Monday, November 28, 2011

Avaya Evolutions Toronto Recap

The annual Evolutions show is one of my favorite days of the year. Once again this year, I wish to thank all of you who came out to support the show - our customers, partners, analysts, consultants and members of the press. In all, we had 1,200 people came to join us to hear from industry experts, thought leaders and see some amazing product demos in the tradeshow area. For those of you who missed the show, here is a quick recap.

To kick things off, Avaya Canada president Ross Pelizzarri and I introduced the concept of "The Power of We" through the Power of Music, and were joined onstage by 8 piece Acapella group Retrocity. Retrocity built up an excellent vocal rendition of Toto's Africa.

ross and rob.jpg

Ross Pelizzarri then had a little fun introducing John Dilullo to a new Canadian hockey jersey. After donning the jersey, John reiterated Avaya's $165 Million commitment to R&D in Canada. Many of the products on display at Evolutions, including IP Office, Web.Alive, Handset software, ACE and many others are engineered in our Belleville and Ottawa facilities.

john dilullo.jpg

Fellow bloggers Phil Edholm, Chris McGugan and Rejean Bourgeault took to the stage and discussed the vision guiding Avaya innovations in UC and Contact Center. Look for videos shortly!

The tradeshow floor really shined this year, with excellent demos on Avaya Aura Contact Center, Data Solutions, IP Office (DR and Radio solutions!), a FlareTM zone and ACE zone. Thank you to our partners who integrated amazing mobility solutions into their booths as well.


The main sessions ended with a great keynote from Don Tapscott. I highly recommend his most recent book, Macrowikinomics. Don's speech was exceptional, touching on the end of the industrial age, and the launching of the connected age - including the need for better collaboration to drive real global transformation. Check out more here.


During the day, we ran a Twitter contest. Over 1300 tweets were sent from the show - a big congratulations to @neilhyndman, who won the iPAD2 that was up for grabs.


Finally, we finished with a cocktail reception and prize draw - amazing prizes were available to be won. As part of the prize draw, Unity Telecom sponsored an appearance by Darryl Sittler, who was on hand all day greeting customers and presented one of his signed sticks to a lucky winner.


Thank you again for all of you who participated in this year's show. Look for us in Montreal on February 16, 2012 and Calgary on March 8, 2012. Save the dates for next year's Toronto show will be out shortly!

By 2016, Smartphones Are Expected to Account for 90.8 Percent of All Handsets Sold in the U.K.

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Research and Markets( has announced the addition of the “The United Kingdom Telecom Intelligence Report: Content and Connectivity Provide Growth Opportunities for UK Telcos” report to their offering.

The mobile penetration rate in the U.K. is expected to reach 152.8 percent (or 98 million subscriptions) by 2016, which will be driven by the growth in data card adoption and M2M service uptake, says Olena Kaplan, Associate Analyst at Pyramid Research. Pyramid Research expects smartphone adoption to increase by 40 percent by 2016, up from 50 percent in 2011. The growing demand for simultaneous data access by multiple devices, which will be met by 4G technology following the 4G license auction in 2012, will result in mobile data service revenue reaching 7.7 billion ($11.7 billion) by 2016, she adds.

The service revenue decline seen in 2010 will continue, with the UK market accounting for 34.7bn ($53.8bn) in service revenue in 2011. The introduction of MTR cuts in April 2011, together with the EU reduction of roaming prices, will result in mobile voice declining at a CAGR of -2.73% (-3% in USD) in local currency terms over the forecast period. The growing popularity of Internet access, combined with the growing affordability of high-speed broadband, will result in broadband service revenue growing at a CAGR of 4.53% in local terms, reaching 5.1bn ($7.8bn) by 2016. The government’s high-speed broadband initiative will further assist the expansion of the network. The growing demand for simultaneous data access by multiple devices, which will be met by 4G technology following the 4G license auction in 2012, will result in mobile data service revenue reaching 7.7bn ($11.7bn) by 2016, demonstrating the expansion at a CAGR 2.18% of in local terms (1.9% in US).

For more information visit

The Biggest Business Opportunity in Bring-Your-Own Device

There’s a lot of talk about the post-PC era, but the reality is many Canadian organizations are still managing a huge fleet of desktops and have not truly taken advantage of the opportunities in this mobile-driven computing stack.

At Cisco, the shift toward Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) has brought a multitude of new devices, operating systems and architectures to the corporate world. But the biggest and most meaningful change these tablets, laptops and smartphones could have on your business is the complete transformation of the way your employees collaborate.

New tablets and smartphones launch just about every month – a trend that continues to push the bar higher and higher for mobile apps and HD video capabilities. But just allowing iPhone or Android-based devices into your business isn’t enough. Collaboration software and services need to fill in some key gaps.

Over the last few weeks, we have made a strong push to do this for businesses of all sizes, unveiling a plethora of upgraded products and services in our collaboration solution portfolio. All of our technology announcements aim to take collaboration mobile and beyond the desktop.

With our updated Cisco WebEx, users will now be able to engage in high-quality video meetings from their Cisco Cius, Apple iPhone and Apple iPad devices. WebEx users will also be able to access files and presentations in the cloud from their PC or mobile devices. The ability for users to connect to Cisco TelePresence meetings from their tablet or smartphone, means employees will finally have enterprise-grade collaboration away from the confines of their office. If you haven’t tried the Cius with built-in TelePresence yet, this video may change your mind.

We also upgraded our Jabber platform, adding a plug-in that gives users TelePresence capabilities on Apple, BlackBerry, Android, Nokia and Windows products.

For employees working from home, on the road or in a branch office, our WAAS offering has been optimized for Citrix XenDesktop and HDX technology to help deliver virtual desktop and apps to mobile devices faster and with less bandwidth than ever before. As collaboration tools rely more on HD video, rich media and voice, building out a strong IT infrastructure to do the heavy lifting is crucial to delivering media-rich content to tablets and smartphones.

