Avaya Brings Some 'Flare' to Unified Communications

By Sean Michael Kerner | Sep 16, 2010 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/Avaya-Brings-Some-Flare-to-Unified-Communications-3903856.htm

Unified communication (UC) technologies promise the ability to bring together multiple forms of enterprise communication to enable collaboration. According to Avaya, it's a promise that could use a little added "flare" when it comes to the endpoint user experience.

The telecom and telephony technology giant this week announced its new Flare experience platform as a way to improve the user experience with UC. The new platform includes both hardware and software and leverages the power of Avaya's Aura, which is a UC backend platform powered by Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP .

Avaya has been improving its backend UC platform in recent months with technologies acquired from its purchase of Nortel earlier this year for $900 million.

Now with Flare, Avaya's goal is to better differentiate its UC offering from rivals by further unlocking the potential of SIP, a signaling protocol used to start and manage streaming IP-based communications like VoIP, instant messaging and videoconferencing.

"Aura and SIP are the active enablers in the backend, but up until now, we haven't had the client or user experience that fully exploited the user intelligence that is in the backend," Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy said during the launch event for Flare.

Alan Baratz, senior vice president and president of Avaya Global Communications Solutions (GCS), explained as a result of Aura's basis in SIP, it can carry any type of traffic and can support all real-time collaboration needs. He added that what Avaya Flare thus can deliver is a true, "people-first" multi-session, multimodal voice, video, IM and real-time collaboration and user experience.

For its user interface, Flare uses a spotlight metaphor: Users simply drag contacts into the "spotlight" area on their screen in order to connect by any method they choose.

Baratz also noted that Flare provides the potential for contextual collaboration, so when a user opens a contact, they can look at their history of voice, email, IM and video collaboration with them. Flare also provides presence information for voice, video and IM availability, enabling users to see when colleagues are free to chat.

Integration with multiple forms of contact directories is also part of the Flare experience. Baratz noted that contacts can come from integration with enterprise directories, Skype, or Web 2.0 social networking services including Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.

In order to enable Flare, Avaya is rolling out a new piece of hardware, the Avaya Desktop Video Device, which provides an 11.6-inch display screen for HD video and voice collaboration. As well, Avaya will be adding Flare to its software clients for PCs and Macs as well as mobile devices.

According to Baratz, the goal is to have a similar collaboration experience across different devices.

Avaya is also debuting a hosted service called web.alive, which provides what Baratz described as a 3D, immersive collaboration environment. The service combines Web avatars as well as video for collaboration.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.