As the number of enterprises with bring-your-own-device policies increases, it puts pressure on communications software companies to ensure their solutions aren’t blocked by restricted platforms.
That’s why Avaya Inc. has decided to broaden the availability of its Flare unified communication software for tablets.
On Tuesday it revealed Flare Communicator for Apple Inc.’s iPad tablets. Communicator is a light version of the company’s Flare Experience client for Avaya’s Desktop Video Device, which, for the time being, is only available on its Android-powered tablet for enterprises.
Avaya also said that Flare Communicator for Windows tablets will be added next year and possibly for other hardware after that. Meanwhile Flare experience will be extended later this year for iPads.
Unlike Flare Experience, Communicator can’t do video conferencing. But it will handle presence, instant messaging, voice conferencing, email and text.
“We really wanted an entry vehicle,” Tara Mahoney, Avaya’s Ottawa-based senior director of applications and soft clients explained in an interview. “Not all of our customers are deploying the full collaboration backend [of Aura],” she said.
iPad was chosen as the initial tablet platform for expansion because of its “explosive” growth in the enterprise, said Mahoney.
Organizations will still need Avaya’s Aura unified communications platform (version 6.1 and up) to make use of Communicator. The iPad application will be a free download from the Apple App store, but organizations will have to pay US$100 a user. However, there is an introductory offer of 50 free licences until April 30.
There is also special pricing for organizations to upgrade to a newer version of Aura.
Flare Communicator can take advantage of Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity, using a virtual private network to link back to the enterprise for security.
“It’s not meant to replace your desktop environment,” Mahoney said of Flare Communicator. But with more tablets coming into the enterprise Avaya needed another way to get its software on them. It already has its one-X Mobile suite for linking Aura to a wide range of smart phones.
It’s a clever move, said Ira Weinstein, an analyst at Wainhouse Research. Although Avaya has the ADVD, “they were discovering that people weren’t looking for another tablet.”
So “if you’re an Avaya shop, this is a big step forward.”
He doubts the company will abandon the ADVD, but Flare Communicator is a recognition that the value of Flare is in the software, not the hardware.
The disadvantage, he added, is that Communicator is a unified communications client, nor a video conferencing client like Flare Experience.
Avaya is also offering other bundles with special pricing to encourage use of the Aura platform. Customers with Aura 6.1 and up can buy an add-on package that incudes Aura Conferencing, Flare Experience on the ADVD, Flare Communicator and services for 60 per cent off the U.S. list price.