Avaya eyes Cisco Cius, Telepresence with new video conferencing products

Avaya Inc. is shipping video conferencing systems and software designed to let users make phone calls, video conferences and send text messages from the same user interface.

Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Avaya Wednesday announced Flare Experience, a user interface that ships with an 11.6-inch high definition screen, dubbed Avaya Desktop Video Device.

“The intention is to take this software and have it deployed across multiple platforms in the near term,” said Amir Hameed, director of national solutions specialists at Avaya Canada in Markham, Ont. By that he was referring to off-the shelf computers, tablet PCs and smart phones.

Avaya Desktop Video Device includes a 720 pixel camera, microphones and wireless connections using both 802.11 Wi-Fi wireless local-area networks and cellular carriers’ third and fourth generation networks.

The Flare Experience is designed to provide instant messaging, audio, video and Web conferencing plus access to instant messaging and social networking. It also lets users get a single view of their contacts.

“It’s pretty good bang for the buck,” said Ronald Gruia, Toronto-based principal analyst for emerging telecoms at Frost & Sullivan. “The thing I really liked was collaboration on the desktop. It’s about the user experience, being able to mix and match your contacts from outlook and social networking and have a single unified directory.”

Avaya is also shipping five video conferencing systems:

*The 1010 end point includes a camera and microphone and is designed for desktop users;
The 1020 end point is designed for a small conference room and includes a pan tilt zoom (PTZ) camera;
The 1030 end point is designed for a larger conference room and has dual displays for viewing participants and content;
The 1040 end point includes an optional conference room phone and a four-port multi conferencing unit.
The 1050 end point can be located on a wall mount and is designed for up to eight simultaneous users with 720p resolution and six users at 1080p.

“The pricing is lower than our competitors,” Hameed said. “We are driving lower bandwidth while still giving you high definition.”

Prices range from US$3,700 for the 1010 to US$20,0000 for the 1050.

Offering video to the desktop was the “raison d’etre” of Wednesday’s announcement, Gruia said.

“Whenever you want to have a video conference, you typically have to talk to your in house video experts and schedule some setup time,” Gruia said. “From an end user perspective, it’s not the ideal way to collaborate. It takes out some of that spontaneity.”

Also announced Wednesday was Avaya Collaboration Server, which is hardware loaded with Avaya’s Aura software, which includes Session Manager and Communications Manager software on Linux.

“Customers today have separate and dedicated video networks within their environments,” Hameed said. “They have telephony, contact centre and a separate dedicated video network. If you deploy Avaya Aura Session Manager at the core we can allow everything to interoperate.”

Collaboration Server uses the H.323 and Session Initiation Protocol standards to let administrators combine up to 50 end points.

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