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Avaya Brings Communications to Where You 'Live'

As promised late last month when announcing its acquisition of popular cloud integration platform provider Esna Technologies, Avaya today released an Esna-powered browser extension for communications enabling cloud-based business applications.

With the browser extension, called Avaya Communicator for Web, companies can embed real-time voice, video, IM/presence, and conferencing applications into cloud applications like, Google Apps, and Office 365. Avaya Communicator for Web initially works with Chrome and Internet Explorer browsers, and is available to users of IP Office, Avaya's collaboration platform for small and midsized businesses. Bob Romano, vice president of video marketing, wrote about Avaya Communicator for Web is a blog today.

Communications Partner of Record
Given the Google Apps tie-in, you might consider this the first manifestation of the power punch that could come out of the close working relationship Avaya, now with Esna, has with Google. As Dave Michels, TalkingPointz editor and analyst, pointed out in his earlier No Jitter post on the Esna acquisition, the Google Apps integration had to be highly appealing to Avaya, which already offers a Chromebook client for contact center agents as well as an on-demand contact center using Google Cloud Platform.

In a sit-down I had last week, Avaya CTO Laurent Philonenko framed the company's goal this way: "Google doesn't have a 'communications' partner of record. That's what we're aspiring to be."

Avaya Communicator for Web inside a Google spreadsheet

Mo Nezarati, former Esna CEO and now VP and GM of UC applications at Avaya, also expressed high hopes for ongoing collaboration with Google when I spoke with him in a separate one-on-one conversation last week. The intent is to continue working to integrate IP Office into the Google environment, with the overarching goal of enabling Google Apps users to push a button and launch a PBX, he said.

Front & Center
Nezarati made it clear that he would like Avaya to be in the thick of things as communications and collaboration technologies converge. "My goal is to leverage all of [Avaya's] super-rich tools and build those right into applications -- we can do things Slack and the others just can't do" -- like support enterprise-scale video conferences, as Avaya does via its Scopia video infrastructure technology.

"The future of collaboration is going to be multiparty, multicast, consistent collaboration -- if we have a meeting with Scopia, why shouldn't we be able to collaborate in that space afterwards, and have others join in?" he asked. "People want these different capabilities, but not a separate client."

The future is also all about heterogeneity, and Avaya Communicator for Web is certainly evidence that Avaya understands and embraces the reality that a single vendor environment is a thing of yesteryear, Nezarati said. "The world is no longer a set of homogeneous solutions, and this shows we're ready to work in a multivendor environment." In fact, he added, "I like to think we can take the entire Avaya product suite and make it work in a multivendor environment."

No Playing Favorites
For a guy who has been on the leading edge of cloud-based communications-enablement, Nezarati was surprisingly effusive about Avaya Communicator for Web. "I love this product," he said in speaking about the Chrome extension in particular. "You just go to the Chrome store, download it, and it works."

I'll have to take his word for it, as I'm not an enterprise communications manager charged with modernizing business apps with the addition of communications capabilities. But one thing I can attest to is that this Avaya integration doesn't require use of an SDK, and as Nezarati pointed out to me, the similar Esna integration for Cisco does.

Not that he wants to come off as playing favorites. Both Nezarati and Philonenko stressed how committed the company is to supporting the cloud integration work Esna has done for other UC vendors, including Cisco, Mitel, and ShoreTel, and nurturing those relationships. Rest assured, "we've had conversations with our friends and competitors about this. ... The truth will be in how we behave," Philonenko told me. "We could very well change how the industry thinks about interoperability. That's a bet that we'll be making, and so far we are hopeful that it's going to work."

The crux of the matter is this: People should be able to communicate where they live -- and if that's in Salesforce, Google Apps, Office 365, or Jive, then so be it, Philonenko said. "We want to be the company that lets you live where you want to live from the application standpoint but have your chat and your messaging and voice, etc., from there."

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