On Monday, Avaya upgraded IP Office, its flagship IP-PBX for small-to-medium sized enterprises, to version 6.1, adding Linux, accommodating Nortel users, and taking a number of other steps to simplify IP Office deployment and multi-site management.
A big push in this release was to reduce the time to install IP Office and improve IP Office's suitability for distributed SMEs - long two criticisms of the product. In an effort to simplify deployment, the company has consolidated its IP Office Core Services onto a single DVD, reducing installation times of the telephony applications from two hours to half-an-hour. Avaya has also reduced the cost of deployment by shipping Linux on the DVD. The Microsoft environment, however, will continue to be supported.
By supporting Linux, Avaya will enable IT to deploy IP Office more rapidly in larger, more distributed organizations. To manage those implementations, resellers and IT will require the new multi-site management capabilities being included in the new release. Prior to version 6.1, IP Office implementations had to be managed individually with the IT manager logging into each office to view and manage the communications parameters. It was a major distinction that separated IP Office from Avaya's Communications Manager that targeted the enterprise. Now, SMEs can manage up to 32 sites as a single system image with one login and one console to view and make changes throughout the entire network. All features will continue to function as an a single image except for Avaya's Customer Call Reporter (CCR), which allows supervisors to track and measure the performance of call center agents.
Avaya also addressed the needs of knowledge workers and contact center managers in the new release. There's also a new interface to Avaya one-X Portal for IP Office, a Web-based desktop communications interface for home-based, mobile and office workers. The new interface features drag and drop application gadgets and lets users manage calls, instant messages and e-mails from one PC-based portals. Resellers can skin and brand the portal with the SME's business name.
There's also expanded video capabilities. In line with what we saw with the Avaya Flare announcement, Avaya IP Office 6.1 pushes the video angle adding advanced multi-point HD videoconferencing with up to four parties. IP Office 6.1 can also now integrate video with select third-party phones, namely the Polycom VVX and the Grandstream GXV3140.