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The Yin and Yang of Avaya and Zang

As Zeus Kerravala discussed in his No Jitter post, "Avaya Steps Up its Platform Game," Avaya launched Zang, a new company, communications platform as a service (CPaaS), and brand, this morning from the keynote stage at Enterprise Connect.

The Zang announcement follows on the heels of Monday’s renaming of the Engagement Development Platform (EDP) to Avaya Breeze -- and I take my title from an Avaya briefing slide.

I spoke to Gary Barnett, SVP and GM, Avaya Engagement Solutions, and Mo Nezarati, CEO of the newly created Zang, to gain an understanding of how customers should think about the two companies, their portfolios, and what each will offer to the market. (As you might remember, Nezarati had been VP and GM of UC applications at Avaya, a title he took on when Avaya acquired Esna Technologies, the popular cloud integration platform of which he was CEO, last May.)

Is Zang an Esna Rebrand?
Barnett seemed to relish the opportunity to explain the differences between Esna at the time of acquisition and Zang today. Think of the new company as one-quarter Esna, and three-quarters Zang, he said. That three-quarters comprises:

Is Breeze the Same as EDP 3.1?
In December 2014, Avaya did a company-wide re-branding that included the contact center portfolio becoming Customer Engagement, unified communications as Team Engagement, and the then-Collaboration Environment becoming Engagement Development Platform (EDP). However, Avaya wasn't able to create any affinity -- internally or externally -- to the EDP name, Barnett conceded. The name was perhaps “too technically descriptive,” he said. In a world with catchy one-syllable, one-word names for applications -- think Slack, Spark, Fuze -- Engagement Development Platform was perhaps too evocative of a legacy-laden business rather than painting a vivid picture of a bright future.

Avaya is likely hoping that the new name will give the market a reason to a second look at the features and functions that Barnett said have been helping businesses reinvent communications. The EDP notions of Snap-ins continues, allowing companies to embed SMS, voice, video into mobile, Web, and contact center with powerful, simple APIs.

What will be different with Breeze is a shift from Avaya-developed Snap-ins to Snap-ins developed by partners, customers, and other external developers, or so Avaya hopes. Announced with Breeze is the Snapp Store, already populated with 20 Snap-ins (see related story). Barnett said he believes Avaya will zoom past early estimates of 50 developer-built Snap-ins in the first quarter of 2016 and 100 by third quarter.

Also new with Breeze is the ability to support multiple underlying platforms, Barnett said. Until now, the platform worked only with -- and required -- the Avaya Aura platform. Breeze capabilities are now being brought to a new infrastructure, Zang’s CPaaS. First up is likely IP Office, but Esna had earlier worked with a number of competitor platforms, including those from Cisco and Mitel.

To summarize, Breeze is more than EDP and Zang is more than Esna. What will be interesting to watch is how different Zang is from Avaya.

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