AVAYA IP Office

RELEASE

avaya-ip-office-r10

Enhancements are important for premises deployments, but scream "cloud" as well.

No product at Avaya has received as many upgrades and enhancements as has IP Office. The UC platform has grown from its SMB roots into a midmarket solution that supports up to 3,000 users with broad UC capabilities. Avaya reports it has shipped over half a million IP Office systems globally, and that more than 3,000 channel partners sell the platform.

Today Avaya announced the availability of IP Office Release 10 (R10), which largely focuses on the cloud. Avaya has taken a different path to the cloud than most of its competitors. Rather than build out a direct, public cloud service, it has cloud-enabled its IP Office platform as a service that its partners can deliver (see related post, "Know Your Avaya IP Office Hybrid Options").

Eye on IT, Service Providers
"A lot of the enhancements made in R10 are very important for premises-based deployments, but these improvements are absolutely critical for cloud," said Bob Romano, director of SMB/midmarket product marketing at Avaya. R10 doesn't have a lot of new end-user features, but instead offers improvements that IT operations and service providers will appreciate, he explained.

Cloud-delivered services have many additional requirements over premises-based solutions. R10 will streamline deployments, simplify management, increase resiliency and security, improve performance and capacities, and enable experience improvements.

Avaya has made a number of changes in R10 that reduce installation time. For example, IP Office R10 enables automatic detection of other IP Office systems and related components. Avaya also enhanced its LDAP integration and simplified the UC client install process.

Post installation, a number of the R10 improvements go toward enhanced management. A new extended Web manager provides fuller access to configuration details. Several improvements facilitate administration. Offline mode enables administrative programming when the system is inactive, and administrators can now push dynamic changes while the system is online. Licenses across multiple sites can now be centrally managed. Several diagnostic improvements for troubleshooting and managed services include a real-time voice quality monitor.

IP Office had already supported failover between like deployments, and R10 introduces hybrid failover from cloud to premises, and vice versa. Avaya said it believes the hybrid option will be popular with its premises-based customers looking to migrate to cloud services.

R10 also includes always-on encryption, which has become necessary with increased use of over-the-top networking services.

With R10, IP Office capacity remains unchanged at 3,000 users per system. However, the release raises several internal limits, including increases for hunt groups, soft-consoles, mailboxes, and overall storage capacity. Simultaneously, R10 reduces system memory requirements.

R10 offers a few user experience upgrades as well. A big one is that IP Office now supports single sign-on with credentials from Google, Microsoft Office 365, and Salesforce. There are also some improvements to the UC client, including improved email integration and ad-hoc conferencing from the mobile client. There's improved integration, and now users of the Microsoft Skype for Business client can access voice and IM services from IP Office. R10 also supports the new Avaya H175 video collaboration endpoint.

Cloud Buildup
The vast majority of the R10 improvements appear to be cloud-oriented. Avaya has two cloud strategies: Powered By Avaya and OnAvaya (see related No Jitter post, "Avaya Straightens Out Midmarket Cloud Strategy"). The Powered By path is designed to enable partners to develop their own hosting services. This program allows partners to leverage existing IP Office skills with several hosting benefits, including OpEx licensing from Avaya.

The OnAvaya program is a turnkey IP Office solution that partners can activate within the Google Cloud. In this case partners build out their cloud services by delegating the operational and data center skills to Avaya and Google. The partner does the sales and support, but Avaya staff manages the service for the partner.

It's taken some time, but Avaya's cloud strategy is beginning to pay off. Avaya claimed that it doubled its cloud-ready partners in the past quarter, and saw a 26% rise in cloud-enabled customers over the past quarter. Many of the enhancements such as dynamic configuration, improved LDAP, hybrid failover, and encryption all scream "cloud.

R10 is short on a few enhancements that Avaya previewed last year. For example, Avaya claimed that it would combine Scopia video and Aura Conferencing into a single client in 2016. IP Office R10 still uses the separate clients... but then the year isn't over yet.


FEATURES

It’s probably fair to say that Avaya IP Office (in all it’s historical guises) is a bit of a legend in our industry, and as the 10th major release approaches it’s now way past 500,000 units sold worldwide. As such, a new major release is big news not just for the industry, but also for it’s many thousands of business users in the UK.

