After a long, hard winter, Avaya is set to spring back into the enterprise IP telephony market by declaring its entry into the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) software business with the introduction of a new portfolio of enterprise applications as well as a new strategic roadmap that it hopes will mark a new era of “Intelligent Communications.”
And to follow through on the new strategy, the leading IP communications provider is pulling out all the stops. It’s rolling out a huge marketing campaign that not only includes traditional advertising (print and online) but also as many as 120 events worldwide like a big presence at the Networld + Interop starting Monday in Las Vegas. It has also added a mix of guerilla marketing – outdoors on flatbed trucks or Times Square billboards – in order to “Debunk the Myths” that are plaguing the IP telephony market.
But Avaya’s new strategy also come at a time when stepped up competition by Nortel, Siemens, Alcatel and particularly Cisco has put severe pricing pressure on enterprise IP telephony solutions and services. That was clearly evident during the past two fiscal quarters when up to 70 percent of Avaya’s traditional services arrangements came up for renewal. Factor in the troubles the company has experienced in absorbing its Tenovis acquisition and it all added up to a less-than-stellar fiscal Q2 for Avaya.
So to gain more traction in the enterprise IP space, Avaya is hoping to carve out its own software niche by targeting enterprise communications functions as a business process to outsource – an emerging software category that the company calls “business communications applications” and estimates to be a $30 billion market by 2006.
“We're in the business of business communications applications,” said Lawrence Byrd, director of communications applications at Avaya. “SOA is quite a journey…This is part of our evolutionary strategy. We're clearly on that road and declaring our intent to be on that road.”
The centerpiece of the new strategy is the third iteration of Avaya’s Communications Manager and Converge Communications Server (CCS), both part of its flagship MultiVantage enterprise suite. As Byrd explained it, if SIP-enablement and 99.999 percent (so-called “five-nine”) availability were the hallmarks of an industry evolving to VoIP 2.0, then the latest iteration marks the beginning of VoIP 3.0.
“The delivery of intelligent communications…it’s about how communications becomes embedded into business processes,” Byrd told TMCnet during a recent telephone briefing.
Yet while Avaya’s foray beats many of its IP competitors to the punch, IT services companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Unisys have long eyed Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) as an opportunity sell their broad expertise to extend their reach. Depending on hardware and software platforms, there’s no guarantee those implementations will be built around Avaya solutions despite its legacy base. So, to announce its arrival in the BPO space, Chief Marketing Officer Jocelyne Attal is trying to raise the company’s profile with the marketing campaign.
“Avaya is the glue that connects people, applications and network,” Attal told TMCnet. But the challenge that Avaya faces, though, is many popular misconceptions hold back IP-based technology from making further inroads into the enterprise.
So then, what myths exactly are Avaya hoping to debunk?
The first myth is that IP isn’t just about voice packets transmitted across a network, explained Attal, who previously served as IBM’s vice president of the Websphere applications platform. It’s about a communications infrastructure that isn’t just real-time but what Avaya calls “right-time” with the ability to make the right choices.
Another myth is that any deployment will marry the customers to their data networks prohibiting a myriad of devices to operate across multiple-vendor networks. “This the background concept of open interoperability,” Attal said.
To facilitate that, the new CCS serves up a Web services-based applications programming interface (API) to integrate Avaya’s IP telephony software into the next generation of business communications applications across multi-vendor networks. To date, Avaya has 140 consultants, independent software development firms and alliance partners. The company is also stepping up its membership in OASIS, an industry organization developing standards for Web Services.
In addition to CCS, the new portfolio includes: a SIP-based softphone that also sews in IM and email capabilities; 3 lighter P2P versions of the softphone; the Avaya Application Assurance Networking solution; Avaya Meeting Exchange: Standard Edition (formerly “Meet Me Conferencing”); and the Avaya Integrated Management 3.0 for provisioning and security.
The third myth is migrating to IP will force customers to upgrade their hardware. Attal said that up to 85 percent of the network can be re-used in a deployment.
Avaya points out Meijer, a full service retailer based in Grand Rapids, Mich., with 160 stores, uses the new version of Communication Manager to deliver messaging and contact center applications to many store locations from its central headquarters and estimates IT costs have been reduced by 30 percent per location.
Robert Liu is executive editor at TMCnet. Previously, he was executive editor at Jupitermedia and has also written for CNN, A&E, Dow Jones and Bloomberg. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.