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Avaya launches new version of IP Office compatible with Nortel phones

Avaya's IP Office 7.0 will allow users to keep their existing Nortel phones while benefiting from the platform

NEW YORK CITY — Avaya Inc. has officially launched IP Office 7.0, the latest version of its unified communications product for small and medium-sized enterprises. More than a year after its acquisition of Nortel Enterprise Solutions, the upgrade lets users take advantage of the offering without replacing their Nortel phones.

The new version allows users to take data from the old phones onto the IP Office platform, including voicemail and phone extensions, using Avaya’s Data Migration Tool. End-users can now replace their Nortel Business Communications Manager (BCM) and Norstar phones with IP Office, but use the existing Nortel hardware. Avaya said this can mean savings of 40 to 60 per cent for businesses

“You now have the ability to upgrade very easily and very cost effectively,” said Alan Baratz, president of Avaya’s global communications solutions. By not installing new phones, staff doesn’t need to be trained on a new system. The goal is to allow customers to protect their investment by using existing Nortel hardware instead of buying new phones when using IP Office.   

IP Office 7.0 also includes new collaboration devices, such as colour touch screen desktop phones, new conference room phones and call recording via SD card.

Avaya’s channel partners have been able to offer the upgraded IP Office since March. “One hundred per cent of our service provider partners have now signed up for IP Office,” Baratz said. Avaya has 9000 partners worldwide and about 1,300 in North America.

“Small business has been a critical thread,” said Tom Mitchell, president of Avaya Go to Market. “Our partners are very connected to the market. We actually designed for that market.” Ease of install, ease of use and the ability to migrate data were all paramount in designing the new version, he added.

“Solutions are driving sales now, especially for small and medium enterprises,” Mitchell said. “The people that are winning in the marketplace are selling solutions. The ones that are selling hardware only are going out of business.”

 “As a design point, I always want our margins to be above our competitors’,” Mitchell added, saying margins on Avaya solutions are typically higher than other companies’ margins by 30 to 40 per cent. Cost for implementing the new version of IP Office remains the same.

“As a service provider, it’s our opportunity to show value,” said Cary Parsons, vice-president of infrastructure services for Bell Canada, an Avaya partner. “For us, it’s about being able to add professional services. This gives us an opportunity to show that we’re pretty versatile.”

Bell had a strong history with Nortel, and has continued that momentum with Avaya, Parsons said. Bell will be adding IP Office 7.0 to its portfolio in the next few months. “Cost sensitivity has always been there, but I think coming out of a recession, it’s even more amplified,” he said, so allowing customers to retain existing hardware is important.

Partners have had to go through sales and product certification and the migration tool is very easy to implement, said Renzo Dipasquale, Avaya’s director of channels in Canada. “You actually become an integrated partner in your customers’ eyes,” he said. Avaya is already seeing success with several customers, he added.

Future additions to IP Office will be coming between now and mid-2010, according to the company, which would include the Avaya Flare Experience re-worked for the SMB market and a hybrid solution with some collaboration applications based in the cloud.  

Follow Harmeet Singh on Twitter: @hsingh88