Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express Versus Avaya IP Office - New Product Comparison

VoIP-based Unified Communications Systems - A Great Business Tool

With the advent of VoIP, many companies have come up with unified communications systems. These help to ease the problems of `telephone tag' and deliver a better service to end customers of enterprises using them. With unified communication systems, it is possible to integrate CRM and customer service responses and provide the end user with a seamless way to deal with customers. Most small and medium enterprises today are doing their best to woo and retain customers by offering a great service and customer experience. Both Cisco's Unified Communications Manager and Avaya's IP Office offer facilities that help small and medium enterprises to provide a better service to their customers. Some of the features of each are discussed here.

Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express

Cost Effective Telephony Services to Both Main and Branch Offices

By using VoIP technology and unified communications systems, both Cisco and Avaya have come up with cost effective ways to use the telephone. Whether you need to make long duration local calls or long-distance calls, these products will help to limit your telephone bills. They offer huge savings in voice calls both from landlines and mobile phones. Both the products are easy to deploy, maintain, and administer. This helps bring down the total cost of the product. By unifying communication they make it easier for employees to respond to situations faster.

Moreover, Cisco's Unified Communications Manager Express has a small footprint, a valuable feature in space-starved metros.

Small Private Branch Exchange Available with Cisco's Product

Cisco's product comes with a small private branch exchange that helps you to manage your calls more effectively.

Integrating with Existing CRM Modules

Cisco's product can be integrated with existing CRM modules for better dealing with customers.

Greater Employee Productivity

Both Avaya and Cisco have designed products that increase employee productivity. While with Avaya's product, employees can choose the method of receiving calls, with Cisco's product, all employees have a greater call control, location, and status of other users.

User-specified Call Routing

With Cisco's product, users can program the system with specific instructions to route certain calls to their mobile phones or their home number. This is something that greatly increases productivity and frees employees from being tied to their desks. Knowledge workers, especially those on the move, become more productive because of this feature. This feature is also available in Avaya's IP Office.

Scalable Product for Migration to Greater Numbers

Cisco's product can support 450 employees against Avaya's 250 employees. Moreover, Cisco's product makes it convenient to migrate to a higher system later on. If you are planning to increase staff strength in the future, then Cisco's product is certainly more apt for you.

Avaya's IP Office

Just like Cisco's product, Avaya's IP Office too is a great tool to communicate among your employees and with customers.

Increases Competitiveness of the Enterprise

As Avaya's IP Office increases the possibilities of collaboration, it increases the competitiveness of your enterprise. You will be able to reach customers much more efficiently than your competition.

Resiliency during Power Outages

In case of power outages, Avaya's IP Office will ensure that you can still communicate via the phone. This is because it has built-in resiliency of one branch office system taking over the communication functions of the other.

The only problem with this feature is that for it to function you need to have at least two offices.

Free Conferencing Facility

Avaya's product offers free conferencing facility supporting 64 people at a time. This is something that Cisco's product does not offer. Though Avaya's product can offer point-to-point video calls, it does not support video conferencing as yet. However, it does offer the facility to record conferences, making it a great business tool. If your business needs you to hold a lot of teleconferences, you should definitely choose this product over Cisco's.

Can Be Administered Centrally

Avaya's IP Office can be deployed at more than one location, yet be administered from a central office. This saves on an administrator's salary and, therefore, saves on costs. The product also proactively looks for problems and solves them before they become a major issue. Again this reduces downtime.

Cisco's product does not have this feature yet.

While both Avaya's IP Office and Cisco's Unified Communications Manager Express are great products they have different features. This means that you need to see which features your particular enterprise needs and then opt for the appropriate product. Both are cost effective solutions to today's communication needs. They help the enterprise connect with its customers in more ways than one. If your enterprise is likely to grow into a bigger one with more employees then using Cisco's product makes sense. However, if you need teleconferencing facilities then you need to choose Avaya's product. Cisco's small footprint also makes it ideal for businesses located in metros or other areas where office space is at a premium.

For more info on Avaya IP Office visit http://www.avaya-ipoffice.net

This article was provided by Scott Camball of TRC Networks, Our website address is http://www.trcnetworks.com.

Browse our site and learn why we have become so well regarded as the top telephony company in the GTA. We provide services in Toronto, Southern Ontario, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver. Also, we offer our services in many other Canadian and American market places with Nortel, Avaya, and Cisco.

Avaya IP Telephones - 4620, 5600 & 9600 - The Way of the Future




Along with its Avaya Office IP solution, Avaya offers IP telephones. These are suited for the Office IP solution and have all the features that users of Avaya's traditional business phones expect. As these phones have almost the same features as traditional phones, users need not be re-trained to operate them. This leads to a tremendous savings in both cost and time. All the phones can be used intuitively, as the features are quite easy to understand and operate. All your employees from your receptionist to your mobile knowledge worker will find that these phones enhance their productivity.

Avaya offers three series of IP phones - the 4620, the 5600, and the 9600. Each series has a number of models under them with slightly varying features. All these phones have a few features in common - they are stylish and easy to operate. They support a range of functions that have now become common in most enterprises. What follows is a brief discussion of the features of each series.

4620 series

These phones have advanced calling features as well as stylish look. The streamlined design is very attractive. Besides, they incorporate a built-in headset jack, a message waiting indicator, easily readable displays, hearing aid compatibility, NetMeeting compatibility, multiple programmable feature keys, and display navigation keys. These make them very productive tools in an office environment. They also have paperless button labels, fixed keys for transfer, hold, mute, drop, redial, conference, volume, and headset. It has a large grayscale display.

Moreover, it has an infrared port, call log application, special speed dial application, web browser, multiple power options, and personalized ring patterns. As everyone is aware all these functions help the enterprise using these phones to compete better in today's highly competitive business environment. Additionally, it delivers all the features of the Avaya Communications Manager directly to the desktop. You have a choice of wall mount and desk top models to choose from.

As these phones have an integrated VPN client installed in them, they can be used by tele-workers, home agents, and workers in disaster recovery sites.

These phones also have built-in adapters for upgrades. So, by choosing these phones you are planning for the long term as well. It has a large capacity LAN for data transfer as well.

5600 series

This series of Avaya IP phones have a lot of software features and high audio quality. Some versions are enabled to support browser based desktop applications such as online order entry and inventory lookup apart from directory based dialing and call logging. Some of these phones, such as the 5610 and 5621, support VPN software, doing away with the need for a VPN device at the remote location.

This series is more secure than the 4620 series as it has sophisticated encryption and protection from denial of service attacks. This series has a user-friendly interface making it very easy to use. These phones can easily be upgraded by downloading the appropriate software. They have a simplified wiring system and software provisioning. They have a dynamic IP address assignment ability. It comes with a noise cancelling microphone for busy offices.

These phones are priced lower than the 4620 series as they do not have the facility to upgrade to make them compatible with the Communication Manager. If your enterprise does not require to move to the Communication Manager in the short to med term, then you can safely opt for this phone. Otherwise choose the 4620 series over this series.

