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Avaya Updates UC Suite

With the release IP Office 6.0, Avaya seeks to bring unified communications within reach for cost-conscious small businesses.

(This story originally appeared on InformationWeek SMB.)

Avaya released the latest version of its unified communications (UC) suite for SMBs today. The new version, IP Office 6.0, brings Web-accessible desktop communications tools to Avaya's UC offering. Though the provider has doubled multi-site network support capacity to scale up to 1,000 users, Avaya's target for the updated UC suite is truly small businesses - Avaya claims that IP Office 6.0 makes UC 40% more affordable for businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

Though individually small, sub-20 employee businesses comprise more than 90% of small businesses worldwide according to IDC and some indications point to spending by that multitude. The great recession continues to keep spending tight, but the recent Forbes Insights/CIT report: US Small Business Outlook 2010 found that 60% of SMBs expect revenues to grow coming out of the recession and 78% believe that they will need to find new ways to take advantage of market opportunities. With this offering, Avaya hopes to be well positioned to provide those recovering SMBs with a place to spend is presenting IP Office 6.0 as a means to seize opportunities for increasingly distributed workforces of teleworkers, mobile workers, and office workers.

"With Avaya IP Office 6.0 in place, small businesses don't have to sacrifice easy, intuitive operation in order to get the enhanced communications features of large enterprises," said Avaya's Anthony Bartolo, general manager, small and medium enterprise (SME) communications. "Our latest version provides SMEs with all of the next generation collaboration tools necessary for competing more effectively today against peers and larger competitors -- and for thriving as the economy recovers."

The introduction of IP Office 6.0 includes include enhancements to Avaya one-X Portal for IP Office, the aforementioned Web-accessible desktop communications tool that allows users to manage communications from any location using a VPN and a PC/phone combination. The new release offers a number of features intended to boost the speed and responsiveness of inter-office communications among co-workers including fully-integrated instant messaging with embedded voice-calling capabilities, presence icons, access to company directories, audio conferencing for up to 64 parties per call with options to view, add, drop, and mute attendees as well as record. The suites' new video capability is offered via the IP Office Video Softphone, a virtual phone that runs on a PC or laptop and can support basic visual communications for video presentations. The multi-site network offers business a measure of disaster recovery assurance with continuity tools that allow access to telephony as well as voice messaging, auto attendant, and other features in the event of an outage.

Though he touted the features of the new suite, Avaya's Bartolo was also keen to point out updates to the purchasing process. "Most [SMBs with less than 20 employees] don't have an IT department often and don't' have IT savvy so it [UC] could be a confusing purchasing experience," he said. "We've simplified the steps to decide the platform and phones, the collaboration package, and the type of end-user behavior you want to accommodate. In our research we found that a lot of products forced a customer to change their environment, but we think the product should fit in to the process that made that biz successful in the first place so we've tried to make it simpler for the customers by talking to them in their language and removing communication jargon."

Pricing for Avaya IP Office 6.0 starts at approximately $2,500 for five users, $4,300 for 10, $6,300 for 15, and $7,100 for 20.

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