SIP Magazine Publisher’s Outlook, Issue 2

Here is my second Publisher’s Outlook in issue number 2 of SIP Magazine. Hope you enjoy it. It doesn’t have a title yet. Possible options are Avaya boards the SIP train, Avaya SIPs its way to the top of the market (too corny), A SIP enabled phone on every SMB desk, Avaya’s SIP Strategy — Beat em by Joining them (referring to Cisco phones — if you have to explain it, it probably is a bad title.) Thankfully Greg Galitzine is better at writing titles than I. Take it away Greg:

The whole premise of launching SIP Magazine was to develop a place where the community of people who are involved in SIP development and deployment to go when they wanted to learn what is happening in the world of SIP. The purpose of this magazine is to provide analysis and perspective on the market while keeping you up to date on the latest news and announcements.

I get the feeling the timing of this publication was perfect as the last month has seen an explosion in SIP announcements and the excitement in the market is beyond my belief. I spent a good deal of time speaking of SIP with Industry icon Lawrence Byrd who is the Director of IP Telephony and Mobility Solutions for Avaya. The company is devoting significant resources to SIP and has a number of announcements that are related to session initiation protocol.

For example the New Jersey Based communications solutions company announced they will support a greater amount of SIP endpoints. For example Avaya supports interoperability with solutions from Juniper, Tello and Cisco. Yes, you read that right, Avaya now supports Cisco phones. To me this is akin to Larry Ellison inviting Bill Gates onto his yacht.

If you go back in the communications business long enough you remember when the phones made a lot of money for PBX vendors companies. Even though the SIP standard has been around for years, not all phones were fully interoperable with PBXs from other companies. Well it seems that Avaya is listening to customers craving interoperability and giving them what they want. This is pretty big new in my opinion and shows us that Avaya sees that money will be made on applications and a solutions ecosystem rather than just hardware.

The whole concept of Intelligent Communications – a term Avaya has been pushing as of late is to sell people on solutions and not simple PBXs with dumb devices hanging off hanging off the end. Byrd stated to me that mid-large organizations don’t want cheap phones that break as soon as they drop. Avaya continues to upgrade firmware and adds features such as encryption to their devices. They feel they can compete aggressively on functionality and price.

The company is further committed to SIP trunking and they are working with a number of companies such as AGN and AT&T to ensure that companies can directly connect SIP trunks to Avaya PBXs and take advantage of having the service provider terminate calls off net.

Avaya is also focusing on SOA and has worked with SAP to telephony enable mySAP CRM solutions. For more on SAP check out my High Priority column in the March 2006 issue of TMC sister publication Customer Interaction Solutions.

The company has also upgraded Modular Messaging to version 3.0 providing unified access to voicemails, e-mails and fax messages via phone or PC as well as integrating with SIP networking.

Perhaps the biggest announcement Avaya has made recently is actually its smallest. It isn’t a box or software but a simple telephone. If you have been following my articles over the past years you have no doubt heard me espouse the virtues of enterprise p2p solutions and Nimcat Networks solutions in particular. I reported that the company was purchased by Avaya months ago and I’ve been waiting patiently for the fruits of this acquisition.

The point of p2p technology in the enterprise is that you don’t need a PBX, just a phone that has all the functionality of a PBX built in. As you plug in more phones the devices auto discover each other and simulate a PBX regardless of location.

In my previous writings I have mentioned that the computer makers were eyeing this market carefully. Imagine a mail order computer vendor that offers such phones. They could offer a computer/phone bundle in fact so that small companies can get their computing and telephony at once. I further mentioned this was a competitive threat to the incumbent PBX vendors.

A number of months later, Avaya purchased Nimcat Networks. This was a brilliant move on their part.

This technology has been a part of the new line of products form Avaya called one-X Quick Edition. Avaya says this solution is perfect for offices of 10- 20 people and can expand to 100-150 people.

This is a also a great product for remote offices and has the benefit of phones that can be configured over the web meaning no dedicated IT people need to be on hand to install and configure the devices.

In addition the company has also launched the one-X Desktop Edition which allows users to have access to the capabilities of their phone, using their computer. Think of this as MS Remote Desktop for phones.

The last piece of the one-X pie is the Mobile Edition of this product suite. This technology allows the Nokia S60 family of phones to have access to Avaya Communications Manager software enabling users to be accessible via one business number and to have a single voice mailbox to check.

My take on Avaya’s announcements is that SIP and VoIP have transformed the company and breathed new life into their products and services. We are entering an era where communications is not about phones but about applications and Avaya has certainly capitalized on this shift in the market. Phones have been commoditized for many years but applications can transform organizations. Presence laden solutions that allow workgroups and entire corporations to respond more rapidly are the future of communications and Avaya seems to be happy supplying us with a healthy does of such products.

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