No product at Avaya has received as many upgrades and enhancements as has IP Office. The UC platform has grown from its SMB roots into a midmarket solution that supports up to 3,000 users with broad UC capabilities. Avaya reports it has shipped over half a million IP Office systems globally, and that more than 3,000 channel partners sell the platform.
Today Avaya announced the availability of IP Office Release 10 (R10), which largely focuses on the cloud. Avaya has taken a different path to the cloud than most of its competitors. Rather than build out a direct, public cloud service, it has cloud-enabled its IP Office platform as a service that its partners can deliver (see related post, "Know Your Avaya IP Office Hybrid Options").
Eye on IT, Service Providers
"A lot of the enhancements made in R10 are very important for premises-based deployments, but these improvements are absolutely critical for cloud," said Bob Romano, director of SMB/midmarket product marketing at Avaya. R10 doesn't have a lot of new end-user features, but instead offers improvements that IT operations and service providers will appreciate, he explained.
Cloud-delivered services have many additional requirements over premises-based solutions. R10 will streamline deployments, simplify management, increase resiliency and security, improve performance and capacities, and enable experience improvements.
Avaya has made a number of changes in R10 that reduce installation time. For example, IP Office R10 enables automatic detection of other IP Office systems and related components. Avaya also enhanced its LDAP integration and simplified the UC client install process.
Post installation, a number of the R10 improvements go toward enhanced management. A new extended Web manager provides fuller access to configuration details. Several improvements facilitate administration. Offline mode enables administrative programming when the system is inactive, and administrators can now push dynamic changes while the system is online. Licenses across multiple sites can now be centrally managed. Several diagnostic improvements for troubleshooting and managed services include a real-time voice quality monitor.
IP Office had already supported failover between like deployments, and R10 introduces hybrid failover from cloud to premises, and vice versa. Avaya said it believes the hybrid option will be popular with its premises-based customers looking to migrate to cloud services.
R10 also includes always-on encryption, which has become necessary with increased use of over-the-top networking services.
With R10, IP Office capacity remains unchanged at 3,000 users per system. However, the release raises several internal limits, including increases for hunt groups, soft-consoles, mailboxes, and overall storage capacity. Simultaneously, R10 reduces system memory requirements.
R10 offers a few user experience upgrades as well. A big one is that IP Office now supports single sign-on with credentials from Google, Microsoft Office 365, and Salesforce. There are also some improvements to the UC client, including improved email integration and ad-hoc conferencing from the mobile client. There's improved integration, and now users of the Microsoft Skype for Business client can access voice and IM services from IP Office. R10 also supports the new Avaya H175 video collaboration endpoint.
The vast majority of the R10 improvements appear to be cloud-oriented. Avaya has two cloud strategies: Powered By Avaya and OnAvaya (see related No Jitter post, "Avaya Straightens Out Midmarket Cloud Strategy"). The Powered By path is designed to enable partners to develop their own hosting services. This program allows partners to leverage existing IP Office skills with several hosting benefits, including OpEx licensing from Avaya.
The OnAvaya program is a turnkey IP Office solution that partners can activate within the Google Cloud. In this case partners build out their cloud services by delegating the operational and data center skills to Avaya and Google. The partner does the sales and support, but Avaya staff manages the service for the partner.
It's taken some time, but Avaya's cloud strategy is beginning to pay off. Avaya claimed that it doubled its cloud-ready partners in the past quarter, and saw a 26% rise in cloud-enabled customers over the past quarter. Many of the enhancements such as dynamic configuration, improved LDAP, hybrid failover, and encryption all scream "cloud."
R10 is short on a few enhancements that Avaya previewed last year. For example, Avaya claimed that it would combine Scopia video and Aura Conferencing into a single client in 2016. IP Office R10 still uses the separate clients... but then the year isn't over yet.
Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.