As an Avaya Partner we were invited to an in-depth briefing recently in Manchester where we were given the lowdown on a whole host of upgrades, improvements and feature enhancements that will be coming out in Release 10 (R10), but it’s fair to say a lot of them were a bit ‘techhie’ and behind-the-scenes, so I wanted to focus in on why this latest release is important to end-users, and why you should make the effort to upgrade from your earlier version of IP Office on to R10.

Here is a video I did straight away after the briefing on my initial thoughts, and underneath I’ve focused in even further and picked out the Top 5 features of Avaya IP Office R10 that will be of interest to end-users.

Top 5 new end-user features in Avaya IP Office R10.

1. Workforce Optimization Select

This is number one because it has the power to revolutionise the right type of business. Any company with a heavy-traffic customer contact centre who is committed to giving the very best customer experience should take a look at Avaya’s Workforce Optimisation Select. This was developed first for Avaya’s larger Aura platform, and is now available to SMEs via IP Office.

It’s way too deep a solution (it’s really platform a a suite of features) to cover here, but the things that jumped out at me were:

  • PCI Compliant Voice AND Screen recording
    Centrally record and playback an agent call and see what they were doing on screen at the same time. A powerful way to quality check agent performance and compliance.
  • Speech analytics
    Allows you to search for certain words within recorded speech audio. An incredibly powerful tool saving time searching for specific calls, and allowing you to ensure your agents are using the right kind of language with your customers.
  • Forecasting analytics
    By monitoring and learning your call patterns, staffing patterns, peaks and troughs, this powerful software can help you plan your business more efficiently, ensuring agents are deployed where they will be needed, as well as where they are needed.

Workforce Optimization Select really is a powerful suite of programs for the modern contact centre, so if you’re interested I urge you to find our more.

2. Fewer Restarts

Currently there are lots of areas within IP Office where changes to the programming requires a system restart to apply. This is annoying for end-users who risk full system downtime, and it’s annoying for us service providers because we can’t just make necessary changes whenever we need to!

Not only have Avaya reduced the number of instances whereby a system reset is required, they have also committed to moving towards a zero restart system, so there should be fewer and fewer restart instances with each new software upgrade.

3. Webmeeting via WebRTC

WebRTC is still a relatively new technology but has the ability to revolutionise the telecommunications world over time.

It essentially is a method which allows web browsers to connect to each other directly for voice and video calls, with no fiddly and potentially dangerous little bits of software to install. Basically, it makes initiating a web conference much smoother and more reliable, and will also over time be platform agnostic (eg/ it already works on almost any device you can have a Chrome browser on).

In R10 WebRTC can be used to conect to collaboration calls via Avaya Communicator, but for internal calls only at this stage. Eventually, though, it is expected to be rolled ot to external users too.

4. More diagnostic tools

This may seem like something more for the engineer than the end users, but anything that helps your support service provider diagnose issues more quickly also gets your system running more smoothly more quickly.

The key new tools added to R10 are:

  • More line diagnostics
    Added diagnostic tools to test voltage and return loss can help your support engineer dive deeper into line issues and get a more detailed idea of exactly where the issue lies.
  • Voice Quality Monitoring
    Based on software supplied by VOIP monitoring specialists Prognosis, these additional tools should help support engineers investigate call quality issues more thoroughly, and without necessarily having to recreate what may have been an intermittent fault. Call quality is a common pain point for end-users so any extra tools to fix these issues are welcome.

5. New top-of-the-range handset

Well, we say handset, Avaya say “Video Collaboration Station”, and for once I think that’s not just marketing bull!

Here’s what makes this more than just a handset with a screen:

  • The HD 1080p camera is detachable, allowing for greater ‘show and tell’ in web meetings
  • HDMI output allows for meetings to be ‘cast’ to a large TV screen when several people are present.
  • Several connection options – built- in WiFI, dual Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI input allows almost any device to be connected.
  • Cordless handset and USB and bluetooth peripheral support means you can be truly free to roam if need be!
 

BROCHURES