9600 series

This series comprises of powerful deskphones that are full featured. They offer customizability and performance. Moreover, one has increased call control and call management capabilities with these phones. They enhance worker productivity and satisfaction by their ease of use.

Some of these phones have mobility applications and are designed for use by those, who rely heavily on their phones to meet their work targets. Other phones are meant for those such as receptionists who manage a high volume of calls. They also have basic models for those who receive only a few calls a day. By choosing the right phone model for each worker, you will be able to save substantially on costs while still ensuring that all the telephone needs of your employees are met.

Conclusion

While the 5600 series is less expensive, it does come with the caveat that it cannot be upgraded to support the Communication Manager. As most business eventually move toward using the Communication Manager, opt for the lower cost series only if you are very sure that you will not need the Communication Manager in the short to mid term. However, the 5600 series is more secure, so if security of communication is very important to your business, then you need to opt for phones from this series. If you need phones that can be customized, then opt for the 9600 series of phones by Avaya.

This article was provided by Scott Camball of TRC Networks, Our website address is http://www.trcnetworks.com.

Browse our site and learn why we have become so well regarded as the top telephony company in the GTA. We provide services in Toronto, Southern Ontario, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver. Also, we offer our services in many other Canadian and American market places with Nortel, Avaya, and Cisco.

Unified Communications: It's Not Too Big for Small Business

Posted by Jeanne Quinn on Jul 28, 2010 10:43:56 PM

Real-time collaboration and communications tools improve employee productivity and customer service.

It’s happened to all of us, and probably more times than we care to remember: You need to talk to a colleague on an important matter but you just can’t reach him. You leave voicemails, you send emails, and you roam the cubicle maze asking if anyone has seen or heard from him. Finally, the guy who sits next to him says, "Oh, he left on vacation yesterday and won't be back for two weeks."

In my case, as a full-time remote worker, with most of my colleagues 3000 miles away from my desk, this problem is further exacerbated, since roaming the cubicle maze to track down someone would first require six hours on a plane…

At any rate, no one has this kind of time to waste when you are trying to get a question answered. It's precisely this problem that unified communications (UC) can alleviate.

With unified communications, anyone in your company can see who is online and available at any given moment. UC makes it easier to communicate and collaborate with coworkers, customers, and partners in real time. It increases employee productivity and efficiency, improving your ability to make accurate decisions, and enhance customer service.

Until recently, UC technology was adopted by big businesses with large workforces in multiple locations. But smaller companies benefit from unified communications, too, especially if your employees are mobile (or they just move around a lot within your office) or are geographically distributed. In addition, unified communications is a good fit if your company needs to collaborate closely with partners or vendors.

What is Unified Communications?

A UC solution integrates several different communications products, such as video, instant messaging and email, and enables them to work in real-time. You may already be using a key UC component—instant messaging. Here are some other UC tools that your company might find useful:

  1. IP telephony: IP telephony is often the first step a company takes in adopting a UC solution, but it doesn't have to be. IP telephony (which some people refer to as voice over IP or VoIP, although that term really just refers to the way the voice is transmitted—over an IP network—be it Skype’s or the one in your office) connects your phone services—including conferencing—to your network. This way, mobile workers can access business phone services from any location by logging into your network. IP phones act more like little computers with the capability of running and displaying productivity-enhancing applications—employee directories, time card and attendance, inventory and supply-chain, flight status and weather updates, instructions for workers who may not have access to a computer—the list is endless.
  2. Conferencing: Web-based conferencing applications let participants attend a meeting from any location using voice, video, and the Internet. Conferencing is one of the most popular components of unified communications because it lets employees collaborate in real time. As a remote worker, 90% of my day is spent on WebEx calls with co-workers and vendors. I can see their faces on video, know who is talking by looking at the browser interface, and share a document for their input, all from my comfy chair at home.
  3. Unified messaging: Often confused with UC, unified messaging simply gathers all of your emails, voicemails, and faxes into a single inbox, which you can then retrieve from any device with an Internet connection, including your smartphone. So if I’m on the phone, waiting for a meeting to start, I can log in and play my voicemail from a browser while I wait.
  4. Instant messaging with presence: Presence technology shows everyone on the network where you are, if you're available, and how you prefer to be contacted. Advanced solutions let you start an instant message chat and then escalate it to a voice call or even a video conference. Again, working remotely, this saves a ton of time that I’d otherwise spend calling folks and leaving them voicemails to call me back (which usually happens when I’m in a meeting…perpetuating that vicious phone-tag cycle). I can get the answer to a question in seconds, or provide a key update to a colleague while they are in the middle of a meeting. In fact, a Chadwick Bailey Martin study showed that businesses of all sizes can save up to 20 minutes per employee per day simply by enabling them to reach a co-worker on the first try.

You can pick and choose the tools that will make your small business more efficient. But if you plan to purchase all of your UC tools from one vendor, you may want to consider installing a UC client, providing users one-click access to all of the applications from a single window. As your company grows, you can add other features, such as a softphone client for PCs, which lets employees make an Internet-based call from their computers. Also, you can add advanced telephony features, such as "single number reach", which gives you a single phone number that can ring at an employee’s mobile phone, desk phone, and home phone.

Vancouver-based Fresh Direct particularly likes how single number reach makes its employees more responsive to customers, since the customer doesn't have to try to figure out which number to call to reach a sales rep.










As with any new technology, there are several things to consider before implementing UC. You need a solid network and a reliable, fast connection to the Internet. In some cases, you may need an in-house IT employee or a local reseller who can help install and manage the various UC tools. Alternatively, you could choose a hosted or cloud-based UC service, which might be a more cost-effective choice for some smaller companies.

If your business depends on quick communication and collaboration among employees, customers, and partners, a unified communications solution might be a smart investment for your company.

Is your company using any unified communications applications or services now? Which ones have been the most helpful for your employees? What benefits has your company reaped by using UC?

How Polycom's Andrew Miller adapted to working in new territory

The Big Deal

Polycom's CEO On Business, Viking-Style

Andy Greenberg, 07.29.10, 12:00 PM EDT

How Polycom's Andrew Miller adapted to working in new territory.


image

The easy deals can be made by anyone. The big, meaningful ones draw on the experience of a lifetime--as well as lots of moxie and luck. Forbes is asking leaders in business and other fields about their pivotal "big deals."

Andrew Miller became the chief executive of video and networking firm Polycom in May 2010. From 2001 to 2006 he was the CEO of Norwegian video conferencing firm Tandberg. He spoke with Forbes technology writer Andy Greenberg about adjusting to a new place and culture, when he left Cisco (where he had spent 11 years) for Tandberg.

Andrew Miller: For me the biggest deal of my career was when I left Cisco, where I was vice president of sales, and agreed to take on the CEO position at Tandberg, which at that time was an $80 million publicly traded company in Oslo.

I was the only American on the executive team of a company that is Norwegian not only by stock market domiciling, but in terms of heritage and culture.

I landed on my first day in Oslo on a flight from Washington Dulles Airport and went through customs. At Cisco, I was used to being greeted by a driver or somebody there from the team welcoming me. In Norway, there was nobody there, no car to pick me up. At that moment I felt literally, completely alone.

