Avaya Converges UC, Conferencing User Experiences

Avaya today announced the long-awaited convergence of the unified communications and conferencing user experience, or UX, into a new platform it calls Avaya Equinox. This should be a welcome evolution for enterprises using Avaya Aura for audio, Web, and video conferencing, as well as for those using the Scopia video conferencing solution Avaya gained in the 2012 acquisition of Radvision.

Along with Equinox, Avaya also introduced an Android-based desktop device known as Avaya Vantage and unveiled advancements of a client SDK for the Avaya Breeze communications-enablement package.

Avaya customers have long faced daunting UX choices, including Avaya Communicator, Flare, one-X Mobile, one-X Communicator, and Scopia. By mid-December, all of these UX options will converge into the new Equinox client.

Also, until now, Avaya customers dealt with competing conferencing solutions -- Avaya Aura Conferencing (AAC) and the Scopia video conferencing solution. These will also converge into Equinox, in January 2017.

The Equinox specs show solid coverage of UC options:

The UX software provides users with an experience that is most like the Scopia client, which has been the direction Avaya has hinted at since acquiring Radvision.

Equinox client features are clearly meant to compete with Cisco Spark, Unify Circuit and similar workstream collaboration products on the market (see related article, "Gartner: Big Changes Afoot for UC"). Equinox includes a dashboard-style home page and persistent multimedia messaging, synchronized across each user device.

Avaya Vantage

Avaya promotes the Vantage desktop device as "all-glass endpoint." Essentially, it has enhanced an Android tablet with an improved speaker and a desktop or wall-mount bracket option. The UX combines elements of Equinox that can be enhanced with applications and information using the Breeze Client SDK. Vantage, which lists at $429, is for use as a touch-screen speakerphone or with a wired ($39 list) or wireless ($119 list) handset.

As a consultant, I'm puzzled by the need for Vantage, since Equinox software can run on tablets, for which there are plenty of docking stations and Bluetooth audio device options on the market.

As for the third element of the announcement, the Breeze Client SDK includes functional capabilities expected by developers. Avaya emphasizes the ability to integrate communications with business processes in vertical industry contexts. The Client SDK becomes part of Avaya's developer suite, including Engagement Designer, to automate workflows, much as has been done for contact centers and IVR for some time. The Client SDK can incorporate the growing set of Avaya Snap-Ins, such as WebRTC, Mobile Video, Work Assignment, and more. Client SDK also can make use of Zang.io, Avaya's communications platform-as-a- service offering.

The Equinox UX client, Vantage endpoint, and Client SDK all depend on the Avaya Aura Session Manager platform. Avaya will market Equinox as an element of the advanced Core Suite and Power Suite licensing, which will likely be acceptable for current Avaya telephony and may slightly expand Aura share of new purchase decisions. However, this will not position Avaya in the broader market for collaborative workspaces nor social software for the workplace, as has been discussed in many other No Jitter posts.

Finally, worth noting is Avaya's view of the market evolution from the "IT focus" of the "UC era" to the employee focus of the "mobile era" to the line-of-business (LOB) focus of the digital era. And Avaya is not alone in this perspective. Its description of the UC era as voice, video, text, and collaboration in a single app is exactly what the IP PBX vendors have been producing for the past 15 years -- but that approach has always seemed to miss the point. Enterprise communications has always been about LOB focus. What enterprise would willingly buy a product that does not improve their business processes and their organization's efficiency? We saw this at UCStrategies in 2006 with our definition of UC as "communications integrated to optimize business processes." Glad that Avaya is now endorsing that core value of UC.

In summary, it is really great to see this rationalization of the Avaya UX and conferencing offers. This will certainly be welcome to Avaya customers and is a positive move in the industry at large.