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Avaya and Zoom Strike GTM UC Alliance

Today, Avaya and Zoom announced a strategic unified communications (UC) alliance. The alliance will enable Zoom Workplace to integrate with Avaya call control solutions. This is a surprising and significant alliance that will benefit both companies and their customers. The partnership means that Avaya customers will soon have the option to use Zoom Workplace as a UC client. This new Workplace version will include a new dialer that can be configured with Avaya Aura systems.


Unlikely but Logical 

It’s an unlikely but logical partnership. Unlikely because Avaya serves some of the largest UC and contact center (CC) deployments primarily with premises-based or private cloud solutions. Zoom is a modern, cloud-native, multitenant collaboration provider associated with modern collaboration. They arrived at the same place via totally different paths. 

While the general narrative for the past decade or so is that the cloud – unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS) – are displacing premises-based solutions (UC and CC), most analysts believe less than 40% of the market has transitioned. Larger enterprises, in particular, have been reluctant to trade licenses for services. Many benefits of cloud-delivered services are weaker or nonapplicable to larger implementations, including cost advantages and customization limitations. 

Soon, Avaya customers can integrate Zoom Workplace with Avaya premises-based and private cloud versions of Aura solution. Customized workflows, Avaya clients, and Avaya phones remain fully operational, but users can use Zoom to make and receive calls over Avaya (or Zoom) infrastructure. 

Large enterprises often customize their UC implementations to optimize specific workflows, complicating system replacement. Avaya is focused primarily on contact centers partly because UC/UCaaS is mature and also to accommodate customer demand, but UC remains a big part of its business. 

UC used to be centered around telephony, but messaging and meetings have become more central to the UC stack. Google, Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom have been leading with messaging and meetings, typically under enterprise-wide license agreements. As these providers also offer telephony, customers can get caught in winner-takes-it-all battles. 


Coexistence is the Better Option

Avaya and Zoom see coexistence as a better option. Although their vendor solutions overlap, their customer demographics are largely different. The alliance will allow customers to combine the benefits of premises-based and private cloud solutions with a modern collaboration suite. Alan Masarek, who became CEO at Avaya in 2022, has championed “innovation without disruption” as an Avaya call to arms. 

The new Zoom Workplace platform includes meetings, a dialer, chat, Zoom AI Companion, video messaging, scheduler, email, calendar, whiteboard, and more. It does not include Zoom Phone, Zoom Contact Center, or WorkVivo. Avaya enterprise customers can use the Zoom client, Avaya clients, and/or Avaya phones. 

The partnership does not impact or disrupt the alliance Avaya has with RingCentral. In 2019, Avaya and RingCentral formed a partnership that positioned RingCentral as its exclusive partner for UCaaS. 

This is a big win for customers that have both Avaya and Zoom as they combine the power and benefits of these brands into a single solution for communications and collaboration. Avaya is becoming a Zoom Partner that can provide Zoom Workplace to its customers who don't have Zoom. Customers of both brands get more choice and sources of innovation.


The Path Forward

Avaya has already formed a simpler collaboration with Microsoft Teams, but that’s just an integration. Zoom is committing to a native integration of Avaya’s advanced call control. The Zoom client will work with all supported versions of Aura. 

Avaya will now have five UC solutions to meet the needs of its diverse customer base: IP Office and Aura for premises-based solutions, Aura Private Cloud, Avaya Cloud Office (ACO) by RingCentral for UCaaS, and native integration with Zoom Workplace for enterprise collaboration. Zoom Workplace also becomes an enterprise client for advanced UC calling applications. The Avaya and Zoom relationship is nonexclusive, so potentially Avaya will partner with other collaboration providers, and Zoom will partner with other UC vendors. 

Currently, Avaya has not signaled any intent to end-of-life any of its UC offers. The company did say that it is pleased with the sales performance of IP Office, Aura, and ACO. 

Zoom hopes to release an updated client for Avaya Aura this summer but has not committed to a time frame yet. 

Dave Michels is a contributing editor and analyst at TalkingPointz.