I showed up at Tandberg and the then-chairman said to me, 'Andy, you're going to share an office with the president of the company.' And I said, 'Well, I thought I was the CEO and president.' And he said to me, 'We weren't sure you were going to show up, so we hired another president anyway.'

That was my aha moment. For the past 11 years, I felt like I had the backing of Cisco [chief executive] John Chambers, and now I was out there on my own in a foreign land with a foreign culture and not wholeheartedly accepted. It was during the Bush administration and Europeans were viewing Americans very differently. But I had to make it work.

I learned a lot about cultural differences in Norway. It's very dark and cold, and there's a lot of drinking. From a business perspective, it's very consensus driven and less hierarchical than the American style. It's a very family-oriented culture but also one, in terms of business, that I would call Viking in its brazenness and aggression.

So I listened a lot. I did not come in as the ugly American that knew how to run their business. I formed relationships. I spent a lot of time with their families. It really took a year before they believed in me as an American leader.

In the end, I helped open up the North American market and the Asian market to Tandberg. From 2001 to 2005, we grew from $80 million in revenue to $400 million, from an 18% market share to 42%. And I learned a great deal about how people actually do look at life through different lenses and cultures.


--As told to and edited by Andrew Greenberg of Forbes. To see more stories written by him, click here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Avaya Stares Down Microsoft, Cisco

After years of hanging around the top of the IP telephony market, the company is poised to take over unified communications, but Cisco and Microsoft stand in the way.

By Tim Greene on Mon, July 26, 2010

Network World — While Avaya's contact center and unified communications announcements last week signal the company wants a dominant position in those areas, it faces internal challenges and formidable competitors including Microsoft and Cisco.

The company is in the midst of digesting and integrating Nortel's enterprise division, which it bought last year for $900 million and from which it expects to reap big returns by next spring. At the same time, it is dealing with the same generally soft economy that other vendors are -- though Cisco is registering surprisingly strong revenue gains.

The Avaya FAQ

Avaya's CEO says the next six to nine months are critical as it tries to integrate the former Nortel Enterprise division -- including network infrastructure and business telephony -- into its fold. The purchase was finalized last December, so the company has just completed its second full quarter since the acquisition. "On most operational details we have the normal first quarter challenges from shipments and logistics. Second quarter things are feeling pretty good, and the litmus test is ahead of us," CEO Kevin Kennedy told Network World in an interview at Avaya's offices.

That test is whether the company can nail down significant long-term commitments from Nortel telephony and contact center customers and lock them into a migration toward Avaya UC. At the heart of that challenge is convincing Nortel customers to buy Avaya Aura, the company's flagship communications server. With Aura customers can step into IP telephony, glue together disparate VoIP systems and -- most significantly for Avaya -- lay the foundation for adopting UC.

Kennedy says Aura can support Session Initiation Protocol trunking immediately to bring cost savings to corporations and over time bring increased productivity that will save money long-term but might have a longer return on investment.

He acknowledges that getting Nortel communications customers interested in sticking with Avaya as they make plans for transitions to UC is key. The company is trying to draw them in with a flurry of announcements about new products, product enhancements and integrations with Nortel products. "This period right now is about bringing a lot of innovation to market. Now the question will be, are our customers as excited about it as we are?" he asks.

The stakes are high since just 17% of Avaya accounts overlap with Nortel's, and competitors are gunning for the rest with attractive deals. "These customers are a pretty loyal base," says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group. "But they're loyal to Nortel, not Avaya." Historically, until Cisco entered the VoIP market, very few telephony customers shifted from one vendor to another, Kerravala says, and the recent turmoil of Nortel's bankruptcy and Avaya's purchase of its telephony business puts Nortel customers in play.


Surprisingly, the purchase of Nortel by Avaya didn't result in Avaya catapulting to the top of the IP telephony market as some analysts expected. With Nortel and Avaya ranking solidly among the top five for years with very nearly equal shares of the market led people to think combining the two would result in a formidable lead for Avaya, says Matthius Machowinski, an analyst with Infonetics. "We expected them to be ahead of everyone else," he says.

But after the purchase Nortel's business continued to suffer and purchases in general dropped because of the recession, he says. Vendors attempts to lure more sales by dropping prices further eroded revenues, he says. Overall, IP telephony sales dropped 20% to 30%, but Nortel's dropped 50% he says. Meanwhile, Cisco proved a tough competitor coming in with a strong first quarter this year and hanging close, Machowinski says.

"These Nortel customers are up for grabs right now," Kerravala says. "If Avaya is able to upgrade them right now, likely they will own them for a very long time."

Kennedy says that his company represents stability to Nortel customers who were traumatized by the Nortel bankruptcy, waiting for months to find out whether the products they had installed would be supported, let alone upgraded as technology moves forward. Avaya's purchase of the assets gave them a financially stable company to deal with that promised product support and a migration path to new features and products that doesn't require ripping out old gear and starting over, he says.

"If my worst fear was that everything was going to go away and that I'm going to have a problem, that was instantaneously alleviated," Kennedy says. "We actually engendered a fair amount of good feeling from those decisions that we made of support and investment."

While that upgrade starts with voice, the real goal is upgrading them over time to UC, which blends all forms of real-time communications such as voice, video, SMS, instant messaging and the like.

These features are being melded into Avaya contact center features, enhancing what call agents can do and booting their productivity, but without being pushed as UC. For example, Avaya's platform enables individual agents to handle a voice call plus five other communications links at the same time either to multi task among many customers or to draw more parties into a particular customer session in order to resolve requests.

This type of innovation is being led by Avaya Labs, an 800-person division of the company that acts "like a start-up that wants to be acquired by Avaya," says Brett Shockley, the vice president who heads up the labs. He wants to aggressively grab the most interesting software technology the labs is working on and herd it as quickly as possible into new products if it shows potential -- what he calls crossing the chasm from applications to products. "We've got to figure this innovation thing out. We try to innovate so the new stuff is transformational," he says.

The model he uses includes a customer proof-of-concept stage where select customers receive software early on and try it out, an acid test to determine "whether it's relevant or if it's just geeks playing with technology," Shockely says. This gets these potential product ideas in customer hands a year or two earlier than previously, quickly weeding out the duds and accelerating the development of the winners that will go on to become actual products. Those ideas that have potential are brought to market-quality interface and deployed in customer networks soon thereafter before being officially launched and supported by the Avaya sales force.

This is a departure from secrecy that formerly shrouded the lab's work, getting ideas out quickly to customers and getting feedback, Shockley says.

Some of the things the labs has been working on include a virtual reality environment gleaned from the Nortel acquisition that can be used as a collaboration tool for training and as a Web sales tool, as is the case with the Lenovo Web site, he says.

Kennedy is putting pressure on the company to deliver quickly, and based on his track record at Cisco overseeing mergers, he stands a good chance of success, Kerravala says. "Failure there wasn't an option," he says.

