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Avaya Aura updates simplify midmarket, enterprise collaboration

Avaya introduces its new Avaya Aura collaboration environment, allowing enterprises to embed collaboration apps into business apps.

Avaya is now making it easy for enterprises and midmarket customers to integrate collaboration and communication applications into their business applications. The newly announced Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment, a software platform for enterprises and developers, will remove the complexities associated with adding social, mobile or cloud-based capabilities into critical applications.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor also announced its newly virtualized version 9.0 IP Office to  help small- and medium-sized businesses scale to reach more users at more locations, as well as its new enterprise messaging service, which improves employee SMS  communications by enabling one-phone number communications via text messaging on any mobile device or desktop.

Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment: Allowing developers to unify communications

The Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment, a new programming middleware that sits on top of the Avaya Aura platform, will enable Avaya users to add features -- such as voice and video -- into business applications. Developers can use the environment to embed collaboration, communications and contact center capabilities into any application or sequence of applications to extend the functionality of business applications, said Mark Monday, vice president and general manager of collaboration platforms for Avaya. The middleware also eliminates the need for developers to have specialized communications knowledge prior to building any applications.

"The Avaya collaboration environment opens up opportunities for third-party developers, but also enterprise customers -- they are the ones who are really interested in writing their own apps," Monday said. Avaya is practicing what they preach, and will also be using the Aura Collaboration Environment to write its own applications going forward, Monday said.

Avaya updated its IP Office software, version 9.0, doubling the number of users it supports to 2,000 distributed across as many as 32 offices. Avaya is also offering the platform as a virtual software product, freeing enterprises from investing in Avaya's proprietary hardware, Monday said.

Large enterprises can deploy IP Office 9.0 in smaller branch offices and manage it through the flagship Aura platform. "Avaya Aura users can now deploy [the software] into branches using IP office, which provides customers with a low-cost deployment model that can be centrally managed through Aura," Monday said. "IP Office is great for a small branch location where there may be less need for redundancy and lesser functionality needs than headquarters."

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IP Office fills a gap for many enterprises, said Michael Brandenburg, industry analyst at San Antonio-based Frost and Sullivan Inc. "It's a good fit for branches that are too big for previous versions of IP Office, but still not big enough for Aura," he said.

Cell Signaling Technology Inc., a Danvers, Mass.-based biotech firm, has been using Avaya IP Office at three of its five locations spread throughout the U.S. and Europe. As the company rolls IP Office out to its remaining two sites, IP Office 9.0 will also be deployed, said Carlos del Castillo, manager of IT Infrastructure for Cell Signaling Technology.

Cell Signaling currently uses IP Office in its call center, but it hopes for more seamless collaboration among its worldwide sites and better disaster recovery capabilities with version 9.0. "Being able to virtualize IP Office means we can have a backup of our main system, so if something were to happen, we can quickly move to the virtualized backup," del Castillo said.

The company's scientists who are doing antibodies research are now answering technical support calls routed through the call center. With IP Office 9.0 they will be able to take calls on the device of their choosing from any location, he said. "The scientists are always in the lab, not at desks, and need wireless devices to communicate with customers without having to run back and forth or carry multiple pieces of equipment."  

Avaya includes text messaging in the Enterprise Collaboration Environment

Avaya also introduced its Avaya Messaging Service (AMS), a cloud-based, pay-per-user messaging service that extends the same one-phone number functionality for multiple devices that enterprises are used to for phone calls, to texting. "Just like users don't have to give out their personal cell numbers anymore for business calls, now they won't have to for texting, either. The service brings an enterprise flare to texting," Avaya's Monday said.

Text messages can also be received on tablets and desktops, in addition to Apple, Android and Windows smartphones. The service also attaches enterprise security functionality to text messaging, such as archiving.  

"In a perfectly deployed UC [unified communications] environment, users have an office number that can ring to their mobile phone or desktop, but if someone preferred text messaging as a mode of communication, they'd have to give out their personal number," Frost and Sullivan's Brandenburg said. "The service fills a gap that no one really recognized existed."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.  

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