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10/16/2013
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Avaya Helps Developers Add Collaboration To Apps

Aura Collaboration Environment helps developers put teleconferencing, messaging and other collaboration services directly into business applications.

Avaya introduced Tuesday a cloud- and appliance-based collaboration system that allows developers to produce applications with collaborative elements embedded in everyday operations.

It says it's spent $2.5 billion over six years using its communications expertise to build the cloud and on-premises software system, the Aura Collaboration Environment.

The Collaboration Environment is designed to help application developers invoke messaging, chat, video and other streaming media, or other collaborative services, including services out on the Web, and build them into an application. The platform simplifies their addition by automatically applying the plumbing that allows the application to connect to the service when needed. It allows messages and alerts to move out to a variety of end-user devices as well.

As an example, Avaya VP and general manager Mark Monday said a developer might produce an application that checks sources of university data and reports on students who have not attended class or been present for exams. The Collaboration Environment could add a service that sets up a face-to-face teleconference appointment between the missing student and a counselor, in hopes of preventing the student from dropping out.

[ Want to learn more about how to really put mobile technologies to work? See Disruptive Technology: Follow Fight Club Rules. ]

Monday said the system can be used to generate new types of applications. For example, an application that monitors patients could automatically trigger a collaboration system among attending doctors if a patient's vital signs approached a critical point. Doctors could participate using a variety of mobile devices. The improved flow of information over a collaborative system has the potential to save lives, Monday said.

The same teleconferencing, chat and messaging systems can be added to business applications, providing in a more generic sense some of the capabilities of existing collaborative systems, such as Salesforce.com's Chatter.

The heart of the Collaboration Environment is software packaged on an appliance. The system understands many facets of enterprise communications and is able do the plumbing to make their services available to applications. Other parts of the platform include a cloud service with real-time mobile communications using any vendor's messaging system. SMS messages may be sent when triggered from the cloud platform to iPhones, Androids and other smartphones and tablets.

A third product, the Avaya Aura engine, supports different types of communications in both multitenant cloud and virtualized environments. It supports the use of up to 10 different devices assigned to one phone number. The capability gives doctors, researchers and other white-collar workers a greater capability of staying in touch with a group of collaborators.

Avaya has evolved over the last six years from a telecommunications hardware maker into a software supplier of telecommunications capabilities. It represents one of the larger investments in bringing embedded communication capabilities to a general-purpose software development platform. Tuesday's announcement of the new platform capabilities didn't include pricing information.

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