Meanwhile, Kennedy says he is moving past breaking business communications into discrete products such as contact centers and PBXs and thinking about them as parts of a single communications system that manages all means of real-time communication. "I believe over time what is now thought of as unified communications and call centers and such really begins to become a company more focused on multimodal collaboration," he says. "That's quite a walk from a PBX company, but I think that's where we're headed."

Read more about lans and routers in Network World's LANs & Routers section.

Cisco goes green with Catalyst 3750-X

Buy less equipment, use less power: That's a proposition network managers can get behind, and it's what Cisco promises with the new power management features in its Catalyst 3750-X stackable access switch.

Read daily news about Cisco

As this exclusive Clear Choice test demonstrates, Cisco makes good on that promise with StackPower, a means of pooling power among switches in a stack. Testing validated that StackPower can cut both capital and operational costs.

The switches also support PoE+, a new method of lighting up power-hungry Web cameras, 802.11n Wi-Fi access points, and other devices requiring more juice than the old PoE standard can supply.


We verified full PoE+ operation on 48 switch ports concurrently, and ran the switch through a rigorous battery of conformance tests developed by Sifos Technologies. Those tests turned up only minor issues, none of which should affect interoperability.

The 3750-X offers other new features, such as MACSec encryption and Smart Operations deployment software, on top of what is already a lengthy features list. We focused on the new switch's power management capabilities.

Power-sharing arrangement

StackPower offers a means of pooling power supplies within a stack and making wattage available to any switch as needed. The advantages include savings on power and power supplies; redundancy with no extra footprint; and a prioritization scheme that first cuts power to lower-priority ports in case a power supply fails.

StackPower connections are conceptually similar to the StackWise Plus links supported in earlier Catalyst 3750 switches, with multiple switches connected in a ring topology. The switches continue to share power if a connection fails, something we verified in testing. (While StackPower works only with the new X series switches, StackWise Plus works between newer and older Catalyst 3750 models.)

Ethernet cheat sheet

Up to four Catalyst 3750-X switches can form a StackPower ring. This is fewer than the nine switches supported in StackWise Plus. However, a nine-switch StackPower unit still can be formed through the use of an XPS-2200, an external redundant power system that connects to the switches using a star topology. We did not test the XPS-2200.

Cost savings is StackPower's most obvious benefit. Given the importance network managers typically place on high availability, it's not uncommon to find redundant power supplies in every switch throughout the enterprise. With StackPower, it's possible to purchase fewer power supplies and still obtain N+1 redundancy for power supplies in a ring (or N:1 redundancy if using the XPS-2000).

For example, if each of three switches in a stack consumes 200 watts, the aggregate power draw is 600 watts. With 715-watt power supplies, full N+1 redundancy would involve six power supplies at $1,000 each, supplying up to 4,290 watts.

In contrast, the StackPower could run the same stack with as few as two 715-watt power supplies. That's a savings of four power supplies or $4,000, and a rated capacity of only 1,430 watts, with the same level of redundancy.

While many other stackable switches support an external redundant power supply, this is the first system we're aware of that provides internal redundancy, and thus requires no extra rack space.

The new power system also boosts resiliency through strict and redundant configuration modes that allocate and reserve only as much power as is required. If one or more power supplies fails, the switch will begin shedding power using a three-tier prioritization scheme. This prioritization could be used, for example, to protect power over Ethernet (PoE) ports by first shutting down other ports.

Assessing PoE+

Another new feature is support for the new PoE+ standard. As described in the IEEE 802.3at specification, PoE+ offers up to 30 watts per switch port, nearly double the 15.4 watts supplied by first-generation PoE equipment.

As far as we could determine, the Catalyst 3750-X is among the first switches to concurrently support PoE+ on all 48 ports without requiring an external power supply. We put that claim to the test using the PowerSync analyzer from Sifos Technologies. (Sifos provides PoE and Ethernet PHY automated test and measurement solutions for network equipment and semiconductor manufacturers, test labs, system integrators, field service and IT departments.)

Using the Sifos analyzers, we assessed PoE+ in two ways. First, we verified that the 3750-X could indeed supply 30 watts on all 48 gigabit Ethernet ports at the same time. The switch passed this test without complaint.

Second, we ran the full Sifos protocol conformance suite to measure how faithfully the new Cisco switch adheres to the IEEE 802.3at spec. Of hundreds of tests in this suite, the 3750-X failed just three, all relatively minor. Cisco says it's issuing a fix for these issues in new software scheduled for release in late August.

The first failure involved one field in the LLDP (logical link discovery protocol) packets that devices use to identify one another. This is a gray area in the 802.3at specification and might not be a problem in production networks.

Cisco uses a legacy value in the power-via-MDI (medium dependent interface) type-length-value field of LLDP packets rather than one of two values given by the IEEE standard. This has no impact on Cisco's PoE+ devices. It could be a problem for other vendors' powered devices – but only if those devices expect a specific return value. Even in that case, the device could still use PoE+ but might not support some extended features.

The second failure involved the time needed to go into a fully powered-up state. The IEEE spec expects power-supplying equipment to take no longer than 400 millisec between the instant of deciding to apply power and being fully powered up. The Cisco switch took slightly longer, as high as 465 millisec, on a few switch ports. Other ports were within the 400-millisec limit.

The higher times are probably due to Cisco's use of IOS to handle power-management decisions as opposed to the PoE+ logic itself in dedicated power injectors. The 400-millisec limit is in place to minimize the risk of a device being unplugged during power-up and has no impact on interoperability.

The final failure had to do with the way the switch restricts current as it powers up. This is mostly to protect the switch in case a powered device demands too much current. The IEEE spec requires the switch to go into a current-limited state for at least 50 millisec but no longer than 75 millisec. The Sifos analyzer reported that a few Cisco switch ports remained in a current-limited state for at least 100 millisec. This issue is unlikely to have any impact on device interoperability.

Above and beyond these minor issues, network managers may need to reconsider power and cooling budgets when rolling out PoE+.

A large-scale 802.3at deployment requires a lot of power – in this test, 1,440 watts just for PoE+ alone on 48 ports, with additional wattage needed for other switch functions. With all that power in use, PoE+ installations also throw off far more heat than their PoE predecessors. Older wiring closets with a single 15-amp circuit and poor ventilation unfortunately are all too common in enterprise networks; these aren't good candidates for supporting many ports of PoE+.

Power consumption

As a final test of the Catalyst 3750-X's power management features, we measured power consumption in various configurations, both idle and fully loaded.

We used three tools for this: a Fluke 335 TrueRMS clamp meter for the power measurement itself; the Sifos analyzer to load up PoE+ ports; and a Spirent TestCenter traffic generator/analyzer to blast the switch with line-rate traffic on all ports.

With a single 1,150-watt power supply, one switch consumed around 141 watts idle and 150 watts fully loaded. These figures are virtually identical to those measured on a Cisco Catalyst 3570-E in Network World's early 2008 access switch comparison.

