Avaya Inc. this week announced two software add-ons for its Aura product, designed to help organizations place outbound calls using more than one calling system.
Avaya Notification Solution, unveiled at VoiceCon in San Francisco, is available now and can be programmed to send out urgent alerts to a list of people by voice or e-mail. If recipients cannot be reached, then ANS could reach them by another means, such as short messaging service (SMS) to a cell phone.
“Calling people and hitting answering machines isn’t good enough anymore,” said Tracy Fleming, Markham, Ont.-based Aura practice lead for Avaya Canada.
“As we get into things like H1N1 (swine flu virus), that’s a perfect use case. Other use cases that you’ll see are snow days in schools.”
Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Avaya announced Aura, a product that includes a Linux server loaded with Avaya’s Session Manager and Communications Server software, in last March.
Avaya has been touting Aura’s interoperability because it uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) signaling standard, and is designed to let companies connect private branch exchanges (PBXs) from different manufacturers, such as Cisco Systems Inc., Mitel Networks Corp. and Nortel Networks Corp.
Aura’s release was “timely,” given Avaya’s agreement to acquire the enterprise assets of Toronto-based Nortel, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection since January, Fleming said.
“It wasn’t really planned that way,” Fleming added. “Aura was in the works before, for two years.”
Although ANS does not provide notification services that were technically impossible in the past, Fleming said, it was expensive to implement in multi-vendor networks because of the programming and integration required.
“The whole premise behind Aura is a model that is predicated on SIP and creates a normalization layer so we can connect our PBXs and third party PBX to this normalized application layer,” he said.
The ANS announcement is significant, said Jayanth Angl, lead analyst at Info-Tech Research Group of London, Ont., because companies are looking for emergency notification capability in their business continuity plans.
“This is a good example of Avaya providing this within its own architecture,” Angl said. “They have addressed key considerations: being able to alert via multiple modes of communications, not just phone but e-mail, SMS and making sure there’s not just one path you rely on when trying to notify your constituents.”
Fleming said Avaya has seen interest from Canadian companies in Aura, and is in the “final stages” of selling product to 30 customers.
Aura has three versions: standard, branch and enterprise. In addition to Communications Manager, Auroa has Avaya’s Presence Services software, which is designed to help users figure out the best way to contact colleagues based on their availability at a given time.
“The release of Aura was a significant move for Avaya and pretty well received,” Angl said. “Avaya and Cisco are still really the leaders in North America and it remains to be seen once the Nortel acquisition finalizes, if it completes as planned, Avaya will perhaps be a market share leader in this space.”
Avaya plans to let customers use their own hardware for Aura in the future, meaning Avaya would sell the software and the user would buy the server on their own. But for the time being, Avaya supplies a Linux server it has tested in order to reduce support costs, Fleming said.
In addition to ANS, Avaya also released Proactive Outreach for Financial Services, a software module for Aura designed to let banks place calls to mortgage customers. Using voice automation, the outbound call software is designed to help banks figure out whether customers are eligible to have the terms of their mortgages modified and to update them on the status of their applications. The software was available before this week, but was designed for loan collections rather than tailored for mortgage customers.