Though its just a point-version upgrade, Avaya says this is a major update that brings its product up to the mid-market.

Avaya more than doubles number of users supported by IP Office

In a sign of the importance of the small and medium business market, Avaya Inc. has increased the number of users supported by its IP Office unified communications suite and added new central management capabilities.

The company said Tuesday that version 8.1 will scale up to 1,000 seats in a single location, up from 384.

It’s also centralizing management of multiple IP Office implementations across several locations into one administrative tool to make things easier for managers. Combined with the addition of embedded SSL-VPN capabilities, the new centralized management makes it easier to push out updates to remote IP Office users.

Another change is making connectivity for its Flare Communicator mobility application for Apple iPads and Windows laptops available to IP Office users. Until now the app could only be used by large enterprises through Avaya’s Aura UC suite.

Although a point release, Petrina Wong, Avaya Canada’s director of SME channel, called it a major update.

“Going up to 1,000 users really puts this into the mid-market range where previously we were aimed at the 300 to 350 mark. Now we have an end-to-end solution” including networking and security, she said.

IP Office competes with Microsoft’s Lync UC suite as well as Mitel Networks’ Unified Communicator Advanced, ShoreTel Inc.’s Unified Communications platform and Cisco System Inc.’s Unified Communications Manager.

Wong also said that version 8.1 introduces a significant change to IP Office’s support. The company will now offer through its solution providers the ability to buy an annual maintenance contract that includes software updates and Avaya technical support.

Previously upgrades were an extra cost, while solution providers and integrators provided support based on a number of hours.

Under the new model organizations can buy one, three or five-year maintenance packages for between $350 and $400 a year depending on options. One option is a next-business-day replacement for defective parts.
Customers have a choice of getting level one to four support from Avaya, or level one to two support from partners and level two to four support from the manufacturer.

Avaya believes the cost to the customer of the new model will be only slightly more than the previous one, said Wong.

More importantly, she said, it should lower the overall total cost of ownership.

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