Power consumption was only about 50% higher, not double, when the same single power supply drove two 3750-X switches in a stack. And with PoE+ enabled and line rate traffic offered to 48 gigabit Ethernet ports, a two-switch stack equipped with two power supplies consumed about 1,800 watts (the slight differences with and without traffic are within the Fluke instrument's measurement resolution). As noted, PoE+ alone consumes 1,440 watts of the total. The two switches use the remaining 364 watts, or around 182 watts each, comfortably within Cisco's rated maximum of 246 watts per switch.

With these new power features, the Catalyst 3750-X extends an already lengthy features list. StackPower and PoE+ provide an innovative way to pool power and to support power-hungry new devices.

Newman is a member of the Network World Lab Alliance and president of Network Test, an independent test lab and engineering services consultancy. He can be reached at dnewman@networktest.com.

Latest Cisco Offering: 'Collaboration for Events' Features INXPO Virtual Platform

SOURCE: INXPO

Jul 26, 2010 06:00 ET

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - July 26, 2010) - Cisco Systems has integrated several leading edge technologies to create "Collaboration for Events" to help their customers extend the reach and improve the experience of their events. With the offering, Cisco aims to transform the event industry, by leveraging web conferencing, TelePresence and online video sharing to dramatically improve event effectiveness.

Cisco outlines the future of events in a whitepaper titled "Cisco's Experience with Next-Generation Events," which describes how Cisco developed the "Collaboration for Events" offering based on their use of related technologies to enhance their own events. The INXPO virtual events and business platform is a key component and a major contributor to the positive results cited in Cisco's Next-Generation Events solution.

The Cisco "Strategic Event Management Framework" categorizes different event types using two dimensions: Audience Type and Complexity. Cisco's largest and most complex events, which include Cisco Global Sales Experience, Cisco Live (user conference) and the Cisco Virtual Partner Summit are all hosted on the INXPO platform.

With the most flexible and scalable platform in the industry, INXPO is able to support the widest range of events, from self-service turnkey events to significant global gatherings. For Cisco, INXPO supports a wide range of events from 500 attendee employee-only events to 5,000+ user conferences to 17,000+ global sales meetings to a 24/7/365 community with over 45,000 members.

In the Cisco Global Sales Experience (GSX) in 2009, George P. Johnson and INXPO helped Cisco achieve the following results:

  • 86% cost savings: (from $65 million to $9 million)
  • $19 million in productivity and time savings (reduced employee travel)
  • 46% increase in breakout sessions (from 37 to 54)
  • 34,000 tons of carbon emissions eliminated

INXPO is actively working with Cisco and George P. Johnson on Cisco GSX 2010, which promises to be another groundbreaking experience.

"We share Cisco's vision of next generation of events and are excited to be part of Cisco's Collaboration for Events offering. INXPO continues to innovate with Cisco to advance event experiences," said Chris Meyer, Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing, INXPO. "The flexibility and integration capabilities our platform provides have enabled many Cisco technologies, including WebEx, to create a seamless event experience to the end user," said Meyer.

"We are thrilled to be part of Cisco's next generation events vision. Companies like Cisco, TechTarget, UBM and Autodesk place their trust in the scalability, reliability and flexibility of INXPO's innovative platform and we look forward to advancing event experiences with all of our clients and partners," said Malcolm Lotzof, CEO INXPO.

About INXPO Inc.
INXPO is the leading provider of privately branded virtual events and virtual business environments that connect, engage and educate audiences. The InXpo Platform delivers a full suite of applications including Virtual Trade Shows, Virtual Career Fairs, Virtual Events & Conferences, and Virtual Communities as well as Audio and Video Webcasts. These virtual solutions are transforming the web by dramatically reducing travel time and related costs, in addition to making the world a greener place to live.

INXPO enables organizations to cost-effectively communicate with their worldwide communities for lead generation, peer-to-peer networking, training, internal and external communications, as well as generate new online revenue opportunities. INXPO has delivered more than 1,000 successful virtual events and experiences for global customers and publishers including AAA, Cisco, Forbes, HIMSS, GE Healthcare, PennWell, SAP, TechTarget, UBM and Ziff Davis Enterprises. The company is headquartered in Chicago. For more information, visit http://www.inxpo.com

Media Contact INXPO:
Mike Westcott
617.803.9383
PR@InXpo.com

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cisco Joins Hands with OneCommunity to Revitalize Northern Ohio


By Carolyn J Dawson, TMCnet Contributor

Cisco (News - Alert) partners with OneCommunity, a chief player in developing public-private partnerships and a nonprofit broadband service provider which supports northern Ohio, for transforming the region with dynamic citizen and government programs. The pilot programs, which will be a part of Cisco's global Smart+Connected Communities efforts, will include implementing Cisco technologies through a service delivery platform for enhancing citizen quality of life, spur economic development and reducing the cost of government operations.

Northern Ohio has a prosperous history in industry and manufacturing innovation. Leaders from both the public and private sectors are now turning to the advanced technologies for transforming the region's economy to one founded on healthcare, education and technology. To attend to this transition, Cisco and OneCommunity (News - Alert) have joined hands with local governments to share the digital infrastructure, capabilities and services that are required for dedicated citizen services and public safety programs.

In a release, Wim Elfrink, the chief globalization officer and executive vice president at Cisco Services said, "Cisco believes communities that are able to use the latest advances in information technology will be best positioned to meet the demands for long-term social, economic and environmental sustainability. In working with a dedicated organization such as OneCommunity, Cisco is able to help equip this region with the solutions and services necessary to become a smart and connected community and propel economic growth, security and the quality of living for citizens."

The city of Akron will be using Cisco's network-driven collaboration technologies for offering several community services through advanced online portals. Another application will also allow the city to schedule community activities in more than 100 separate facilities at Akron's new Community Learning Centers.

In a release, Scot Rourke, president and CEO of OneCommunity said, "OneCommunity is dedicated to providing the thought leadership and technical platform to transform. Our many regional public and private partnerships, combined with our sharing of resources, have begun to enhance our global competiveness, attract investment, and create jobs. In working with an innovative company like Cisco, we are thrilled to see a series of promising pilot programs taking shape across the region and transforming the way individuals live, learn and conduct business within our communities."

Prepare your Small Business for Success in the Cloud

Take advantage of the cloud while minimizing the risks


cloud pic.jpg


I’ve heard some small business owners refer to concerns about reliability in cloud computing. I think it’s important that you understand these risks and limit them as best you can.

In my last article, Cloud computing: What it is and how your small business can benefit, I explained the concept of “cloud computing” and its relevance to small business as an affordable, flexible option for computing needs. Now I will probe into the ways in which you can experience these benefits while reducing the risks that come with internet-based services.

For a quick refresher, cloud computing ranges from web-based email, to centralized storage, to online productivity applications like QuickBooks. By placing these services in the Cloud rather than on your hard drive, you can access them on-demand from multiple locations, and adjust the services you subscribe to as your business grows.

On the flip side, web-based services inherently have the potential to experience downtime. Whether it is caused by a bad connection from your service provider, a dysfunctional network device at your business, or a glitch in the application server, downtime is bad for users of the online applications. As evidenced by recent cloud incidents, downtime prevents businesses from accessing vital information, whether it be ledgers, email, or invoices.

