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‘From: No Jitter’

It’s the combination of the cloud, hardware
and software that makes Spark unique.

By now you know that Cisco held an event in San Francisco last week to dazzle and make us “ooh and ahh” with its shiny new toy – the Spark Board.

I won’t go into much detail on the specifics of the board, as No Jitter editor Michelle Burbick did a nice job of that in this post (see also, “Cisco Pushes Into Immersive Group Collaboration” and “Sparking Thoughts on Cisco Spark“).

The Spark Board has a strong value proposition as it can replace all of the other technology typically found in meeting spaces today; the conference room phone, video endpoint, PC under the desk, display on the wall and the myriad of cables can all be replaced with a single Spark Board. The touch interface combined with 4K display and unique VoiceTrack audio system for speaker tracking will raise the level of meeting effectiveness as some of the traditional pain points, like having to take pictures of a white board or having to figure out how to get a PowerPoint from someone’s laptop to the display, will no longer be there.

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Crippled Avaya needs to become better, stronger,
faster — just like TV’s iconic bionic man.

Remember the TV show “The “Six Million Dollar Man”? It started with intelligence director Oscar Goldman talking about how a $6 million investment could make former astronaut Steve Austin “better” than he had been before being crippled — better, strong, faster. Avaya is going through something similar, except we can plunk three more zeros onto the price tag.

Avaya needs to be better, stronger, and faster for sure, but it couldn’t do that with $6 billion in debt hanging over its head, as previously discussed on No Jitter. So for the past several months, the company has been trying to sell off different business units to pay off at least part of the debt. As No Jitter Editor Beth Schultz pointed out in yesterday’s news post, the company has $600 million in debt due this October. While it might have been able to hold off bankruptcy until at least 2018 when more would come due, it opted to go into Chapter 11 now.

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The ability to resell a pure cloud solution
managed by Zang is something that has been
largely missing from Avaya partners’ toolkits.

[Editor’s note: For breaking news on Avaya’s financial situation and bankruptcy filing, see “Avaya Ends Speculation, Files for Bankruptcy Protection.”]

About a year ago at Enterprise Connect 2016, Avaya rolled out its Zang cloud CPaaS (communication platform as a service) solution and simultaneously announced Zang Spaces, a team collaboration tool built on the Zang Cloud (see, “Avaya Steps Up its Platform Game“). Since then, even as the parent company scrambles to fend off going into bankruptcy, it appears the folks over at Zang have been zinging along with development efforts as it now offers a UCaaS solution called Zang Office.

Zang Office is a designed to be an affordable, cloud-based phone service that is easy to set up and has features required for companies with fewer than 250 users today, scaling to 1,000 users in the near future. Customers can sign up online and choose from one of three packages: Basic, meant for shared spaces such as lobbies and conference rooms; Standard, targeted towards a typical, in-office user; and Power, designed to meet the needs of power users and remote users.

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Despite the hype around virtual working, people
still do meet in physical spaces to get stuff done.

Everyone loves a good rivalry. Red Sox vs. Yankees, Kirk vs. Khan, Lauren Conrad vs. Heidi Pratt nee Montag (yes, I love The Hills), Trump vs. Clinton… and, in unified communications, Microsoft vs. Cisco. These two UC leaders have been battling it out for years, giving rise to raging debates over which has the better voice, desktop, cloud, and mobile strategy.

While I’m sure the fighting will soon enough center on team collaboration and virtual meeting spaces — Cisco Spark vs. Microsoft Teams — more immediately it’ll be about the physical meeting space. Despite the hype around virtual working, the rise of millennials, and other similar trends, the fact remains that people still do meet in physical spaces to get stuff done. Also, businesses are building out a wider variety of places to meet. They’ve got their large boardroom-style rooms, as well as their huddle rooms, medium-sized conference rooms, open spaces, and almost any other kind of configuration imaginable. Truth be told, anywhere people meet is a meeting space.

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We saw it all this year, from cool product
developments to surprise corporate moves.

Innovation in every technology market ebbs and flows. In the UC industry, 2016 was a year of some big news events, with companies changing strategies, announcing new products, and making key acquisitions. Below are the 10 most notable things that happened in UC this year.

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