Avaya IP Office 8.0 to wean users from Nortel system

With the end-of-sale date of the Nortel-based Business Communication Manager telecom system coming up in a little less than two months, Avaya Inc., today announced the release of a new unified communication system aimed at small and medium sized business users.

Avaya says the IP (Internet protocol) Office 8.0 unified communications system will help small businesses simplify their mobile collaboration connections. Telecom analysts say the release is also meant to help SMB users “transition from” Nortel Network’s Business Communication Manager UC tool.

In 2010, Avaya purchased Nortel’s enterprise telecommunications business for $900 million. Last year, the New Jersey-based firm released IP Office 7.0, a system that can operate with Nortel phones.

“This new release is a very strong transition package for Nortel customers,” commented Jon Arnold, telecom analyst and principal of J Arnold & Associates, a Toronto-based independent IP communications research and analysis firm.

“With the end-of-sale for BCM looming in March, Avaya wants to make sure they can offer BCM users an alternative that will be backwards compatible with their Nortel IP phones,” he said.

“Part of the story here is that Avaya is working to consolidate its IP Office platform,” said Justin Jaffe, research manager for analyst firm IDC Corp. who specializes in SMBs, home business and remote workers.

“The big pull for SMBs will be IP Office 8.0’s expanded entry level platform and lower price of admission into UC,” Jaffe added.

Focus on mobile collaboration

The IP Office 8.0 highlights mobile collaboration because it is one to most sought after feature by SMb users, according to Laura Evans, director for SMEs at Avaya.

“As much as 60 per cent of workers in the SMEs own mobile phones and they want to use these devices to connect with colleagues and clients as well as access files and applications,” she said.

Evans said IP Office 8.0 will enable users to communicate with clients, co-workers and remote colleagues using their voice, email or text-messaging using their smartphones, IP phones or other mobile devices such as laptops and tablets.

 “The key here is seamless communication. Users can move a conversation from one device to another without dropping a call or losing connection,” she said.

The mobility application for IP Office 8.0, called one-X Mobile Preferred, enables users to access a comprehensive set of UC capabilities on Android compatible devices. Evans said, interoperability with iPhone will arrive in early 2012 and availability for Window Phone and BlackBerry OS are also forthcoming but no dates have been released.

Key features of one-X Mobile Preferred are:

Full multi-party conference management – users can set up voice conferences and group conferences
Integrated presence – users can display availability status to co-workers, indicate on mobile devices availability or show do-not-disturb messages and show availability on Microsoft Outlook
Instant messaging – users can locate co-workers through an integrated corporate directory and begin text chat with multiple co-workers
Geopresence – the system can display a user’s location. This is ideal for work teams in hospitals, hotels, companies or remote work situations
Visual voicemail –users can hear voice mail as they are being left on their machine and view them as well on their mobile devices

A lot of these features are available from other providers as well, according to according to Arnold of J Arnold & Associate. “But Avaya is enabling SMB users to take a step beyond telecommunication.”

For instance, he said, the integration with Outlook is a good move, “This shows that Avaya knows their market. Business users are always connected to Outlook. Even with the growing use of smartphones, many prefer to use Outlook.”

Lowering UC barrier

According to Avaya, the IP Office 8.0 will be available in the following price structure:

Basic Edition: $53 (basic telephony)
Essential Edition: $520 (IP telephony with essential mobility for all users)
Preferred Edition: $1990 (Unified Communications)
Advanced Edition: $2410 (UC with call center)

IP Office 8.0 supports five to 1,000 users and there are no additional licencesrequired for the base editions. The Preferred Edition has additional per user licences for things like IP phone capabilities and one-X Mobile Preferred, according to Avaya.

The Avaya IP Office 500 server retails for a list price of $650.

The simplified system and cost of the IP Office 8.0 system is another plus, according to Jaffe of IDC. Many small businesses are still grappling with how to use technology to boost the bottom line but many medium sized companies are prepared to take that first step into UC, he said.

The systems expanded feature set, its out-of-the-box integration and need for only one server makes IP Office very attractive to small organization he added.

“What really grabs me is the systems support for smartphones and other mobile devices. This really plays into the BYOD trend,” Jaffe.

Nestor ArellanoNestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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