Small businesses need to be smart about their cloud strategy, both in selecting which services to move to the cloud, and in building redundancy into their networks. Here are some tips for successfully utilizing cloud services:

1. Perform a technology assessment within your business: Identify where your business is experiencing technology-related challenges, both related to cost and performance. Whether your telephone bill is too expensive, your word processing applications are out-of-date, or you need to add secure storage on-demand, there are cloud services to address your needs. In the areas where cost and performance aren't issues, it may not make sense to adopt cloud services.

2. Build redundancy into your technology infrastructure: When a device fails, there should always be a back-up plan that enables your business to operate as usual. By buying a router that offers 3G, your business can stay connected when the regular connection fails. When looking into Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone systems from your service provider, make sure to find one capable of reverting to the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network in the event of an Internet failure.

3. Save hard copies of your data: Many programs, such as Google Docs, enable you to download and save to your hard drive. Then you can open the file with another program, such as Word

With all the risks at hand, why do businesses invest in cloud services, and why do industry experts predict the continued growth of the “as-a-service” model? Simply put, cloud services make sense in so many ways. Check out Cisco’s newly released Cloud White Paper to see how Cisco can help customers embrace the Cloud to transform their businesses.

by Jeff Beckham on Jul 22, 2010 2:17:20 PM


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nortel BCM Versus Avaya IP Office - New Product Comparison

Cost-effective Communication Using Nortel's BCM, Avaya IP Office

VoIP offers an inexpensive and in many cases, a fixed cost to your telephone bills. You can make unlimited calls to any destination with this solution. Many service providers such as Nortel and Avaya offer VoIP solutions for the home and office. Each solution has its unique features and is suitable for a wide variety of users. Listed below are some of the pros and cons associated with Avaya's IP office and Nortel's BCM solutions:

Avaya's IP Office

Suitable for Small Businesses

Avaya's IP Office- as the name suggests, is meant for small businesses such as home offices and offices with up to 250 employees. It comes in three variants - so allows you to control costs even further. It offers a lot of flexibility such as ease of communicating via laptop, mobile phone, office phone, and home phone through wireless devices, wired devices, or broadband. This unified messaging system is a great hit with employees and a productivity booster.

Also, each employee's needs vary - your receptionist uses the phone differently when compared to your travelling knowledge worker. Avaya's solution helps each employee choose their individual mode of communication, thereby satisfying all.

Teleconferencing with up to 64 People

Apart from reducing telephoning costs, Avaya's solution also cuts costs in other ways. Each Avaya IP Office unit comes with two built-in 64-party teleconferencing bridges. This ensures that you spend nothing extra on conference calls. The latest version of Avaya's IP Office has the ability to record conference calls, a definite plus point for most businesses.

Though point-to-point video calling is possible, video conferencing is not an option yet in Avaya's product.

Like the Avaya IP Office product, Nortel's BCM too supports conferencing. Some of the conferencing features are available only in specific models, so be sure to pick the right model if you require conferencing facilities.

Built-in Redundancy to Reduce Missed Calls

Yet another advantage with Avaya is the built-in resilience factor. This ensures that in case of a power outage, calls are automatically routed to your other office location, thereby greatly reducing the number of missed calls.

One problem with this solution is that you need a minimum of two office locations for it to work.

Centrally Administered to Reduce Operating Costs

Avaya's office solution can be easily managed from a central location. This reduces the need to have more than one administrator to manage the entire system. Besides, the system itself proactively identifies potential problem areas, thereby preventing major communication outages.

Call Center Solutions including Call Recording Facility

Avaya offers call center solutions as well in its IP Office product. The latest offering from Avaya can also record calls - a plus point in call center operations. IP Office 500 can support up to 32 sites and offers geographical redundancy as well.

While Avaya's IP Office is a great product, so is Nortel's BCM, it too has a host of similar features. Apart from the standard features, Nortel's BCM has some unique applications as well. Some of these include:

IP and IP-enabled Services for Unified Messaging

Nortel's BCM or Business Communication Manager can offer both IP and IP-enabled services. The system offers unified messaging just like Avaya. It also offers the user the flexibility to use call center applications and interactive voice response systems.

Scalable to Support Growth

Nortel's BCM is a scalable model, meaning you can start small and upgrade it as your business grows. This system can support up to 250 employees, the same number as Avaya's product. Some of its great features include a message box where you receive messages and leave a voice greeting. These can be password protected and will provide information such as caller ID and time of receipt of call.

The BCM also allows universal Internet access. Besides, it permits computer telephony integration. This ensures that you can use third-party PC based solutions to control your telephone services.

Easy Mobility for Enhanced Productivity

The entire Nortel BCM system is easy to set up and use. It offers converged voice, data, and Internet services that are easy to manage from a central point. Multiple location networks can be controlled from a centralized office location. Again, this saves on administrator costs. The access is mobile, enabling people to take their communication equipment where ever they go. By freeing people from their desks, overall business productivity is increased.

Security of Communication

The entire network and all communications are absolutely secure in the case of both Avaya and Nortel's products. Moreover, IP telephony is less expensive than conventional telephony, so you save on costs as well. With this VoIP solution, one no longer needs a conventional telephone to talk to a colleague across the world. A computer and a headset will do just as well.

Paging Facility

Unlike the Avaya product, Nortel's offering has an advanced paging facility. This is of great use if your employees need to be away from their desks frequently. Nortel also offers an integrated voice response solution in the basic BCM product.

Voice Clarity

Both Avaya and Nortel offer superior voice clarity when making calls - both local and international.

Both Avaya and Nortel's solutions are ideal for small offices. They offer a lot of flexibility in terms of usage. Nortel scores by being more scalable. If you plan to increase staff strength in the long term, then choose Nortel as their solution offers better scalability.

These VoIP solutions not only reduce telephoning costs, but also enhance productivity with their great features. As these systems support unified communication and mobility, they are ideal for both small and medium businesses. Whether you have telecommuting workers or not, these are a great solution to your communication needs. They are robust enough to prevent outages, so you need not fear for breaks in communication capacity.

If you are looking for more information on Avaya IP Office visit: http://www.avaya-ipoffice.net

For More info on the BCM System Visit: http://www.bcm50.com

This article was provided by Scott Camball of TRC Networks, Our website address is http://www.trcnetworks.com

Browse our site and learn why we have become so well regarded as the top telephony company in the GTA. We provide services in Toronto, Southern Ontario, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver. Also, we offer our services in many other Canadian and American market places with Nortel, Avaya, and Cisco.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cisco Partner Perspectives on Video, Borderless Networks, and Growth

“Video will be the next voice and there’s a video solution for everyone—from the desktop all the way to HD TelePresence, and everything in between.”

During Cisco Live in Las Vegas, we caught up with partners from Dimension Data who talked to us about borderless networks, growth opportunities, and what Cisco can do to help partners be more profitable. We got some great responses, like the one above.

