finneran said that the majority of enterprise wireless LAN deployments are still not voice capable. Most legacy wireless LAN deployments cover only a shallow portion of enterprise campuses. A true dual-mode FMC deployment requires a wireless LAN that covers an entire corporate campus so that users can move freely without losing their signal.

"[Dual-mode FMC] does not yet have the broad appeal that everyone expected it to have a few years ago," Klotzkin said. "But there are plenty of verticals and customers who need it, and when you find that dual-mode need, nothing else will do. Our customer CSX has been looking for dual-mode for years. They have these people wandering their facilities, and nothing gets them down to one device with connectivity everywhere except for dual-mode."

The range of available dual-mode handsets also continues to hold back dual-mode FMC, Finneran said. DiVitas, like its rivals, supports a broad range of Nokia smartphones and several Windows Mobile devices, but there is still no support for BlackBerry on the dual-mode FMC market.

"That's the most popular smartphone," he said, "and no one is going to give up [a] BlackBerry for a [Nokia] Symbian or, God forbid, a Windows Mobile device."

Until Research In Motion (RIM) opens up dual-mode voice APIs to third parties, dual-mode FMC will remain a small market, Finneran said. He pointed out that RIM's much heralded BlackBerry Storm has no Wi-Fi functionality at all. Apple's closed platform for the iPhone is another sticking point. The iPhone allows for dual-mode data connectivity, but voice is still off the table.

Avaya's partnership with DiVitas follows an increasingly cozy relationship between Cisco Systems and DiVitas' principal rival, Agito Networks. This new partnership sets up two of the top vendors of unified communications and IP PBX technology with solid dual-mode FMC stories. Avaya's Klotzkin said that his company's partnership with DiVitas was in the works before Cisco and Agito tightened their relationship and was not a response to Cisco's moves in the market.

"We were most interested in being able to go to customers able to extend cellular and dual-mode [FMC]," Klotzkin said. "We were pretty agnostic, and we started this process before that alignment."

Also, Agito and the lesser-known Varaha Systems continue to be part of Avaya's DevConnect program. And Finneran pointed out that Varaha will be demonstrating its technology within the Cisco booth at this year's VoiceCon show, so Agito's relationship with Cisco is clearly not exclusive.

Agito's relationship with Cisco runs a little deeper than just its current partnership, however. Agito's co-founder, marketing vice president Pejman Roshan, was a longtime product line manager at Cisco, and the company boasts several former Cisco employees among its sales and engineering ranks.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Editor

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