SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Eric Krapf | May 05, 2011 |

 
   

Avaya Snags Top Cisco Telepresence Exec

Avaya Snags Top Cisco Telepresence Exec Phil Graham talks to us about his plans for video (and other endpoints) with Avaya. Can Avaya go toe-to-toe with Cisco and Polycom?

Phil Graham talks to us about his plans for video (and other endpoints) with Avaya. Can Avaya go toe-to-toe with Cisco and Polycom?

Avaya's Flare Experience user interface can do a lot of cool things, and now we know it can transport human beings from one place to another. Specifically, it moved Phil Graham from Cisco to Avaya.

In another sign that Avaya wants to be seen as a serious innovator in Unified Communications, the formerly-staid vendor this week hired Graham away from his position as the point person behind Cisco Telepresence, and put him in charge of all endpoints for Avaya. And in an interview yesterday, Graham told me that Flare was a signal that Avaya meant to break new ground in the communications future.

"I think that's why I'm here, frankly," Graham said, calling Flare a "very interesting paradigm of mixing information with applications. And then at the center of that experience is communications."

In announcing Graham's appointment as Vice President, Research and Development, Endpoints, Avaya stated that he will "play a key role in expanding Avaya's focus on next-generation endpoints that improve the user experience and effectiveness of business collaboration." That includes everything from the snazzy but very expensive Desktop Video Device tablet on which Flare made its debut, down to the lowly desktop phone (about which we'll say more shortly). But Graham is a video guy, and that's the major part of his mission with Avaya.

I asked him if his charge is to make Avaya a true videoconferencing vendor on a par with Cisco/Tandberg, Polycom, and their peers; he replied that while he's just beginning to chart a roadmap for video in his new role, the decision to hire someone with his background in video ought to be an indication of the direction that Avaya is heading in this regard. At Cisco, Graham served as VP of Engineering and CTO of that company's TelePresence portfolio, which put him in charge of development for all the TelePresence endpoint, multipoint, recording, and scheduling products.

Graham has a deep history in enterprise video; he came to Cisco from Precept Software, which created one of the first IP video products, and which Cisco acquired in 1998. He pointed out to me that Cisco had no real video product line before acquiring Precept, and subsequently built its interactive video and telepresence capabilities from that foundation. Within one product generation, Cisco had gone from Precept's technology, which was purely streaming IP video, to two-way capabilities.

He believes Avaya can build up its video product capabilities with similar dispatch. Though, again, it's still early in his tenure, he said, "We haven't talked about acquisitions" as a means of hastening Avaya’s path to market with a full-fledged video portfolio. As yet, there are no timetables for developing product offerings.

The biggest knock on the Avaya Desktop Video Device has been its price tag: a $2,000 street price when you include the cost of both the tablet hardware and the Flare software. I asked Phil what he thought of that price, whether he thought it was a model that could gain any traction. While not explicitly endorsing that price point, he said some people want a higher-end device that can support features a $500 tablet can’t.

"I love my iPad, but it's very much a consumption device; trying to create content on it is not very easy, and it only does one thing at a time," Graham said. Also, he said the iPad is "not set up as a device that's for a long video call. It's really set up for a quick little chat."





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2017
March 27-30 | Orlando, FL
Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Special Offer - Save $200 Off Advance Rates

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

March 8, 2017

Enterprise IT's ability to innovate is critical to the success of the business -- 80% of CIOs agree. But the CIO role has never been more challenging than it is today, with rising operational respo

February 22, 2017

Sick of video call technology that make participants look like they're in the witness protection program? Turns out youre not alone. Poor-quality video solutions can give users an unprofessional ap

February 7, 2017

Securing voice communications used to be very simple since it was generally a closed system. However, with unified communications (UC) you no longer have the walled protection offered by a dedicate

February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.