Raoul Tecala from Dimension Data told us that he’s taking discussions with clients to another level, talking about things like long-term video strategy, the impact of video on their network, and overall network readiness.

What else did partners have to say at Cisco Live? Find out…

Further down the road, Tecala sees the idea of true, pervasive video as compelling. If video is going to constitute 90% of all traffic by 2015, he said, there will be some serious ramifications for the underlying network.

He also sees the rapid growth of mobility, including the new Cius and iPad, changing the dynamic of what a borderless network really means.

In another interview, below, Shaun Struckmann of Dimension Data told us that he thinks video will be the next voice. He also talked about UC, saying that being able to grow and shrink the size of your applications on demand will be hot in the next 6-12 months.

by Alexandra Krasne at 01:54PM PST

Avaya Opens First Stretch of New Aura-Based Product Highway

By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor, tmcnet.com

Earlier this year, Avaya released its road map for customers and prospects following its acquisition of the former Nortel (News - Alert) enterprise solutions. Since then it has been building out its new highway.

Avaya has now cut the ribbon on the first stretch with a suite of new and enhanced contact center and unified communications “UC” product innovations and services based on the Avaya Aura platform. It has also announced when other new sections will be opening.

Akin to when new roads are opened, Avaya’s offering promise firms to reach their objectives quicker, with less hassle and expense. It says its releases, “redefine the economics and effectiveness of real-time, multi-media enterprise communications.” It estimates that Avaya Aura can save large enterprises approximately 23 percent in capital expenditures and another 33 percent in operating expenditures, according to a recent survey conducted it; mid-sized enterprises typically save even more. For example, by following Avaya’s route firms can communications-enable their business applications “up to 80 percent faster than by using traditional methods.”

These new tools and services, says Avaya, “make it possible to simultaneously accelerate decision-making and achieve meaningful financial impact, while moving enterprises towards a more people-centric approach to collaboration.”

These solutions include:

* Avaya Aura Contact Center, which is a new multimedia contact center application that extends to all types of media, including voice, e-mail, web chat, and instant messaging/SMS

* Avaya Agile (News - Alert) Communications Environment (ACE) facilitates the development of communications-enabled business applications to speed business workflow. Avaya ACE 2.2 includes Event Response Manager, a new packaged application that automatically notifies the right people with the right skills to respond to and manage unexpected events, such as inventory shortages and security breaches. A new developer toolkit makes it easier to embed timely and personalized communications into business applications

* Avaya Aura Conferencing, now available in Standard Edition, provides rich audio, video and Web conferencing features on a single server that reduces management and power requirements. The Enterprise Edition, available later this year, will expand capacity and features to enable internal operator assistance, emergency blast dialing and more. Both editions integrate with UC applications from Avaya, Microsoft (News - Alert), IBM and Adobe

* Avaya Aura Messaging provides rich multimedia messaging with choices for accessing and storing messages. The first release of this Linux-based solution is specifically designed to enable Octel users to easily migrate to the new platform by maintaining the familiar user interface while delivering new features such as speech-to-text and speech-based virtual assistants

* Avaya Aura Presence Services offers an open standards-based, native instant messaging solution with federated presence and IM across Microsoft, IBM (News - Alert), Avaya one-X Communicator and Avaya one-X Agent and Avaya 9600 SIP phones

* Avaya Aura Session Manager 6.0 now scales to over 100,000 users, including 50,000 SIP phones and video capable endpoints

* Avaya Aura Communication Manager 6.0 can now be deployed as an Evolution server for easy migration of mixed H.323/TDM endpoints to SIP environments or a full SIP-based voice and video feature server

* Avaya Aura Session Border Controller (SBC) allows enterprises to securely connect real time, SIP-based unified communications to the rapidly growing number of IP-based devices, smart phones and applications both within and external to a company. The SBC protects a customer’s network and connected devices from attacks such as denial of service, spoofing attacks, “man in the middle,” or access through unused VoIP ports

* Avaya Aura System Manager 6.0 provides for a common management system across Avaya Aura that now extends to Presence Services, Conferencing and Messaging, making it easier to administer and manage Avaya Aura components from one central location

* Avaya Aura System Platform 6.0, Avaya’s virtualization technology, now encompasses all elements of the Avaya Aura architecture and applications portfolio, eliminating up to 80 percent of hardware compared to competitive solutions while reducing management, power requirements and costs

* Avaya 9600 family of desk phones now offer larger, color touch screen displays at a lower price point, function on lower power and provide a low total cost of ownership (TCO). A new value-priced SIP model, the Avaya 1603SW-I, provides a low-cost option for small- to large sized businesses

The company also issues a new release of Avaya Communications Server 1000 (CS1000), which increases scalability, adds support for the IPv6 protocol and enhances SIP support and connectivity. The continued investment in Avaya CS1000 it says “provides installed customers with a smooth migration path into Avaya Aura and supports many of the just-announced applications.”

Many of these new products and enhancements are as a result from the Nortel purchase including the CS 1000 and the ACE. The Avaya Aura Contact Center is a new Avaya product that leverages a blend of technologies from pre-integration Avaya and Nortel.

More than 200 individual beta trials and or full implementations of Avaya solutions announced today are already underway. All Avaya solutions announced today are available now or will be available during the third quarter of 2010 through Avaya or authorized Avaya Connect Channel Partners.

The new and expanded products are supported by Avaya Advisory Services, which provide consulting expertise for multi-vendor communications infrastructures and Avaya’s broad ecosystem of developer and channel partners. New to the Avaya Advisory Services is a Self-Funded Roadmap to help companies transform cost savings from prior technology deployments into process improvements to fund future technology investments.

Avaya Aura applications and architecture are complemented by Avaya’s recently announced data networking solutions and network management products, which it says offer up to 50 percent less TCO than the leading competitor, and are specifically built to handle the demands of real-time communications. Designed from the ground up to optimize video, mobile and voice interactions, Avaya’s fit-for-purpose, enterprise communications and data solutions deliver peak performance, efficiency and resiliency with a smaller footprint that reduces the cost and energy requirements of converging communications networks.

“In today’s evolving business communications environment, companies demand the right technology approach to ensure superior experiences for employees and the customers they serve,” said Kevin Kennedy (News - Alert), president and CEO of Avaya. “Avaya’s latest series of innovations accomplishes this through faster, more efficient orchestration of people and information. Making smart business decisions quickly can be difficult, but connecting the right people to solve issues in real-time should be both simple and cost-effective.”

New Avaya Aura Contact Center Drives Real-Time Collaboration and Agent Productivity; Can Improve Customer Satisfaction by up to 50 Percent


Basking Ridge, NJ – Avaya, a global leader in enterprise communications systems, software and services, introduced its next-generation of contact center solutions to meet the real-time demands of a rapidly evolving customer service environment. The new solutions – which include innovations in multimedia work assignment, workforce optimization and outbound self-service – can help businesses more effectively manage customer experiences in an always-on world. These advancements drive improvements in customer satisfaction, agent productivity, and cost-savings throughout contact center operations.

