In a sign of the importance of the small and medium business market, Avaya Inc. has increased the scalability and flexibility of its IP Office unified communications suite.
The changes were announced Tuesday for the new version 8.1 of the suite.
But the company’s solution providers and system integrators may find the new support model of greater importance.
In a bid to make support options easier to understand, and easier for partners to quote, Avaya is now offering annual maintenance contracts that include company delivered support and free updates. Until now, partners delivered service based on buying blocks of hours of support, while organizations had to pay for updates.
“It’s meant to be simpler,” Petrina Wong, Avaya Canada’s director of SME channel, said in an interview. Under the new model organizations can buy 1, 3 or 5-year maintenance packages for between $350 and $400 a year depending on options. One option is a next-business-day replacement for defective parts.Customers have a choice of getting level 1-4 support from Avaya, or level 1-2 support from partners and level 2-4 support from the manufacturer.
“It really enables a lot of our small to medium partners that may not have their own support system (for customers),” she said, while enhancing the ability of them to get support from Avaya.
In terms of added features, version 8.1 now scales up to 1,000 seats in a single location, up from 384.It also centralizes management of multiple IP Office implementations across several locations into one administrative tool to make things easier for managers. Combined with the addition of embedded SSL-VPN capabilities, the new centralized management makes it easier to push out updates to remote IP Office users.
Another change is making connectivity for its Flare Communicator mobility application for Apple iPads and Windows laptops available to IP Office users. Until now the app could only be used by large enterprises through Avaya’s Aura UC suite.Although a point release, Wong, called version 8.1 a major update.
“Going up to 1,000 users really puts the into the mid-market range where previously we were aimed at the 300 to 350 mark. Now we have an end-to-end solution” including networking and security, she said.IP Office competes with Microsoft’s Lync UC suite as well as Mitel Networks’ Unified Communicator Advanced, ShoreTel Inc.s Unified Communications platform and Cisco System Inc.’s Unified Communications Manager.