Avaya expands cloud offerings

Avaya Inc. is getting deeper into the cloud provider business, which could also open opportunities for Canadian service providers.

The company said Tuesday that as part of its collaborative cloud strategy it will offer a range of services under the AvayaLive name, starting with Engage, the new name of its web.alive virtual conferencing platform.

Engage, which has only been available (under its previous name direct from Avaya and Canadian partners since its inception over a year ago, lets people separated by distance meet and converse in a virtual room.

But Avaya said it will soon by joined by Connect, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony service for small businesses with less than 20 employees. The only equipment needed is a PC running Windows XP or higher or Mac OSX. It will either be sold direct from Avaya or through service provider partners.

Initially available only in the U.S. starting this summer, Connect is in beta now. David Murashige, Avaya’s vice-president of business development, said it will be rolled out to other countries. “Canada is high on the list,” he said, but didn’t say when it will come here.

Connect will also be sold through select service providers. The first in the U.S. will be Level 3 Communications.

Pricing wasn’t announced. Murashige said Connect will be simple enough to be bought over the Internet with a credit card.

Also coming, he said, will be a virtualized public cloud version of Avaya’s Aura unified communications platform for service providers and value added resellers to build a communications service on.

No date was given for its release.

“We recognize customers and the reseller network are interested in the cloud from a communications perspective,” Murashige said. “What we’re trying to do is create a suite of services that allow large or small enterprises to access cloud services to fit their business model.”

Forrester Research analyst Henry Dewing said the announcement is an extension of a promise Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy made last year to make all of the company’s platforms cloud-ready.

The strategy will mean large organizations that have already invested in Aura will have a path to getting service through cloud providers, he said, but it isn’t clear how those with other telephony platforms could benefit.