Avaya spells IT with IP

Finding a migration path towards the deployment of IP networks is a tall order that has many a corporation perplexed. In an attempt to take some of the confusion out of the process, Avaya Inc. has introduced a plethora of products that it claims will make it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to integrate voice onto a single packet-based network.

Last month, the Baskingridge, N.J.-based company launched its next generation of Enterprise Class Internet Protocol solutions (ECLIPS). Avaya explained that ECLIPS provides a logical migration path to IP telephony by enabling enterprises to retain existing telephones, common equipment and infrastructure. The firm says it will also unify network management, deliver functionality and reliability to the edge of the network and beyond and, through open standards, enable interoperability in the network.

“ECLIPS is a framework for an enterprise-class IP solution,” said Jorge Blanco, director of strategy and planning with Avaya’s enterprise and telephony infrastructure group. “What it does is take our software, marries it with our servers and gateways as well as our end points…and brings them all together into the context of a solution to deliver enterprise-class IP to our customers.”

According to Blanco, one of the most significant aspects of last month’s announcement was the introduction of the next-generation version of Avaya’s voice application software, MutliVantage. The software comes with call processing and contact centre functionalities and an application programming interface that supports a range of Avaya and third-party applications.

“Avaya MultiVantage is the software that is derived from the Avaya DEFINITY call-processing software, but it moves to the support of commercial operating systems, as well as being supported in a distributed call-processing model,” Blanco said.

Also included in the release is the Avaya Visibility Management software, which Blanco said is a series of system and management tools specifically designed for converged networks. Visibility Management offers things like VoIP network monitoring to allow customers to track the health of voice packets as they travel the network, he said.

Avaya has also introduced three new media servers and two media gateways as modular elements and applications that offer customers choice in configurations for both centralized and distributed business environments.

“The Avaya S8700 media server is a Linux server…as is the S8300,” Blanco said. “The S8100 runs Windows 2000. The idea with these is that they all have differences in capacity. The S8700 can scale from 200 users up to 12,000 users. The S8300 is an internal blade that runs inside of the G700 media gateway and scales from approximately 20 to 450 users. The S8100 scales from about 20 to 600 users on the Windows 2000 platform.”

According to Blanco, the G700 media server is optimized for IP environments, is a 2U rack-mountable gateway with four slots for blades and is likely to be leveraged primarily for the remote branch office of large enterprises. The G600 is a 19-inch rack-mountable gateway that accepts DEFINITY interfaces.

“For a customer that is not looking to become primarily IP-centric – 70 per cent or more of end points being IP – the G600 is the right solution,” Blanco said.

The company also introduced the next version of the Avaya IP Softphone, which brings full-featured telephony to any handheld device running the Microsoft Pocket PC operating system and enables mobile workers to implement system functions from anywhere in the world as if the were at their desk.

The IP Softphone for the Pocket PC has definitely peaked one customer’s interest. The University of Maryland in College Park, Md. is working to integrate the Avaya IP Softphone for Pocket PC with the university’s PinPoint location identification technology. According to Mark Katsouros, the university has been working on an emergency response undertaking and is looking at ways of rapidly deploying useful technologies at disaster scenes. The university has had a partnership with Avaya in place for some time, and the use of the IP Softphone for Pocket PC was really a no-brainer.

“A lot of people these days are running around with Pocket PCs and handheld organizers,” Katsouros said. “The nice thing about the IP phone is that it is already built into the organizer. It adds functionality, too. It is very robust as far as telephony goes and is feature-rich.”

Katsouros said that the emergency response project is a combination of deploying a wireless LAN and a command centre. The actual emergency workers will have Pocket PCs not only for voice communications but also, along with other technology provided by the university, the command centre will be able to see the workers as blips on a screen.

Avaya ECLIPS products are available now. For details and pricing, visit http://www.avaya.com.