Avaya to Offer Skype Voice, and Eventually UCC, Functionality

Avaya and Skype today announced a two-part agreement geared to making the service provider’s SIP-based communications infrastructure available to the vendor’s business customers.

To date, Skype has been largely a consumer and small business service, though it is informally used by employees of organizations of every size. It’s very successful in that realm: The company claims that it averaged 124 million monthly connected users. The increasing prevalence and, in many cases, speed and quality of broadband connections make the essential Skype approach more viable for business implementations. Consequently, the firm is now turning its attention more fully to the corporate market.

The first phase of the companies’ work together will enable Avaya customers in the U.S. to use Skype Connect services to place outbound calls for free or at low rates through Avaya Aura Session Manger, SIP Enablement Server, CS1000, IP Office and BCM systems. Those capabilities, which will include enterprise-level security, tracking and regulatory features, are expected to be available next month, company representatives said on a conference call Sept. 29.

The next phase of the deal, which is targeted at the second half of 2011, features a deeper integration and interoperability between Avaya Aura and Skype that will extend to all forms of unified communications and collaboration (UCC). “Avaya is building into our products the support for the Skype application services starting with voice and eventually all the services – voice, video, IM, presence,” said Alan Baratz, the Senior Vice Present of Avaya and President of Avaya Global Communications Solutions.

Baratz, speaking during the conference call, said that a Skype Connect account will be necessary to access the embedded services. “We also are wrapping enterprise-level control and management around that so that our customers and their IT organization can manage the use of this service in the same way that they manage the use of any other connectivity service through the Avaya infrastructure.”

He added that the Skype option won’t change the pricing structure.

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