Avaya upgraded its Communication Enabled Business Process (CEBP) under the brand Avaya Agile Communication Environment (ACE) release 2.3, in the process essentially admitting that its initial attempt to incorporate Web services into PBX design was too much for many of today's business users. With the new release, Avaya is pushing three themes: tighter integration with Avaya Aura; enhanced integration with systems such as Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS), IBM Lotus Notes and Sametime environments; and greater control over communications sessions.
For years, telephony providers have sought ways to expose communication services to developers. Proprietary APIs have long existed, and early attempts at standards, such as TAPI from Microsoft, were noticeably voice-centric, requiring business developers to learn too much about the establishment, maintenance and tear-down of communication channels. Even the emergence of SIP was seen as being too low-level for most business developers.
Web services were expected to change all of that by providing a high-level interface to the communications platform. Avaya's initial introduction of CEBP was expected to enable developers to embed communications within business processes without understanding a lot about the underlying communications infrastructure. The technology met with strong reviews from the industry, but the technology failed to meet the needs of the heterogeneous environments of today's enterprise.
"In CEBP 1.0, CEBP was very complex," says Sajeel Hussain, director of Unified Communications for Avaya ACE. "Applications were tightly bound to the PBX domain limiting deployment in multiplatform, multivendor network communication system environments and limiting usage to devices connected to the PBX. The application would need to be re-written for each PBX integration, and significant maintenance work was needed to prevent the application from breaking with each new PBX release upgrade."
Typically, applications could not take control of the call or be introduced into the middle of a call set-up. CEBP 1.0 also required special telecom developer skills to contend with a vendor's proprietary and often platform-unique CTI protocols, thereby putting a barrier in front of the IT developer community.
Avaya says that it has addressed those issues with ACE. All packaged applications and Web Services ride on an Avaya Aura infrastructure, which is inherently designed for multi-PBX and multivendor deployments. What's more, applications are no-longer tied to the PBX domain, so applications can be rapidly introduced to all users across a multi-PBX, multivendor network.