Camping with Avaya
The Avaya ACE Codecamp Mini-Hackathon let members of the DevConnect program show their stuff.
Last week Avaya's user group (IAUG) held its annual conference in Boston. Co-located with this event was the "Avaya ACE Codecamp Mini-Hackathon" sponsored by Avaya and co-sponsored by CRI, a systems integrator that is one of the many technology partners of Avaya's DevConnect program. For those that don't know DevConnect, it's Avaya's developer forum and is the most mature and, in my opinion, the best developer program of all the UC solution providers. Avaya has been working on this program for years and I believe it's the company's best opportunity to create long-term sustainable competitive advantage over Cisco and Microsoft.
The concept behind DevConnect is to allow third party developers to create UC-enabled applications that sit on top of Avaya's UC software to create unique applications. While this has always been the vision, the program was given a shot in the arm when the company acquired Nortel and ACE was brought into the fold. ACE is a great application suite and was a perfect complement to the structure put in place by Avaya. Much of what can be done in ACE could have been done before, but ACE uses protocols, like voice-XML (VXML), making developer tasks much faster and simpler than in the old CTI days. ACE also extends what developers can do past voice and adds presence, mobility, session management and other things related to this modern era of voice.
The Codecamp was Avaya's way of demonstrating just how easy this was. The program was a 36-hour session that started off with training and then turned the developers loose to create whatever they could dream up. I was brought in as a judge to pick a couple of winners from the coding done in roughly 16 hours, (including time for sleep). Each participant was given access to ACE, an iPad running the Flare interface and a 1X phone.
The Codecamp participants were a good mix of internal IT and 3rd party developers including: Starfish Associates, PNC Bank, Amcom Software, Infosys Online, Servion, NIC, Aetna, SimpliCTI, Merril, NACR and a number of Avaya developers.
I sat through a presentation from each person and then was tasked with picking a winner and I must admit, I was impressed with how much work most of the groups got done in the limited time available.
The first winning bid was from SimpliCTI, who created a number of session based voice applications including a power dialer, voice blaster and a presence based call center help application. You could almost consider these to be a collection of voice and presence enabled widgets that could be snapped into another application. To demonstrate it, SimpliCTI integrated the widgets into salesforce.com. The thing I liked about this was that the company wasn't setting out to build another application but instead wrote software that could be integrated into applications that workers currently use. The spokesperson from SimpliCTI told me the VXML and session management capabilities made the process much easier than if they had to use traditional CTI methods (and by their company name, I believe them!)