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Avaya's acquisition of integration specialist Esna Technologies could force Cisco to find a different way to integrate its unified communications (UC) services into Microsoft Office 365.
Avaya announced last week that it had bought Canadian company Esna, which provides vendor-neutral communication widgets that can be embedded into business applications. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Esna has built its business around enterprises that use UC products from multiple vendors. The tools usually aren't tied together, so employees have to move between applications to get their work done. For efficiency, enterprises prefer to have communications built inside of the business applications employees use, said Gary Barnett, senior vice president and general manager of Avaya.
Esna provides integration for tools like Google Apps, Microsoft's Office 365, Jive and Salesforce.com. The company also has hooks to UC platforms from Mitel, ShoreTel, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and Cisco.
Esna had aligned itself closely with Cisco, an Avaya rival in the UC market, said Nemertes analyst Irwin Lazar. The partnership provided integration capabilities to Cisco UC products, such as WebEx, Jabber and telepresence systems.
"Cisco might be in a bind now because they just lost their means of integrating their telephony platform with Office 365," he said.
Given the uptake of Office 365, this could be problematic for Cisco. "There is no one else out there that does [integrations] like this," Lazar added.
Avaya insists it won't discontinue Esna integration tools supplied to other UC vendors. "We know that in addition to our infrastructure, we must also support other infrastructures," Barnett said.
Deeper UC integrations for Avaya
Avaya will provide deeper integration between its voice, video and instant messaging products and Esna technology. This will let users embed click-to-call or click-to-chat capabilities within their applications.
Avaya plans to introduce a Communicator extension that integrates the company's IP Office with Google Apps, Office 365, and Salesforce.com as early as next month.
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