Making it easier to communicate via video to your employees’ mobile devices, we also announced technology that will be particularly exciting for Canada’s crop of small and medium-sized businesses.

To mark the fifth anniversary of our landmark Cisco TelePresence product portfolio, we also released the Cisco TelePresence MX300, an affordable nine-person TelePresence system that can be set up in about 15 minutes. We’ve also upped the BYOD ante and integrated TelePresence with Cisco Jabber to allow users to join TelePresence calls from their desktop PCs, laptops and tablets.

In our dedication to provide professional solutions that enable BYOD and scale to small businesses, we also released upgrades to two IP telephony platforms in our Unified Communications portfolio. The Cisco Business Edition 3000 and Cisco Business Edition 6000 bring video, instant messaging and presence to mid-size businesses still using aging public branch exchange (PBX) systems. Seamless integration with Cisco Jabber for instant messaging and presence rounds out the new features.

While these products updates were the highlights, they are just a sampling of Cisco’s recent activity in the collaboration space. To dive deeper into our latest collaboration portfolio and check out new videos and technical briefings on key collaboration technologies, please visit the Cisco Collaboration Virtual Launch Experience site.

With the move to BYOD becoming a reality for businesses of all sizes, you need technology solutions that make it simple and secure for your employees collaborate and access the information they need on the device they want. For IT managers, opening up your environment to strange new devices might seem like a scary experience, but at Cisco we can help usher you into the era of BYOD worry-free. Besides, as the saying goes “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Utilizing the power of new endpoint devices to connect your employees together like never before can empower your business to become more mobile, social, visual and virtual.

Embrace the post-PC era!

Cisco Continues to Help Customers Transform Their Business

By Blair Pleasant

At the annual Cisco Collaboration Summit in beautiful Miami Beach, analysts and consultants got to hear about several new product announcements, hear from Cisco customers about their implementations, and see some cool demos. For me, the best part was talking to two of my favorite people, Vishakha Radia and Bryan Tantzen, about Cisco and business transformation.

Several years ago I wrote about Cisco’s Customer Business Transformation Group (CBTG), which works with customers to help them understand how they can transform their businesses using Cisco technology (at the time it was UC, today it’s about collaboration technologies). By understanding and analyzing customers’ communication and collaboration pain points, the group helps customers identify how they can transform their business, based on their business goals and various user roles. At the recent Collaboration Summit, I got an update about the CBTG and how they’re developing a number of use cases and proof points about how real customers are experiencing real benefits using Cisco collaboration solutions, while transforming their businesses in a variety of ways.

While the focus of the group initially was about using unified communications (UC) to transform business, today it’s about using collaboration, which in Cisco’s definition includes UC, as well as tools such as Cisco Cius and Quad. As Vishakha explains in this podcast, the CBT team works with customers to identify use cases by looking at the customer’s communication and collaboration problem, and then identifies the solutions that can solve these problems, as well as their business value - whether it’s cost reduction, enhanced worker productivity, or changing their customers’ experiences. The CBT group found that the transformational benefits of collaboration can deliver 10-15 times the value, and that customers can achieve significantly more benefit if they focus not just on cost reduction, but on the impact to the business.

These use cases are utilized in several ways, including helping the Cisco sales people position and put together appropriate bundles for customers, and they also become the foundation strategy plan for organizations to implement collaboration solutions. Vishakha and Bryan noted that they have 40 validated use cases for the Cius, based on real-world customer examples, as well as about 20 use cases for Cisco Quad.

The primary use cases for Cius fall into the areas of education, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, high tech, energy, and retail, with subsegments in each category. For example, in the retail category, there are use cases for customer service, merchandising, operations, retail workforce communications, and sales. Cius use cases include horizontal examples such as virtual expert, field service, and field sales (e.g.; using Cius to enable sales people in the field to find and connect with the appropriate virtual experts to accelerate the sales process), as well as specific vertical examples, such as patient care and insurance claims.

The following are a couple examples, based on actual Cisco customers and their experiences. As mentioned, there are over 40 use cases for Cius, so this is just a small sample.

  • Insurance: Mobile collaboration between insurance agents and remote claims adjustors using Cius, as well as UC, screen sharing, and expertise location technologies, can help speed insurance claims resolution. Cisco’s customer found that whenever there is a major natural catastrophe, they experienced a major spike in the claims, which overloaded their phone system and created scalability and logistical problems. By using Cius and other collaboration technologies, the agent who arrives on the site of the damaged property can pull up information online and interact via video with the claims adjustor who can assess the damages remotely. They can call up policy systems to assess coverage provisions and decide what provisions can be made to resolve issues resulting from the damage. By accessing the remote expertise much faster by using Cius and its video capabilities, the agent can improve the customer experience, reduce the time it takes to settle and resolve a claim, and improve customer retention.
  • Higher education: When working on team projects, students found that 10-20% of class time was wasted trying to schedule and coordinate after-class project meetings. To help students working on team projects remotely, Quad and Cius are used to provide a mobile and virtual team space where the students can see each other’s presence status and connect with each other when needed, and can collaborate face-to-face regardless of where they’re located. Multi-point video collaboration on Cius or other mobile devices lets the student share and create documents in real time. Group IM helps them more efficiently reach teammates and coordinate meetings, and their project discussions on Quad are captured and stored so that they can be accessed when needed. The university providing this use case found that the travel time to after-class meetings for the team projects was reduced by 50%, saving $93 per student per meeting and improving meeting participation by 22%.
  • Other education examples include: using video to provide a virtual learning experience during campus closures due to severe weather or pandemics; using Cisco Cius to replace students’ heavy backpacks filled with books and printed materials that cost schools millions of dollars each year; connecting with teachers and classmates using presence and group chat after class to solve problems and get answers to questions and engage in group video chat for group assignments; and using Cisco Cius to record classes as well as images of written notes that can be viewed by students who miss a class.

