This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of Unified Communications magazine.
Avaya is among the leaders in the unified communications space. Unified Communications (News - Alert) magazine recently interviewed Steve Hardy, director of product and solutions marketing at Avaya to talk about what’s new and what’s next in the area of UC.
Hardy: We offer a complete suite of unified communications and collaboration applications. That spans all the way from the tools and applications that an end user would use, such as audio Web conferencing applications under our Avaya Aura conferencing product through applications that would reside on mobile phones, on PC desktops or on phones themselves. They all roll up into our one-X portfolio.
[Avaya also offers] the infrastructure and the more architectural elements that an IP organization would manage. Broadly they fall under our Avaya Aura portfolio. That’s our core telephony, presence, video and services elements that really orchestrate all the things that the end user would see.
What are the predominant trends in UC at this point?
Hardy: One of the biggest trends that we’re seeing is the rapid adoption of SIP and the increasing focus on what SIP or session management can afford the enterprise. SIP has been around as a standard for many years now, but it’s really starting to take hold in the enterprise – initially just from a trunking perspective as a way to reduce costs, but increasingly it’s becoming more broadly used to orchestrate those applications within the enterprise. One of the unique things about SIP, or session management within the enterprise, is the ability for any interaction, any collaborative experience to be multimodal, multimedia and originate on any device.
To what extent are businesses using UC today?
Hardy: Up to 75 percent of enterprises are in some way deploying or implementing unified communications capabilities. And I think what we’re finding is that the majority of enterprises are playing with some element of unified communications. They’re deploying instant messaging capabilities and extending it out to their telephony platforms. They’re deploying unified Web and audio conferencing capabilities. There are many different flavors that enterprises are experimenting with.
How has the arrival of the smartphone and the mobile data boom impacted UC?
Hardy: It’s only had positive effects on unified communications. The reality is that workers today are more mobile than ever and work on much longer. Nine to five no longer exists; we’re working early mornings, evenings, weekends – and a unified communications-enabled smartphone is a way to keep in touch with the enterprise whilst doing so in a secure fashion, in a cost-effective manner wherever you are, whatever time of day it is.
Can you give us an inkling of what Avaya has in the pipeline related to UC?
Hardy: One of the areas that we’re really focusing on will be around extending the breadth of our collaboration experiences. I talked a little about that unified conferencing, for example, bringing in all your Web conferencing and making it really easy for people to set up and communicate via conferencing capabilities.
We’re also really driving hard the idea of context-based [communications]. The idea is that any collaboration experience is really enriched when context-relevant information is brought along with it. A collaboration experience starts with a person, starts with the people, vs. starting with a document or an applet request. All of the history, the past interactions, the relevant context comes with them [in a context-based communications environment].
What’s next for UC in general?
Hardy: Session management generally will continue to be a critical component of unified communications, [and] certainly that idea of context will take hold. We’re seeing technologies like cloud-based solutions or UC and collaboration of services taking hold and being able to deploy open standards-based systems that interact with cloud services.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi