Avaya nets Nimcat Networks for SMB play

Avaya Inc.’s acquisition last month of Ottawa-based Nimcat Networks could be welcome news to small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) looking for a cost-effective phone system.

The $46 million deal sees Avaya acquiring Nimcat Networks’ embedded, peer-to-peer IP communications software. Avaya expects to release its first integrated Nimcat Networks-based product sometime next year.

According to Avaya Canada president, Mario Belanger, the deal allows Avaya to penetrate the SMB space and build on existing technology to help businesses with less than 50 lines.

“Instead of building that technology we determined we would serve that market better and more quickly with existing technology,” said Belanger.

When deploying telephony in a SMB or enterprise, a server-based PBX is usually necessary to perform call processing. With peer-to-peer IP communuications, the need for a PBX and server is eliminated. Nimcat’s software is based on the Session Initiation Protocol standard.

“The intelligence, the call attendant and voice-mail functionality actually resides in the end point, [which is] the telephone set,” Belanger said. Users plug their telephone into their LAN and the phone will automatically recognize itself and the telephone number. There is no need to have a IT person come in and work the telephone system.

“It is plug and play. SMBs don’t have the luxury of utilizing large IT departments or specialists for telephony,” said Belanger. Brian Sharwood, principle of the Seaboard Group in Toronto, said the planned out-of-the-box system is huge and helps Avaya address the under-20-line market. which Avaya has never really done before.

The acquisition, he noted opens up new channels such as retail for Avaya. Places, such as Staples, where SMBs buy their office equipment don’t sell phone systems.

“[Avaya] sells routers, switches and now add to their product set an office phone system. [Avaya] is offering something [Bell and Telus] can’t necessariy touch and do it in a different way,” Sharwood said.

By becoming part of Avaya’s Global Communications Solutions group, Mahsha Koohgoli, CEO of Nimcat Networks, said the deal helps his company grow beyond the 45 employees at its Ottawa office.

“To benefit and exploit the full potential of [peer-to-peer IP communications] this couldn’t be done in the context of a small company. To get this capability out there…[we needed] to find some kind of partnership and Avaya was at the top of the list,” said Koohgoli.

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