Whether it’s increasing real-time access to business intelligence, or providing anywhere access to key call center performance metrics, the results of these use cases have commonalities that can be attained in almost any vertical. The common thread of increasing mobile collaboration, accessing expertise when needed, enhancing mobility, enabling remote workers to feel more connected, and improving general productivity, all result in increased revenues and improved customer satisfaction.

I’m pleased to see Cisco’s emphasis on use cases that demonstrate not only the benefits of collaboration (and UC), but also help organizations understand how they can use these technologies to help them meet their goals. Technology for technology’s sake is irrelevant – it’s all about how best to use the technologies to meet business goals. Cisco’s CBT group clearly gets this, and continues to work with its customers to identify the business cases, and to help others get the “aha” moment and see how these technologies can be used in various parts of their organizations.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Avaya comes out with 2 fun new videos

Avaya has a interesting new approach to marketing themselves online. Check out these 2 new funny videos from Avaya

Avaya Honored by Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) for Excellence in Client Support

For Immediate Release:08 Nov 2011

  • Avaya Client Services receives TSIA's STAR Awards for Mission-Critical Software Support and Hardware Remote Diagnostics

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – Avaya, a global provider of business communications and collaboration systems and services, today announced it received two Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) Fall 2011 STAR Awards for Excellence in Mission-Critical Software Support and Excellence in Hardware Remote Diagnostics. The STAR Awards recognize client support excellence in technology services, and award technology companies that display exceptional leadership, innovation and commitment to delivering world-class service and support.

This marks the second consecutive year that Avaya has been honored for excellence in Mission-Critical Software Support. According to TSIA, a winner in the Mission-Critical Software Support category has demonstrated leadership in delivering support in environments where system uptime is imperative, typically for enterprise customers. Avaya's Emergency Recovery Services provide a dedicated team of experts focused on restoring essential functionality for customers who experience solution-wide outages.

In receiving a STAR award for excellence in Hardware Remote Diagnostics, Avaya was recognized for excellence in remotely monitoring and maintaining client hardware. Avaya resolves approximately 99% of service alarms remotely and begins diagnosing problems within 90 seconds of receiving an alarm notification.1 To further enhance remote support, Avaya last year opened its Center of Diagnostic Sciences, focusing on building a pipeline of breakthrough diagnostic technologies and methodologies.

Companies under consideration go through a rigorous evaluation, with the winners selected by TSIA's service discipline advisory board members. Avaya has now received a total of eight STAR awards from TSIA in the past three years, earning it a place in the TSIA STAR Awards Hall of Fame, a recognition that Avaya received last year for lifetime achievement for outstanding service.

Supporting Quotes
"Recognition from TSIA reinforces our strong track record in client support. Providing emergency restoration and around-the-clock monitoring of essential systems for our clients is critical. Our ability to quickly identify and resolve communications disruptions is what sets us apart from our competitors. Continual improvement of service is what the TSIA awards are all about, and as an award recipient, Avaya intends to continue to lead by example."
Mohamad Ali, senior vice president and president, Avaya Client Services.

Additional Facts 2
  • 88% of Avaya's Mission Critical Support customers provide positive feedback after an outage occurs.
  • With Avaya's Mission Critical Support, outages are restored 91% faster, outage frequency is reduced by 89%, and executive escalations decrease by 94% (when compared to 2007).

About Avaya
Avaya is a global provider of business collaboration and communications solutions, providing unified communications, contact centers, data solutions and related services to companies of all sizes around the world. For more information please visit

About TSIA
The Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) is the leading association dedicated to advancing the business of technology services. Technology services organizations large and small look to TSIA for world-class benchmarking and research, exceptional peer networking and learning opportunities, and high-profile certification and awards programs. Find TSIA online at

Monday, November 21, 2011

Avaya IP Office 8 to be released on November 30th, 2011

Very soon Avaya IP Office, “Release 8” will be available to the public. Here are some of the highlights:

-It will now support Linux based operating systems
-New expansion module for Voice Mail Pro server.
-Avaya Flare integration (Video Conferencing + Collaboration)
-The OneX portal will now be web-based and easier to use

Avaya is planning to make many great enhancements for this version. Check back soon for more updates!

Update: now that it is released check out more information on Avaya IP Office Release 8.0

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cisco Networkers 2011 Demonstrates the Technology of the Future

One of the Largest IT Events in Hong Kong Helps Empower Local IT Industry with Latest Networking Knowledge

HONG KONG, November 7, 2011 Cisco® Networkers 2011, held today at the JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, demonstrated the technology of the future that will be essential for IT practitioners to stay ahead of the competition and become powerful players within and outside of their organizations. Numerous industry partners, technology vendors, business and technical organizations, together with more than 500attendees, participated in the event.

Themed "Beyond the Network – Mastering the technology of the future", Cisco Networkers 2011 began with welcoming remarks by Barbara Chiu, general manager, Cisco Hong Kong and Macau, and a keynote speech by Fred Baker, Cisco fellow. Participants were able to experience live demonstrations and benefit from a hands-on opportunity to appreciate and apply the latest technologies and trends. Lively discussions with Cisco experts also provided valuable insights into pertinent topics such as network infrastructure, collaboration and video, data center and virtualization, mobility and security, and service provider technology.

At the event, Cisco also celebrated the 5th Anniversary of Cisco TelePresence with the launch of the new and expanded offerings of Cisco TelePresence in Hong Kong. Fred Baker and Barbara Chiu were joined in officiating at the Celebration Ceremony by Lewis Liu, I.T. manager, Tesco International Sourcing, the company that sources products for the UK's largest retailer, Tesco, and uses Cisco TelePresence® to transform its business.

Tescohas deployed more than 100sets of Cisco TelePresence in its offices worldwide, including sevensets in Hong Kong. With the enhanced collaboration made possible by Cisco TelePresence, the company has been enjoying closer collaboration, higher productivity and faster decision-making, which is ultimately helping the company grow its international business. Tesco is continuing to develop its collaboration plans, rolling out Cisco TelePresence to every geographic area in its portfolio and expanding the role of video within its collaboration framework.

Supporting Quotes

Fred Baker, Cisco fellow

"Cisco Networkers 2011 is a very useful platform for us to meet with IT practitioners in Hong Kong, to have spirited discussions with them and to learn about their needs and the challenges they face. We are in the age of transformation. Over the last decade, we have witnessed tremendous change in the way people work, live, play and learn, which can be largely attributed to greater globalization, more mobility and the rapid rise in Internet and mobile device use. IT practitioners today need to keep abreast of the latest technology in order to stay competitive in the midst of this dynamic environment."

Barbara Chiu, general manager, Cisco Hong Kong and Macau

"I am very pleased to welcome the ever-popular Cisco Networkers event back to Hong Kong. Since the last Networkers here in 2006, Cisco has remained very focused in helping customers maximize the potential of the network to capitalize on business opportunitiesby introducing groundbreaking technologies in core routing, switching and services; collaboration; data center virtualization and cloud; architectures; and video. This event is one of our initiatives to provide knowledge and the breadth of Cisco technologies that empowers the IT practitioners to achieve success in their organizations and industry."

Lewis Liu, I.T. manager, Tesco International Sourcing

"It is my great pleasure to be here to join Cisco Networkers 2011 and be part of the celebration of the 5th Anniversary of Cisco TelePresence. Deeply impressed by the amazing ‘in-person' experience brought by Cisco TelePresence, our Hong Kong office decided to start deploying Cisco TelePresence in 2007 and has expanded its use globally since. This advanced technology transforms and enhances the way we collaborate, operate and make decisions. We will continue to invest in the future of our business by deploying more Cisco's business video solutions including TelePresence in our workplaces around the world to keep pace with the increasing demands of the industry and meet the needs of our staff."

Supporting Resources

NEC Launches ML440 Handset For Small To Mid-Sized Businesses

Little Rock florist says NEC solution enhances customer service & responsiveness

NEC Corporation of America (NEC) has announced the availability of the ML440 Multi-line Wireless Handset for the UNIVERGE SV8100 communications server, designed specifically to meet the needs of small to mid-sized businesses. The first ML440 deployment was part of a recent system upgrade that allowed for increased employee productivity and enhanced customer service.

Southern Wholesale Florist, a family-owned small business in Little Rock, Ark., recently completed beta testing of the ML440. NEC and authorized NEC dealer, Heritage Communications Inc., led the implementation which allows sales associates to answer customer calls anywhere in its 17,500 square foot facility, including within the floral coolers.

“We’ve relied on NEC technology since 1998, so when it came time to upgrade our phone system we knew who to turn to for a wireless handset that would allow us to increase efficiency and survive rigorous daily use by our sales reps,” said Misty Gaston, VP and corporate secretary for Southern Wholesale Florist. “Our 400 customers now feel like they are being heard and it allows our sales force to fill more orders in a shorter period of time.”

According to Gaston, the ML440 has helped employees stay in touch with customers and address customer needs on a more personal basis. Missed sales opportunities are a thing of the past, now that the sales force can take calls while filling other orders on the warehouse floor. Also, the new UNIVERGE SV8100 communication system has decreased the number of customer complaint calls, which has boosted return sales and employee morale.

“Southern Wholesale Florist’s ordering system deals in same-day delivery which makes streamlined communications a must. They now have an edge to help them get fresh orders to their customers faster and more accurately,” said Larry Levenberg, Vice President of Channel Sales and Marketing, Communications Technologies, NEC Corporation of America.. “NEC’s ML440 handset provides employees with an innovative way to assist customers, whether at their desk, on another line, or while hunting the show floor for just the right product to fill a customer’s order.”

The ML440, now generally available to NEC customers, operates on the 1.9 GHz band giving superior sound quality compared to products sold on the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands. The handset also includes:

  • Illuminated, color LCD display with GUI for poorly lit environments
  • Internal loudspeaker provides hands free operation
  • Advanced call-logging features simplify call management
  • Long-lasting battery includes 20 hours of talk time of and 200 hours of standby
  • Compact design allows for easy use in physically active work conditions
  • Soft keys for hold, transfer, conference
  • Multiple handsets can be programmed to ring at once
  • Calls can transfer to the back office after a set amount of time

“In our business if you drop a call or don’t get back to a customer fast enough, they call the next supplier on the list,” said Gaston. “As one of my top salespeople said, he wouldn’t do this job if we went back to the old system.”

More information on NEC can be found here:

New Study Finds Nearly Half of All Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Use Cloud Services

Spiceworks Survey of 1,200+ Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Also Reveals Significant Growth in Tablet Usage, Virtualization Adoption and IT Budgets

AUSTIN, TX–(Marketwire – Nov 9, 2011) – A new study issued today by Spiceworks™, Inc. revealed that small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) continue to embrace advanced technology — including tablet computers, cloud services and virtualization technology — at a rapid pace. According to the results of the recently released Spiceworks State of SMB IT survey, nearly half of SMBs have adopted tablet computers and cloud services, while IT budgets for the second half of 2011 saw the greatest jump in more than two years.

The Spiceworks State of SMB IT survey is a semi-annual global study that investigates the latest technology purchasing, usage and staffing trends among companies with less than 1,000 employees. The study of 1,200+ IT professionals was conducted during the fall of 2011 via the Spiceworks Voice of IT® Market Research Program.