Central to the new offerings is Avaya Aura™ Contact Center, a multimedia work assignment application for mid-size contact centers that connects customers and their information to the right agent or expert via any communications mode (i.e. voice, video, e-mail, chat). It uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based collaborative session model of Avaya Aura – the company's business communications applications platform – to enhance the efficiency and quality of customer service. Avaya Aura Contact Center complements the large enterprise solutions of Avaya Aura Call Center Elite, and will serve as its multimedia extension.

Avaya Aura Contact Center's collaboration capabilities help a business understand the full context of a customer interaction – including the customer's mode of communications, history and present needs. The solution also brings collaborative sessions to customer service, eliminating the process of having customers repeat information to several people as they progress through a call. By bringing the customer, agent and expert into a session to share information, a company can reduce customer frustrations, increase first-contact resolution and enhance experiences. Through this approach, Avaya Aura Contact Center can improve customer satisfaction by up to 50 percent.1

Customer experiences are critical, yet most businesses are not aware of the disconnect they have with their own customers. A study by Webtorials Editorial shows that 80 percent of companies believe they provide a good or superior customer experience, while only 20 percent of consumers agree. Additionally, 82 percent of consumers say their experience with the contact center is important or very important in their opinion about a company's image.

"SIP and web services enable contact centers to do what used to require highly customized and costly computer telephony integrations (CTI) to accomplish," said Drew Kraus, research vice president, Gartner, Inc. "It makes multi-modal customer service widely accessible, instead of limited to just big-budget contact centers. With continued adoption of multi-modal contact centers, and an evolving social media space, SIP is a growing area of interest for companies."

Avaya Aura Contact Center also enables increased agent productivity, since agents no longer have to juggle separate communications channels across multiple systems. A single desktop agent application can be used to track and manage up to six types of transactions simultaneously – one voice and five non-voice (email, web chat, etc). It also lets businesses deliver advanced work items, such as online applications or claims, to agent desktops via an 'open universal queue', which used to require a separate workstream. Additionally, during incoming customer instant messages or chats, the solution identifies context-sensitive keywords, which are matched up with prepared textual responses the agent can use to speed interactions. Keywords can also be used to create a list of relevant available experts, reducing the time spent searching for them.2
New Solutions Deliver End-to-End Experience Management

All of today's introductions provide a foundation for end-to-end Experience Management, which uses open communications so businesses can orchestrate people and information, learn customer data, bring full context to sessions, and immerse agents and customers into a collaborative session. Other new solutions unveiled today include:
Avaya Aura™ Workforce Optimization (WFO): Avaya introduces its first integrated offer in workforce optimization, enabling companies to make more informed decisions about customer service. WFO includes recording and quality monitoring to capture and synchronize an agent’s audio and screen activity so supervisors can see the full scope of interactions. Insight gained through quality monitoring has been forecast to reduce agent training time by 30 percent.3

The solution also includes a workforce management application that collects information and historical trends from a contact center, such as call volumes for a given time, to determine ideal staffing requirements. This reduces excess costs and accelerates return on investment. More effective workforce scheduling can lead to a 20 percent cost-reduction.4
Avaya Proactive Outreach Manager: Designed to let businesses reach out to customers via self-service, Proactive Outreach Manager places all multimedia interactions on a single platform. This enables businesses to go beyond outbound calling to more effectively use outbound notification campaigns incorporating several modes of communications. Hotels, for example, can use it to send room availability notices and promotions, while manufacturers can more effectively provide real-time updates on shipments.
Outbound self-service can drive new revenues and savings, with one customer reporting a 10 percent increase in payments, and $50,000 in annual savings from automated appointment reminders. This solution also delivers the ability to manage both outbound and inbound self-service using a Web browser accessible system, simplifying management and reducing the costs of outbound self-service, since the same systems can now be used for both functions.
Other introductions include Avaya Aura™ Call Center Elite 6.0, the new version of Avaya’s call routing software for large enterprises, which now offers greater capacity and includes the adaptive, predictive routing capabilities of Business Advocate as an entitlement. The company also delivers Avaya IQ 5.1, the company's powerful reporting and analytics solution, which gains improved capacity (900 simultaneous users), availability, and graphical views.

"As next-generation communications takes hold, businesses recognize that customer expectations continue to move in one direction – up," said Anthony Bartolo, general manager, Contact Center Solutions, Avaya. "Avaya Aura Contact Center and our new people-centric collaboration solutions provide the tools to more effectively manage experiences, both for customers and the agents who serve them."
Avaya is the 2009 leader in the worldwide contact center market (measured by contact center agent end user revenue),5 and 88 percent of Bloomberg Businessweek's 2010 Customer Service Champs use Avaya contact center solutions.6
ATGStores to Raise Real-Time Customer Service Levels with Avaya Aura Contact Center

A business preparing to reap the benefits of Avaya Aura Contact Center is Washington-based ATGStores, a premier shopping destination for industry professionals and homeowners wanting to build, remodel, and beautify their homes and businesses. The online retailer features over 3 million products from more than 1,800 name brand manufacturers – including lighting, plumbing, furniture, hardware, appliances, and more.
With 96 percent of its business conducted virtually, ATGStores counts on their contact center for driving customer interactions and real-time customer service. The company expects Avaya’s latest offering to enhance multimedia customer communications, helping to improve agent productivity and customer experiences.
"Our goal is to deliver 'one-touch resolution’'where a customer's question or problem is solved right then and there," said Brad Halbach, vice president, ATGStores. "To do this, our agents must quickly understand customer needs, gather pertinent information, and seamlessly bring in experts. We require the best tools for multi-tasking across all types of interactions, and Avaya Aura Contact Center is the solution we've been waiting for. I'm looking forward to the software's ability to create collaborative sessions, with key data intact."
According to Halbach, Avaya Aura Contact Center is a great fit for an online business like ATGStores, which has seen Web chat interactions more than double since coming into use. He expects agents to benefit from managing Web chat and other customer interactions via the solution’s single streamlined portal, instead of using multiple interaction windows. For example, a phone order for a chandelier, a Web chat on a faucet question, and an e-mail inquiry about a new crib can be more easily tracked and handled by agents.
ATGStores is owned by Allied Trade Group, which owns and operates an extended family of more than 500 online stores, including Lighting Universe, Fixture Universe and Outdoor Living Showroom. For more information, visit their web site at ATGStores.com.
For additional information, including a detailed backgrounder on the new Avaya contact center products and a white paper, please visit the Avaya press room online at: http://www.avaya.com/gcm/master-usa/en-us/corporate/pressroom/index.htm
JOIN AVAYA FOR THE LAUNCH: Avaya will host a series of global one-hour webcasts on today's announcement for customers, partners and other interested parties. To register for the webcast associated with your location, please click on one of the following links:
  • For the US, starting at 1:00 pm EDT today, click here.
  • For Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America and South America, starting at 2:30 pm EDT today, click here.
  • For Asia-Pacific, starting at 11:30 pm EDT today, click here.
  • For Europe, Middle East and Africa, starting at 5:00 am EDT, Wednesday, July 21, click here.