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Avaya Targets SMEs With Newest IP Telephony Offering

Avaya has launched a new version of IP Office, the company's telephony product that targets small and medium enterprises. The 6.0 version adds new unified communications capabilities, including instant messaging and presence. It also supports video-conferencing. Avaya also says it has made design changes that reduce the price of the product by up to 30 percent, which they hope will attract small businesses.

IP Office 6.0 supports IP phones as well as virtual phones that run on a PC or laptop. Applications include a browser-based thin client feature, Avaya one-X Portal, that gives users remote access to the system. New Avaya one-X Portal features include instant messaging, embedded voice calling and presence tools. Browser support includes Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. The 6.0 version also introduces audio-conferencing for up to 64 parties per call. Conference-call organizers can view, add, drop and mute attendees, as well as record conference calls. A new IP Office Video Softphone application lets users make video calls using a "virtual phone" on a PC or laptop.

The new version fills a void that Avaya has had at the low end, says Rob Arnold, senior analyst at Current Analysis. He says previous versions of the product were not price-competitive in the sub-20-user space. "It's more or less an 'office in a box' with integrated functionality, as opposed to the enterprise level where the applications are separated out," he says.

Avaya redesigned the product to reduce costs specifically to attract those smaller businesses, says Joe Scotto, director of product and solutions marketing at Avaya. For example, while version 5.0 was configured via a flash card, version 6.0 has additional software and intelligence in the hardware, with the software delivered via an SD card. Sotto says this change reduced costs from $795 to $50 per device. Similarly, where organizations used to buy separate cards for digital, analog and IP devices, the system now has a combination card that consolidates those devices.

Avaya hasn't ignored larger businesses in the new release. The system's capacity has been doubled from 500 to 1,000 users. As many as 384 users can be supported per server. For organizations with multiple sites, up to 32 IP Office systems can be connected. The new version also adds voice messaging and auto attendant to its rollover capability, so if one site fails, calls automatically are routed to an IP Office server on another company site. Avaya IP Office 6.0 is sold via the channel. The software ranges from $89 to $169 per seat.