Survey highlights include:

Tablets are becoming more popular among small and mid-sized businesses.

  • Fifty percent of SMBs have deployed or plan to deploy tablet devices, such as iPads, within the next six months.

Adoption of cloud services continues to rise rapidly among SMBs, while virtualization is still their top IT initiative.

  • Cloud services are now used by 46 percent of SMBs, a significant rise over the 28 percent that reported using cloud services in the first half of 2011 and the 14 percent that reported doing so mid-year 2010.
  • Virtualization continues to dominate the SMB market. Currently, 61 percent of small and mid-sized businesses use virtualization, which is up from the 54 percent that reported using virtualization during the first half of 2011.

IT budgets see the largest increase in two years as SMBs continue to add IT staff.

  • Overall IT budgets in the second half of 2011 grew 9 percent when compared with IT budgets for the first half of 2011 — the largest increase in two years. The average annual IT budget for SMBs now stands at $143,000, up from the $132,000 previously reported for the first half of 2011.
  • Nearly one in three SMBs, or 31 percent, plan to hire IT staff — which is consistent with data reported for the first half of 2011.

“Despite market fluctuations, 2011 proved to be a great year for disruptive technologies as SMBs increasingly adopted tablet computers, cloud services and virtualization technology,” said Jay Hallberg, co-founder and vice president of Marketing for Spiceworks. “The results of our most recent survey show SMBs making similar strategic technology investments with expanded budgets — pointing to a stronger market for IT products and services among small and mid-sized businesses in 2012.”

The State of SMB IT survey included 1,295 respondents from 95 countries around the world. Forty percent of respondents were from North America, 32 percent from EMEA, 25 percent from Asia-Pacific, and 4 percent from Latin America. Those surveyed work in organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees and were among the more than 1.7 million SMB IT professionals who use Spiceworks to manage their computer networks.

More at

US Avaya Partner Conference Hits Vegas Part 1

Earlier today, Kevin Kennedy, Joel Hackney, and a host of executives hit the stage in Vegas at Avaya's US Partner Conference to spread the word on plans to keep momentum going throughout 2012.

Joel Hackney, Avaya's head of Sales, Marketing and Field Ops addressed a packed conference room: "How does it feel to be winning!?"

Joel highlighted Avaya's Power of We, Faster, Smarter, Better campaign - explaining that Avaya offers what every CEO, CIO and business leader wants: technology that gets the right people together with the right information, at the right time - all to help them make faster, smarter and (you guessed it) better decisions.

Brett Shockley, Avaya's SVP of Corporate Development & Strategy talked a bit about innovation as a powerful tool in the selling process:

"It is often the difference as to whether you are perceived as a strategic partner or a commodity supplier of telecommunications gear. I look for an opportunity where Innovation can be that spark that begins to address a business challenge."

I've provided a few pics from this morning below, and check out Avaya Connected tomorrow for more.

Kennedy at US Partner Conference.JPG
Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy

Joel at US Partner Conf.JPG
Joel Hackney

Fitz at US Partner Conference.JPG
US Sales Lead Steve Fitz

conferencing demo.JPG
Avaya Conferencing Demo

Posted 8 Nov 2011 at 04:35 PM

US Avaya Partner Conference - Day Two

As promised, here's more from Day Two at Avaya's US Partner Conference today in Vegas:

We issued two press releases this morning - one announcing key initiatives to build and recognize our channel partners' value (see press release here) and another naming our Channel Partners of the year (see press release here). Congratulations to the following:

  • Enterprise Partner of the Year: NACR

  • Greatest Growth in Acquiring New Enterprise Customers: Imagine

  • Highest Overall Revenue from New Enterprise Customers: Integration Partners

  • SME Partner of the Year: Synectic

  • Data Partner of the Year: Carousel Industries

  • Services Partner of the Year: Arrow S3

  • Service Provider of the Year: AT&T

And here are some more quotes/thoughts from the conference:

"No one is more bullish then I am right now, Avaya is in the driver's seat." - Tom Mitchell, Senior Vice President and President, Avaya Go to Market

"We are having very different conversations. We are playing offense and putting points on the board every day." - Jeremy Butt, Vice president, Worldwide Channels

"Start with the customer and work backwards to the technology. You can't start with the technology and try to figure out where you're going to try and sell it... It starts with 'What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?'" - Ok, that's Steve Jobs, but Brett Shockley (our SVP of Corporate Development, Strategy and Innovation) used the point to reinforce his focus on innovation as a differentiator for Avaya.

And my favorite of the day... a photo of Alan Baratz demonstrating "weapons" that represent technologies that our competitors are "arming" our customers with that can be leveraged by Avaya:

Alan Baratz costume.JPG

And, here's a shot from our "Acceleration Lounge" at the event:
Acceleration Lounge.JPG

And finally, for those of you who'd like to read more, we've seen a ton of news coverage from the event - check out the following:

Avaya Channel Chiefs: New Partner Pricing Model A Year Out (CRN)

Avaya Channel Strategy Tilts Toward Full Portfolio Partners (CRN)

Avaya Mounting Massive Partner Recruitment Effort (CRN)

Avaya's Networking Business on Mission to Re-Energize Channel (Channel Partners)

Avaya Shifts Partners to Selling Solutions in Key Segments (The VAR Guy)

Avaya CEO To Partners: SIP Will Carry Us (CRN)

Avaya Partner Conference: Our SIP Bet is Paying Off (The VAR Guy)

Cisco turnaround plan shows results in fiscal Q1 as revenues rise 4.7% to $11.3B

John Chambers' plan to put Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) back on a path of focused growth appears to be working as the networking vendor reported $11.3 billion in net sales for its fiscal first quarter that ended on Oct. 29, a 4.7 percent increase over the same period in 2010.

