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1/10/2012
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Avaya's IP Office Takes UC Mobile

With version 8.0, Avaya extends its communications platform for SMBs to iPhone and Android and adds server-less deployments for faster setup and lower hardware costs.

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Avaya on Wednesday released IP Office 8.0, extending a fuller version of its unified communications (UC) platform for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to Android devices. The company said iPhone support will soon follow.

The new "one-X Mobile Preferred for IP Office" essentially puts the IP Office experience on the smartphone: Users can manage conference calls, send and receive instant messages on the corporate network, update their status, and more—all pretty much as they would if they were in the office.

"One of things we're seeing in the SMB space is the ever-increasing importance of mobility," said Joe Scotto, Avaya's director of small and medium enterprise marketing. "[The new application offers] the ability to take what is typically done at the desktop and extend it out to the mobile device."

Corporate contact lists, geo-presence information, and visual voicemail are among the other capabilities now available on Android phones. Scotto said that while business users have expected basic UC features on their smartphones for some time, the Preferred application is the most complete mobile experience yet. The Essential Mobility application includes basic call management capabilities for iPhone, Symbian, and Windows Phone users. Scotto said Android and BlackBerry users will get access to that app in the first quarter of this year.

Following the May 2011 release of IP Office 7.0, the newest version also introduces a new server-less option for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. The C110 UC Module, which Avaya will bundle with its Preferred Edition, replaces a server-based deployment with a single slot card for the purpose of shrinking installation times and hardware acquisition and maintenance costs.

"It makes UC more accessible and simpler for the SMB," Scotto said. "With that card, they now can get those same kinds of capabilities that larger businesses have and not have to manage or maintain additional infrastructure."

A server-less install should take 30 minutes or less, according to the company, compared with a two-hour setup for a Windows server. That's also intended to help Avaya's partner base improve installation efficiency. Small businesses--particularly those that already eschew internal servers--could see the real gain in having less hardware to maintain. While the card option won't scale beyond 50 employees, Scotto hinted that a pre-packaged appliance deployment for SMBs with larger staffs is in the works.

IP Office 8.0 also continues to build out its ecosystem to play well with non-Avaya applications, in part to increase its appeal to SMBs with integral ties to other platforms. Examples include new plug-ins for Microsoft Outlook and Salesforce.com users. The latter enables workers to make and receive calls from any Salesforce.com page. Outlook devotees, on the other hand, can view and manage their IP Office visual voicemail from inside their inbox. Version 8.0 also boasts federated presence with Google Talk.

"If a customer already has investments in Outlook and Salesforce, we want their user to be able to have that option to communicate," Scotto said. "If they choose to communicate via the browser-based one-X portal application that Avaya provides, or the preferred mobility application, great. But if they happen to be in Outlook or Salesforce.com and want to communicate from within that application, we've got plug-ins for that."

Get lessons from five companies on the front lines of implementing unified communications. Also in the new, all-digital supplement of Network Computing:Mike Fratto on how to make the case for UC. Download the supplement now. (Free registration required.)

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