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AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

Posts Tagged ‘Avaya’

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Credit: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The Winter Olympics kicked off late last week in Sochi, Russia. Personally, I’m looking forward to my home country, Canada, bringing home the gold in ice hockey.

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Doesn’t it seem like the UC industry has been talking about a world of communications-enabled applications for over a decade now? This is where in-house developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) will drop UC features into business applications to create new business processes and the companies that build them get a significant jump on the competition. Almost everyone I talk to agrees this is what should happen and that the value is there if companies were to adopt it. But, as the old saying goes, if “ifs and buts were candies and nuts, we would all have a very merry Christmas.” So far, we haven’t seen the flood of communications-enabled applications under the old Christmas tree for the UC industry. Oh sure, every company can point to a cool app here and there, but it’s certainly not mainstream.

So why is this? Well, in my opinion, it’s too hard to build these things. For all the talk, the communication industry requires high levels of telephony knowledge and some experience with CTI to be able to build these. That means only the communication-savvy developers can do this, limiting the number of companies that even want to attempt to build these types of applications. A good analogy is the early days of the web. Before all these visual tools, the web was built on sites designed by developers that could code in raw HTML. Want to drop a box on the site? Well, go build one. If you want to bold a word, you don’t highlight it and click bold, but rather <b> bold this way </b>. The hardcore developers who worked with HTML day-in-and-day-out could build websites, but mass adoption really didn’t begin until web development got significantly easier.

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This week is the annual Enterprise Connect (formerly VoiceCon) conference in Orlando, FL.  One of the many panels I’m on and moderating at the conference is titled “UC? Mobility? FMC? BYOD? SIP Trunking? Video? WebRTC? It’s time to take control.”

The theme of taking control of the UC environment is a good one as it’s my belief that Unified Communications is getting more and more complex as the vendor community expands the definition and functionality of UC. 

At one time, telephony was simple: a PBX, a phone and cable.  Connect them up and you’ve got voice.  Troubleshooting meant checking the phone, cable or PBX.  However, that legacy solution was as inflexible as it was simple. 

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It’s hard to believe, but we’re almost at the end of 2012, which means it’s time to look ahead towards 2013. I wrote a predictions blog earlier that looked at a few trends, but I think there are a handful of companies worth watching next year. As you can imagine, some of them are smaller startups, but some are more established companies.

Magor

Located in Kanata, Ottawa, Magor doesn’t get nearly the same level of media coverage as the louder, more brash Vidyo, but the Magor solution is every bit as game changing, in many ways more so. Magor leverages the flexibility of SVC, desktop sharing and UC to create a unique collaborative environment. Anyone I’ve talked to who has used the solution based on “visual conversations” loves it. Magor’s challenge for 2013 is to raise the level of awareness so people don’t say “who?” when I ask them if they’ve tried the solution.

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This week Avaya held its reseller event, the Avaya Executive Partner Forum, in Cancun, Mexico. During the event the company highlighted some positive changes to its channel program and addressed some of the more controversial issues head on. Considering the number of new products that have come out of Avaya over the past couple of years, including new versions of Aura, IP Office, video, VSP 9000 to support the VENA architecture, wireless, collaboration pod, I really don’t believe product is an issue for Avaya anymore. The company must execute on its channel plans for growth, which will put it in a better position for an IPO in the future.

The most pressing issue Avaya and its channel partners face is growing network share. With all due respect to the excitement around video, cloud services and other hot markets, good old fashion networking is the key. If you look at the big buckets of IT spending, Avaya already owns about a quarter of the telephony share (give or take, depending on whose numbers you use), so gaining significant share there isn’t likely. Looking at the exciting video market, that market isn’t more than a couple of billion if you include infrastructure, end points and related items. If Avaya somehow miraculously took 20% share in that market, that’s equivalent to about $300M-$400M in revenue. However, just 5% of the $20 billion Ethernet switch market is $1 billion in revenue.

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Amid much speculation that Polycom was on the selling block, with HP being the primary possible acquirer, Polycom made the following announcements this morning:

  • Polycom acquired the Visual Collaboration Unit from HP, which includes all of the Halo products and managed services
  • Polycom and HP inked an agreement where HP would use Polycom as it’s exclusive partner for Telepresence and video UC solutions
  • Polycom announced the creation of the “Open Visual Communications Consortium” with a number of service providers including AT&T, BT conferencing, Global Crossing, Orange Business Services, Telefonica, Verizon and other service providers to drive B2B and B2C adoption of video
  • Polycom and Microsoft announced an expanded partnership that includes two products but at the time of press release did not announce any details on these products

These announcements are an interesting twist in growing saga that is corporate video conferencing.  About a year ago, Cisco closed on the acquisition of Tandberg creating a tremendous amount of speculation that Polycom would be acquired as well.  The logic being that, in an environment where video is becoming a core component of UC, it would be difficult for a video pure play to exist.  Names like Silver Lake (Avaya), Gore Group (Siemens) and Dell were tossed around as possible acquirers, but HP appeared to be the front-runner.  HP made some sense for a couple of reasons:  (1) It had its own niche video unit (Halo) and Polycom would bolster it; and (2) HP could use Polycom to close the product gap with Cisco, who HP appears obsessed with from a competitive standpoint.

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