Cisco FY Q1 2012 results

Click here for details of Cisco's fiscal Q1 2012 results.

Due to the uneasy global economic state, financial analysts forecast the vendor would report $11.03 billion in sales during the quarter.

Chambers attributed the better results to the fact that its large service provider and government customers did not reduce their spending as much as initially thought.

The vendor said it's largely completed its restructuring and it expects only $0.01-$0.02 per share in additional charges in the current fiscal year.

From a segment perspective, the results were more of a mixed bag.

Cisco's core switching business sales remained flat at $3.6 billion, while IP routers declined 3 percent to $2.1 billion. On a brighter note, collaboration revenues rose 12 percent to $1.1 billion and video systems were up 13 percent to $879 million.

Despite the positive Q1 results, Chambers is remaining cautiously optimistic about how the company will fare in 2012.

"There will always be challenges," he said. "We are watching very closely the developments in Europe and the global economy, public sector spending, India business, and the fallout from the flooding in Thailand."

As it looks to revive growth, Chambers said one of the company's goals is to find ways to more effectively challenge competitors like Huawei, which has been stealing away market share.

"In the past we have been a little too gentle," he said.

For fiscal Q2 Cisco has forecast that sales will rise 7 to 8 percent, which would mean about $11.13 to $11.20 billion in revenue, surpassing analyst revenue forecasts of $11.14 billion.

For more:
- see the earnings release
- FierceEnterpriseCommunications has this coverage
- Reuters has this article

Blue Jeans Network Demonstrates Industry’s First Video Conferencing Interoperability between Skype and Microsoft Lync

Blue Jeans Network brings together the most popular consumer and enterprise desktop video conferencing solutions just one month after Skype acquisition by Microsoft

The addition of Microsoft Lync to the Blue Jeans offering creates, for the first time, the opportunity for interconnected videoconferencing for nearly one billion people worldwide

November 10, 2011— Mountain View, CABlue Jeans Network, the leader in interoperable video conferencing services, today announced that at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, it will demonstrate a single video conference that connects users on Skype and Microsoft Lync to each other and with other video conferencing endpoints (such as Cisco/Tandberg, Polycom, Lifesize, Google, etc.). The Enterprise 2.0 Conference will take place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California, on November 14-17th.

Blue Jeans Network’s demonstration at its booth at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference will be the first public display of Microsoft Lync working with Skype in a single video meeting. The demonstration will take place just one month after the acquisition of Skype by Microsoft was completed.

Blue Jeans Network is a cloud-based video conferencing service that makes video meetings as easy, interoperable and affordable as audio. It’s the first video conferencing service to bridge together business solutions from Cisco/Tandberg, Polycom, Lifesize, and now Microsoft, with consumer solutions such as Skype and Google. For the first time anyone with access to Skype and a video-enabled desktop or mobile device can participate in high quality video meetings with those using traditional video conferencing room equipment.

“Not only will we provide increased flexibility for our users with the addition of Microsoft Lync and OCS to the Blue Jeans Network offerings, but for the first time, nearly a billion people worldwide will have the ability to video conference with others thanks to Blue Jeans , ” said Krish Ramakrishnan, CEO of Blue Jeans Network.

By offering interoperability between so many popular business and consumer platforms, Blue Jeans Network is creating a “network effect” for video conferencing. Blue Jeans Network is enabling more people to communicate easily with each other and expanding the reach of video communications beyond corporate boardrooms and across the enterprise to telecommuters, remote workers, travellers, suppliers, partners and customers.

The Blue Jeans Network service launched in June 2011. Since then it has grown rapidly, expanding to over 1,500 cities in 150 countries, providing video collaboration solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Initial rollout of Lync support for Blue Jeans customers is expected next month.

More at

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cisco enhances unified communications systems for midsize businesses

Cisco has announced a refresh of its unified communications systems aimed at the 75-750 seat market, the Cisco Business Edition 3000 and the Cisco Business Edition 6000, which were formerly known as the Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000 and 6000 respectively.

"We are turning attention strongly to mid-size businesses," said Roberto De La Mora, senior director of worldwide IP communication solutions marketing at Cisco. "We have had offerings there for a long time, but we really want to develop that market. Cisco is committed to mid-size businesses with the same kind of laser focus we have had on the enterprise in the past."

De La Mora said the mid-size market is worth about 7.4 billion, and has been dominated by legacy voice products which are now aging and failing.

"They want new solutions with the right set of features for their market, which are simple to operate, manage and maintain at a price they can afford, and they want a path to protect their investment," he said.

The Cisco Business Edition 3000 is targeted at the 75-200 seat market.

"The Business Edition 3000 has a fabulous value price and enterprise grade features," De La Mora said. "It's priced to cost around $100 per user with everything included, even the phone."

Features on the 3000 include SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking, through the Cisco Unified Border Element and integration with the Cisco WebEx conferencing solution. Cisco Jabber is also integrated for IM and presence. Video calls can also be made inexpensively through the Cisco Unified IP Phones 8941 and 8945, which allow callers to see each other on their respective devices.

That video phone support is one way the Business Edition 3000 users can compensate for the 3000's lack of built in support for TelePresence, which is supported on the Business Edition 6000.

"We didn't build it in to the 3000 because we felt most customers who would use TelePresence at that size would use our Callway service," De La Mora said. "We didnt add support in the 3000 box because we didn't want to increase the price."

For rapid set-up, country-specific dial plans for the Business Edition 3000 are now available for the US, Canada, China, India, Russia and Australia. Dial plans for the UK, France, Spain and Italy will be available in Q1CY12.

The Cisco Business Edition 6000 is targeted a little more up-market, at companies with 150 to 750 users, at up to 50 locations.

