Facing an uphill battle – $6.1 billion in debt and $303 million in cash at the end of March – Avaya has come out swinging with a series of software and cloud-based announcements that includes a scaled-up IP Office (v9.0) that can now support double the users (2,000), Avaya Messaging Service, and Aura Collaboration Environment, which will feature an app (content) store. “We’re making a significant announcement both in the midmarket and enterprise,” said Mark Monday, VP and GM of Collaboration Solutions, Avaya.
Primarily known for its telecom roots, Avaya has over 300,000 customers, including more than 95% of the Fortune 500. For the third fiscal quarter of 2013, revenue was $1.15 billion; fiscal 2012 revenue was $5.17 billion.
With that huge installed base, the most important thing we have to do is keep our customers happy, said Monday. “We need to build products that delight our customers.”
It appears that the company has been doing that, according to recent studies. IDC named it a leader in its Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) 2013 Vendor Analysis. It was recognized for its ability to address a wider set of customer challenges and for its unique approach to UC&C through Avaya Aura, which leverages SIP architecture to simplify networks and connect users at every location.
Gartner ranked Avaya in the Leaders Quadrant in its most recent Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, for the 5th consecutive year. While both Avaya and Siemens Enterprise Communications, now known as Unify Communications, made the Leaders category, Gartner said the UC market is dominated by Cisco and Microsoft.
There are a number of moving parts to the announcements, said Monday, including simplified and centralized licensing, additional multitenancy capabilities and a greater focus on empowering partners, ISVs and customers. Avaya will continue to develop snap-ins for different needs, i.e. workflow, that will be available through a content store, but this store will also be open to developers.
“We want to enable ISVs… to have a place where we can certify their application and give them a marketplace to sell them. That will be taking place over the next six months. It’s kind of when they come, we will have it ready.”
We’re living in the age of apps for personal use, and enterprise apps are rapidly becoming just as essential, said Zeus Kerravala, Principal Analyst, ZKResearch, in a prepared statement. “Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment delivers on the promise of enterprise apps today, making communications enablement simple, flexible and cost effective, and fully integrated with Avaya Aura’s enterprise-grade architecture.”
According to Frost & Sullivan analyst Michael Brandenburg, with AMS Avaya has seen to it that text messaging, which has been largely ignored or relegated to niche verticals, is now a solid communications avenue for businesses of all sizes. “More importantly, Avaya is offering it in a way that businesses can actually manage.”
The cloud-based service enables short message services to be associated with corporate direct-in-dial (DID) numbers and reestablishes the traditional separation between work and personal communications, and re-enforces the users’ professional and personal personas. “By design, messages related to work exist in a dedicated Avaya app, rather the device’s built-in SMS app.”
Brandenburg said AMS enables businesses to set retention and archive policies to adhere to corporate or regulatory compliance. “Ultimately, AMS addresses a gap in the unified communications stack that most of us even didn’t recognize was there, and does so in an elegant over-the-top approach.”
Taken private by Silver Lake and TPG Capital LP back in 2007 for $8.4 billion, Avaya was apparently in talks with Oracle earlier this year about a possible acquisition, instead of going public once again. Instead of being acquired, at the start of October Avaya announced it had acquired ITNavigator, a provider of cloud, social media, reporting and management solutions. The addition is expected to bolster its Contact Center solutions for interaction, experience and performance management as well as expand its Collaborative Cloud portfolio with cloud-based social media, end-to-end management and unified reporting.
Under The Hood
Avaya IP Office 9.0:
-scales to 2,000 users (previously 1,000 users) at up to 32 locations;
-adds virtualized software as an option;
-IP Office Web Manager for Server Edition provides a consolidated management view of a multi-site IP Office solution through a one-time log-in to a single URL; and,
-support for multiple branch office deployment options: standalone, independent branch or connected to the Avaya Aura network in distributed and centralized branch modes while being managed by Avaya Aura System Manager.
Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment:
-applications deployed are automatically scalable, highly available and secure;
-applications are cloud-ready – Collaboration Environment is completely virtualized;
-a snap-in model enables rapid, more cost-effective solution development and repeatability;
-a common set of methods are used for voice, video, email and SMS; and,
-a cloud-based development environment – Avaya Aura Collaboratory — allows developers to build and test applications on a virtual instance of the Avaya Aura platform.
Avaya Messaging Service (AMS):
-real-time mobile collaboration and communications via the cloud for any size business, using any vendor’s platform;
-extends SMS (short message services) messages to and from smartphones, tablets, notebooks and desktop devices; and,
-by flowing the messages through a corporate network, AMS brings the same level of security, compliance and quality companies expect in email to the world of text messaging.