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This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

Adds enterprise-focused private cloud to ‘Powered By’
hosted and Zang pure-cloud options.

People love having options depending on their preferences or environment. Patriots QB Tom Brady always has a second play to run if his primary one isn’t going to work, I drive either my pick-up truck or car depending on where I’m going, and my kid likes to play some video games on Xbox and others on PlayStation.

When it comes to cloud communications, businesses are no different. Small organizations have different needs than large enterprises. A company that has a 10-year-old platform would be more open to a rip and replace than one that has a two-year-old system. Companies in regulated industries have more stringent security requirements than ones in verticals that don’t have the same compliance mandates. The fact is that no two businesses are the same, and their cloud needs will be different.

This week at Avaya Engage, the joint Avaya-International Avaya User Group conference, Avaya made a number of product announcements aimed at rounding out its cloud portfolio — and soon it will be able to offer businesses cloud communications in any flavor they want.

Private Cloud, ‘Powered By’ Avaya

Avaya has talked the talk of cloud for some time, offering private cloud options under the “Powered By” umbrella. In this model, Avaya deploys its on-premises Aura and IP Office UC&C platforms in a partner’s data center. Businesses get cloud-like capabilities, but not without a lot of heavy-lifting.

That said, moving the call control from the premises to a partner data center is a good way for businesses to get comfortable with the cloud delivery model without too much disruption. From a user perspective, nothing changes. For IT, all the tasks associated with running the infrastructure go away.

Zang: All Cloud

Obviously this model isn’t for everyone. Some businesses want a self-service option they can order as needed and pay for by the seat. This Avaya offers via a cloud-only service called Zang Office, now generally available for companies with fewer than 1,000 users. If you’re an Avaya customer and you haven’t heard about Zang Office, you will soon as the company has started formal Zang training with all its account executives and sales engineers.

Note, however, that a feature comparison between Zang Office and IP Office isn’t going to be apples to apples. Think of “Powered By” IP Office as being a full-featured phone system whereas Zang Office is more of a “light” version offering the basics that meet the needs of most organizations. For example, the Zang Cloud has no call center at this point (although it’s on the strategic roadmap in a product called Zang Agent), and no out-of-the-box integration with solutions like Salesforce or Office 365. We in the industry have been talking about Zang Office now for about a year, but it’s still a relatively new product and customers are just getting exposed to it now.

Enterprise Private Cloud

That brings us to enterprise-class companies. Until now, the only cloud option for these businesses had been the Avaya Private Cloud Service (APCS). Similarly to cloud-delivered IP Office, a partner hosts Aura.

Avaya could have chosen to offer Zang Office to this audience, but instead put an artificial limit of 1,000 users on it (see related post, “The Curious Case of Zang Office“). Instead, Avaya has introduced the Enterprise Private Cloud (EPC) service, which is a cloud-based version of Aura that it sells and manages. EPC isn’t about infrastructure efficiency; rather, it’s meant to give enterprises the ability to ask their Avaya reps for a cloud-based solution and for the reps to be able to respond, “How many seats would you like?” Procurement and deployment has gone from six months or more with APCS to almost instantaneous.

Why did Avaya choose this route? Aura is a world-class, feature-rich phone system with integrations into the Avaya call center, the new Equinox front end, and a number of other things that Zang doesn’t have today. It’s my assumption that as Zang Office matures, Avaya will offer an enterprise version that is closer to feature parity with Aura… but that’s likely years away.

BPO Cloud & Beyond

Another interesting piece of the Avaya cloud story is the BPO version Avaya announced earlier this week in partnership with contact center-as-a-service provider Spoken Communications. Think of this as a vertically specific version of a cloud communications system designed for the BPO vertical. Avaya could conceivably take this model into other industries as well.

With the addition of EPC, Avaya now has a cloud offering for any deployment model, including:

  • SMB wanting a hybrid or private cloud — Powered By Avaya IP Office
  • SMB wanting pure cloud — Zang Office
  • Enterprise wanting a hybrid or private cloud — Powered By Avaya APCS
  • Enterprise wanting pure cloud — EPC

On paper this portfolio offers businesses a range of choices that is as strong as any other vendor’s. One risk, however, is that while Avaya is doing the hybrid thing with Powered By Avaya, a pure-cloud provider could swoop in and sell to a line of business that eventually overrides the decision of the communications team.

For Avaya, and its customer base, the solutions make sense. But Avaya does need to be careful and watch what’s going on at accounts with other cloud communications services in use.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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