Cisco has integrated Cisco WebEx Meeting Center and Cisco Jabber for IM and presence into the Cisco Business Edition 6000. This eases the provisioning of these applications as web conferencing becomes the default way to connect people in remote offices, and cloud becomes the preferred method of delivery, since it saves money and reduces management complexity.

The Cisco Business Edition 6000 also embeds the virtualization software required to operate virtualized applications.

"Having the virtualization platform on the box reduces cost and complexity," De La Mora said. "This makes it easier to deploy and maintain."

While the Business Edition 6000 is geared towards companies with 150 to 750 users, Cisco acknowledges companies that anticipate growth, or that want them for branch offices, may want it as well. So the lower bundle limit has been reduced from the earlier version

"We have lowered minimum user requirements to 50 user bundles, whereas before it was 100," De La Mora said. "For branch offices, 100 was overkill. This gives a better price point."

"There is a great opportunity here for our Cisco Collaboration partners," said Marc Inderhees, senior sales business development manager at Cisco Worldwide Channels. "First, we really feel that there's an opportunity for partners to be more relevant with their customer base with solutions that are designed, packaged and priced for the market. Many customers have been holding onto old PBX systems because of the cost and challenges of deploying new systems. Partners are in a better position to ease customers off those technologies, and they can expect to see their revenues grow."

Ted Chong, vice-president of collaboration at Cisco Canada, said these enhanced products really target the midmarket much more effectively.

"We thought we had a big gap in the mid-market, and Canada is really a mid-market market," he said. "We are really happy to see that we have been able to incorporate a lot of these new features into the Business Edition 3000 and 6000. We've worked very hard to make it easy for smaller customers, and we think it will fill a great gap for us, and be one of the big growth areas for my team this year.

"People want the Cisco brand but we havent had the right features and price point," Chong said.

Expected customer pricing for the Cisco Business Edition 3000 starts at $USD 100/user for a 100-user system; for the Cisco Business Edition 6000 pricing starts at $158/user for a 225-user system.

"Having the virtualization platform on the box reduces cost and complexity," De La Mora said. "This makes it easier to deploy and maintain."

While the Business Edition 6000 is geared towards companies with 150 to 750 users, Cisco acknowledges companies that anticipate growth, or that want them for branch offices, may want it as well. So the lower bundle limit has been reduced from the earlier version

"We have lowered minimum user requirements to 50 user bundles, whereas before it was 100," De La Mora said. "For branch offices, 100 was overkill. This gives a better price point."

"There is a great opportunity here for our Cisco Collaboration partners," said Marc Inderhees, senior sales business development manager at Cisco Worldwide Channels. "First, we really feel that there's an opportunity for partners to be more relevant with their customer base with solutions that are designed, packaged and priced for the market. Many customers have been holding onto old PBX systems because of the cost and challenges of deploying new systems. Partners are in a better position to ease customers off those technologies, and they can expect to see their revenues grow."

Ted Chong, vice-president of collaboration at Cisco Canada, said these enhanced products really target the midmarket much more effectively.

"We thought we had a big gap in the mid-market, and Canada is really a mid-market market," he said. "We are really happy to see that we have been able to incorporate a lot of these new features into the Business Edition 3000 and 6000. We've worked very hard to make it easy for smaller customers, and we think it will fill a great gap for us, and be one of the big growth areas for my team this year.

"People want the Cisco brand but we haven't had the right features and price point," Chong said.

Expected customer pricing for the Cisco Business Edition 3000 starts at $USD 100/user for a 100-user system; for the Cisco Business Edition 6000 pricing starts at $158/user for a 225-user system.

By Mark Cox

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Polycom Adds Whiteboard to Video Collaboration Functions

With its UC Board, Polycom is adding whiteboard capabilities to its room-based video collaboration offerings.

Polycom is adding another capability to its room-based video conferencing solution, enabling participants to better leverage the whiteboards that are common in conference rooms.

Polycom’s UC Board, announced Oct. 27, is integrated with the company’s RealPresence Room HDX offerings, enabling users to write on a whiteboard in one room and have participants in other locations see what is being written.

According to Polycom officials, during meetings, some people will get out of their seats and start writing on a whiteboard. In a video conference scenario, there was no easy way for people in other locations to easily see what was being written, short of moving the camera to more closely see the whiteboard or to take a photo of it and project it to the other participants. Having to do this hampers the collaborative feel of a meeting, they said.

With the UC Board, what’s being written in one room on a whiteboard will appear on the screen of other participants.

"The Polycom UC Board is the first integrated video collaboration solution to make sharing whiteboard content as easy as picking up a pen," Sudhakar Ramakrishna, executive vice president and general manager of UC solutions and chief development officer at Polycom, said in a statement. "That's great news for organizations of all kinds looking to bring remote employees and customers in a sales presentation, brainstorm, planning meeting, or training class with clear access to all the visual content being presented and discussed."

The UC Board is the latest innovation from Polycom in the hotly contested video collaboration space, which includes not only Cisco Systems but also such players as Logitech’s LifeSize Communications business, Radvision and Vidyo. It’s a market that research firm Infonetics Research says will see double-digit growth at least through 2015, and one that Cisco is the leader with 52 percent revenue share, followed by Polycom at 25 percent, according to Wainhouse Research.

Polycom has been aggressive in building out its capabilities, including launching an ambitious software strategy and bringing its video collaboration capabilities to Apple’s iPads and Android-based tablets. In addition, Polycom this month bought video collaboration software maker ViVu.

Its rivals also are extending their portfolios, including expanding their technologies onto mobile devices. Cisco on Oct. 26 rolled out a number of new additions to its TelePresence line to grow the reach of the solutions to SMBs, which in the past have shied away from the vendor’s immersive video collaboration products due to price or the belief that it was a closed environment.

