Avaya gives UC promise for ex-Nortel systems

The disintegration of Nortel Networks in 2009 left several hundred organizations around the world wondering about the future of their telecom systems after the enterprise division was sold to Avaya Inc.

On Tuesday customers with the Nortel-based Avaya Communications Server 2100 and SL-100 systems learned that they will have a path to advanced telephony features thanks to the extension of a deal Avaya has struck with Genband Inc.

Genband, which picked up Nortel’s carrier equipment division, has had an agreement to support the CS-2100 and SL-100 lines for some time because they are based on the Nortel carrier technology.

But the extended deal assures customers they will be able to upgrade to Genband’s unified communications technology by including a roadmap with coming enhancements.

“We didn’t have any ability to get new software upgrades, new gateways, new products,” said Richard Travis, senior product manager for Avaya’s CS-2100 line.

Customers could get technical support but no new solutions.

“Under the new agreement we now have access to new Genband technologies in software, in hardware gateways, (Genband’s) A2 Communications Application Servers, mobility clients and stuff like that.”

This means CS-2100 and SL-100 customers will soon have access to SIP-based capabilities including voice-over-IP over mobile phones, instant messaging and video collaboration, some of which comes from Avaya’s Aura unified communications platform.

In exchange, Avaya will share some of its intellectual property to help make Genband carrier products more enterprise-enabled.

The roadmap says a software release in the first quarter of next year will give CS-2100 and SL-100 customers enhanced mobile VoIP cpablilites. Future releases will add more capabilities.

A key part of the deal is that Genband completely takes over responsibility for the CS-2100 and SL-100, which are carrier-grade communications systems used by government departments, hospitals, financial services companies and universities expecting virtually zero down time.

That kind of ruggedness isn’t Avaya’s sweet spot, Travis said. Avaya is more focused on its Aura unified communications platform.

According to Andy Asava, Genband’s senior vice-president for enterprise sales, integrating software from his company with the CS 2100 won’t be a big challenge. For example, he said, the CS-2100 software has a lot in common with his company’s C20 Converged Softswitch, so all that is needed is some application code from Avaya.

Genband has been making carrier equipment for years, with some 600 customers around the world including Rogers Communications Inc.

Earlier this year it began branching out into the enterprise.

The promise that CS-2100/SL-100 customers will be able to take advantage of unified communications is important, Asava said. Those organizations “wrote a lot of zeros to buy this technology” and they want it to last years longer.

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