Avaya Delivers IP Office 6.1 Communications Suite for SMEs

Less than a year ago, in mid-December 2009, Avaya announced its intention to acquire the assets of Nortel Enterprise Systems.

One month later, Avaya disclosed its roadmap for integrating Nortel’s communications technologies with its own product lines.

Yesterday, in announcing the release of version 6.1 of IP Office, its IP communications suite for small and medium-size businesses, Avaya delivered on a major portion of what that roadmap promised.

“We set out to consolidate all the platforms onto the IP Office solution,” Joe Scotto, Avaya’s global director of SMB marketing told Enterprise VoIPplanet.

“The idea was to integrate the best features and functions from the heritage Nortel portfolio—the BCM (Business Communications Manager) and Norstar lines—into the IPO platform,” Scotto said.

“Less than a year later, we’ve done that.”

According to Scotto, IP Office is a single product that serves the entire small/medium business market (albeit in three different “editions”). “It’s UC (unified communications) and CC (contact center) packaged for the SME segment,” he said.

The target market for IPO is offices with 5 to 250 users, although it can scale up considerably, allowing small business to “really grow with it,” Scotto pointed out. It maxes out at 1,000 users and 32 separate sites.

So, aside from Nortel integration, what’s new with version 6.1?

“What we’ve done with this release is we’ve enhanced a lot of the installabilty features,” Scotto told VoIPplanet. That is, they’ve consolidated all the application services onto a single DVD.

“Instead of taking about two hours, a typical install now takes about 30 minutes,” Scotto explained, pointing out that the quicker install lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Version 6.1, for the first time, also offers the option of installing on Linux, rather than Windows. Not only does this contribute to the reduced install time, it eliminates the expense of user licenses. At $60 or so a head, that’s another significant contribution to a lower TCO.

The one-X browser-based user interface portal has also benefited from some improvements. “It’s compliant with most of the major browsers [for both Windows and Mac],” Scotto explained, making communications a bit more pervasive across any kind of desktop.

The information panels (which Avaya has dubbed “gadgets) for current call or conference, call history, instant messages, and e-mail can be dragged and dropped according to the user’s preference. The “skin” (color scheme) can be changed, and the app can be custom branded.

IP Office’s call center functionality (included with the Advanced Edition of the product) has been upgraded with more statistics, reporting, and graphing capabilities—again, presented in a browser-based application.

Multi-site system management—although available in previous release of IPO—has been improved with a single aggregated graphical map screen that lets an IT manager see up to 32 geographically dispersed offices, dragging and dropping users or other elements among them.

Finally, the softhphone-based videoconferencing introduced in version 6.0 has been enhanced by integration with the Avaya 1040 Video Conferencing system—as well as systems from Polycom and Grandstream—to allow HD video conferences of up to four participants.

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