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11/16/2007
03:38 PM
Melanie Turek
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Notes from Boston: Avaya's Analyst Conference

Avaya threw a party this week, inviting more than 100 analysts worldwide. During the show, the vendor highlighted the release of OneX Mobile, the mobile client for UC applications and new Unified Communications Editions packages.Avaya threw a party this week, inviting more than 100 analysts worldwide to meet, greet and eat in Boston over two days of keynotes, breakouts and one-on-one meetings. Plus, we got to see Todd English cook (the demo was fun, the food less so, but thats for a different blog).During the show, the vendor highlighted two key products in the UC arena:

  1. The release of OneX Mobile, the mobile client for UC applications.
  2. New Unified Communications Editions packages, eliminating one (Professional) and delivering more in the others.
The OneX Mobile client will be attractive to road warriors mainly for the telephony features that mimic those of a desktop phone. It also offers the potential for significant savings on cellular minutes (via lowest-cost routing and other neat tricks). But conferencing capabilities arent due until at least the next release, making it not so much a unified communications client as a landline extension client. Still, it looks good, and its free with Avayas Unified Communications Standard Edition, so who can quarrel with that?Speaking of those Editions, say goodbye to the Professional version, launched last year. Avaya now offers three flavors: Essential, Standard and Advanced. All three now include speech access (to help the company leverage its above-par speech access technology in the face of competitors offerings), and Standard and Advanced support the video that used to be available only in Professional (video conferencing, in case you havent heard, is the hot communications technology, redux).The Essential Edition is an entry-level option for new Avaya customers (existing customers presumably have all it includes already), and despite the name, it is not a UC offering; its VoIP with related capabilities (unified messaging, personal assistant, find-me/follow-me) thrown in. Avaya is trying to move the bulk of its customers onto the Advanced Edition, which includes a virtual laundry list of features, including integration with Microsoft and IBM UC products, presence, and the option to deliver functionality to users via any of four clients (thick, thin, mobile and OCS or Sametime). But technically its not a full UC offering either, because it does not include audio conferencing (although it does support the now-seemingly-universal 6-way calling) or web conferencing. For those, customers must deploy the Advanced Edition.Prices arent cheap for the bundlesEssential lists for $315 for 1,000-plus seats; add $142 for Standard and another $100 for Advancedbut they do deliver significant savings over buying the applications on an a la carte basis. The company also charges a comparatively high 21% annual maintenance fee.How much success the company has with these bundles remains to be seen. The first set was announced a year ago, and have been generally available since April, but by all accounts have received very little uptake among Avayas customers, new or old. Furthermore, several Avaya reps told me that they still see most companies planning to deploy UC on a stepped basis, deploying one component at a time over a period of several years (first VoIP, then maybe IM and presence, then on-premises conferencing, for instance). Those customers could conceivably benefit from the Editions packaging and still not opt to deploy them for initial cost and priority reasons.

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