According to Polycom officials, the UC Board leverages a wireless stylus and receiver to enable meeting members to write on a whiteboard in one location that remote participants can view on their screens. A compact infrared sensor is attached to a whiteboard and stylus, and it’s plugged into the Polycom video communications system via a USB connection. As users write on the blackboard, the image is streamed to other participants. It works with any standards-based system, including tablets, according to the company.

Polycom officials said they see multiple applications of the technology, from doctors working with patients who are in another location to remote students doing class work.

The UC Board is available immediately, starting at $1,999.


Avaya Refocuses on Collaboration Value

October 31st, 2011 | Author: Larry Walsh

In terms of real news, Avaya had little new to say at its partner conference last week in Mexico. But what it did say about communications and collaboration could have significant impact on the channel and the market.

Avaya is putting much of the past two years in the rearview mirror. It’s fielded a number of new products, mostly around video and unified communications, and it’s placed an emphasis on partner-led sales engagements.

None of those are changing. In fact, Avaya is stepping up efforts to support partners in the delivery and execution of new technologies that enable communication and collaboration. It unveiled a number of new training, marketing and support resources to aid partners in reaching customers and deploying systems.

“Rapidly changing technologies and rising infrastructure costs have made it more important than ever to make smart technology investments. Customers need solutions that increase productivity and simplify complexity — that provide cost savings and maximize return on investment. This is what Avaya and its partners have been delivering and what we are committed to helping our customers realize — faster, smarter, better technologies that enable communication and make collaboration more seamless,” said John DiLullo, president of Avaya Americas International.

The new resources being poured into the channel are a continuation of Avaya’s “The Power of We” program, through which the company is promoting the utility and value of its communications and collaboration tools to business.

The reason no real news is a good thing is that the show of consistency. Solution providers are increasingly worn down by the continuous change caused by technology and the introduction of new channel programs. Avaya choosing to augment rather than change partner initiatives is a solid indication of a strategy that’s working and productive.

The focus on “communications and collaboration” is what deserves the most attention. No more is Avaya content to talk about telephony, PBX switches, routers and other networking gear. It’s not even talking about its software that powers and rides on these devices. The theme is more a recognition that the world is looking for quality of service, not just the service and applications that makes collaboration possible.

Avaya isn’t the only hardware vendors talking about collaboration. Cisco is pushing new, affordable versions of its TelePresence products to the SMB market and working with Citrix to make better quality video conferencing on thin clients. Microsoft is always talking about collaboration and is working with networking vendors, including Avaya, to make integration of its Sync server more seamless.

For years, we’ve heard about the network being the platform and the need for network acceleration. What’s coming to fore with vendors like Avaya is the advent that the user experience isn’t about the underlying technology, but rather the utility and benefit drawn from the actual applications. In this regard, Avaya is conveying an easily understood message of value with its communications and collaboration themes.

* * *

Lawrence M. Walsh is CEO and president of The 2112 Group, a technology business advisory service that specializes in optimizing indirect channels and partner relationships. He’s also the executive director of the Channel Vanguard Council. He is the former publisher of Channel Insider and editor of VARBusiness Magazine. You can reach him at

Hurricane Rina washes out Avaya Partner Conference

Avaya Kicks Off New Fiscal Year With Americas International Sales & Partner Conference

CANCUN, MEXICO–(Marketwire – Oct 27, 2011) -
  • Avaya re-affirms commitment to a customer-centric, partner-enabled business model across the Americas International region
  • Leverages ‘The Power of We™’ as it outlines Americas International business focus for 2012 and recognizes high performing channel partners for FY 2011 success

Avaya, a global provider of business communications and collaboration solutions and services, today announced a continued focus and commitment to its channel partner model and the Americas International region as it welcomed Avaya Connect channel partners from Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America to its Annual Channel Partner Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Celebrating the company’s regional performance, John DiLullo, President, Avaya Americas International, thanked the company’s channel partners for their continued commitment and support of the company’s innovation and forward-looking strategy.

The communications and networking industry is at a crossroads where the rapid growth in the number of devices and applications are meeting changing user preferences and employee work-styles. The bottleneck for businesses is no longer access to information — it is the ability to connect people together with the right information at the right time to make smarter decisions in real time.

Avaya continues to enhance business collaboration and communication by developing technologies that enable teams to work better together. Over the past year, Avaya focused on driving profitable growth and evolving as a company to deliver solutions, training, tools, programs and resources for its channel partners to exceed customer expectations.

Avaya also recognized and honored 14 channel partners in nine categories for excellence in 2011. Winners of the Avaya Americas International Channel Partner Awards for 2011 are:

Americas International Contact Center Partner of the Year

  • Canada – Branttel Networks Inc.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – Trans Industrias Electrónicas, S.A.

Americas International SME Partner of the Year

  • Canada – Bell Canada
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – Claro Dominican Republic

Americas International Unified Communications Partner of the Year

  • Canada – Unity Telecom Corporation
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – First Tech Tecnología Ltda.

Americas International Networking Partner of the Year

  • Canada – Combat Networks
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – IKUSI México S.A. de C.V.

Americas International Services Partner of the Year

  • Canada – TELUS Communications Inc.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – Telmart Tecnologías Em Comunicação Convergente Ltda.

Americas International Service Provider Partner of the Year

  • Canada – TELUS Communications Inc.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – Consorcio Red Uno S.A. de C.V.

Americas International Partner Challenge Net New Award

  • Canada – Branttel Networks Inc.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – Axede S.A.

Americas International Marketing Partner of the Year

  • Canada – Unity Telecom Corporation
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – Consultores en Teleinformática Empresarial S.A. de C.V.

Americas International Distributor of The Year

  • Canada – Westcon Canada Systems Inc.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – Anixter International Inc.