Avaya is updating its unified communications offering for small- and mid-size businesses. The company announced this week a new version of its IP Office 8.1, with new mobility, management and security features that are designed for Bring Your Own Device environments.
The company cited a 2012 Forrester Research Study, showing that 56 percent of SMB workers who use a tablet are utilizing their own device, and 66 percent use their own smartphone. Much of the attention by software providers for accommodating the growing BYOD trend has previously been focused on large enterprises.
'Shifting Collaboration Landscape'
Avaya Office is designed to help SMBs move from basic telephony to sophisticated unified communications, with the ability to network as many as 32 locations. Companies can use IP, digital, analog or SIP communications, and Office can interoperate with other Avaya systems.
The product has been designed around use cases for the roles of Power User, Mobile Worker, Office Worker, Teleworker, Receptionist, Customer Service Supervisor, and Customer Service Agent.
Using Office, for instance, Power Users can control office communications from IP phones, cell phones or laptops, can receive all their messages -- whether voice, e-mail or fax -- into single inboxes, can set up conference calls when and where needed, and can have calls ring at both mobile and desk phones.
Version 8.1 introduces the Avaya Flare Communicator, a mobility app that previously had only been available to large enterprises. The Communicator can be used on Apple iPad tablets or Windows-based laptops, and it provides access to such collaboration capabilities as business-class calling, presence, company directory search or management of two calls simultaneously from a mobile device.
The Communicator also offers the ability to drag-and-drop contacts into a spotlight position and then launch IMs, voice calls or e-mails by a screen tap.
The updated Office features centralized management that the company said simplifies the task of managing communications for multiple site environments, because sites can be managed from one location and via a single administration tool.
Enhanced security options include protection against toll fraud, denial of service attacks, and other vulnerabilities via a new SMB version of the company's Session Border Controller, which provides an SIP-based firewall. The Controller also offers the ability to encrypt media and connections without using a VPN. Accompanying the new version is Avaya's IP Office Support, its first support service for SMBs.
We asked Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, if the BYOD trend was as much of an issue for SMBs as for larger enterprises.
He replied that "the issue around BYOD has taken root in companies of every size." But SMBs have an additional problem, King noted, in that, except for a few companies, many have little or no IT support, and are thus more reliant on packaged solutions such as Avaya's.