As unified communications become more vital to business, enterprises must find faster, easier, and more integrated ways to connect their employees, customers, and support teams. Avaya believes its just-announced Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment can help businesses do just that.
At the International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) Converge 2013 conference last week, Avaya president and CEO Kevin Kennedy introduced Avaya Aura CE. An integrated application development platform, the Collaboration Environment aims to ease the building and deployment of UC and contact center (CC) applications across all devices and systems within an Avaya Aura ecosystem. I spoke with Karen Hardy, Avaya's senior director of product management, about the new platform.
What Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment Does
Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment addresses the intersection of some of the most critical needs of the modern enterprise: mobility, the cloud, and customer engagement. To meet those needs, developers have often had to piece solutions together from various sources. "If we look inside unified communications, there are all kinds of SDKs, video SDKs, conferencing APIs, and so forth, all of which are very fragmented and siloed today," Hardy told me. "Building applications and services with them often requires very specialized skills and also often results in an ineffecient 'write once, use once' methodology."
In contrast, Avaya Aura CE claims to offer the ability to develop applications and services more quickly, without specialized communications development skills. Apps developed on the platform can "snap in to an Avaya Aura environment," Hardy added, allowing for further ease of deployment, and be used many times, freeing developers to focus their time on solving more unique problems.
What's Being Done with Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment
Avaya DevConnect partners participating in the developer preview of the platform are already coming up with some creative solutions. Eutech Cybernetic, for example, is "communications-enabling smart workplace environments," Hardy told me. This could result in "anything from a smart building to a smart city," reducing communication costs and inefficiencies by fully leveraging CC and UC resources.
Another Avaya DevConnect partner is creating an application that will "help improve student retention" by integrating student records and school communications to identify at-risk students, inform relevant faculty, and initiate communications when problems arise, according to an Avaya press release. Overall, the press release states, Avaya Aura CE can enable organizations to come up with solutions to "sense events, automatically initiate collaboration, and coordinate people and information" when the need arises.
Response to Avaya Aura CE from those who have tried it has so far been positive. Canada-based Esna Technologies Inc.'s executive vice-president has had plenty of praise for the platform, as have others.
Integration with Avaya Aura Collaboration Pods
So where does Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment fit in to the networking toolbox?
According to Hardy, Avaya Aura CE will share the same system manager interface as the Avaya Aura Collaboration Pods. The pods, which unify networking, Avaya Aura, servers, and storage in single branded enclosures, give managers the ability to control and analyze their networks from a single interface. Avaya Aura CE, Hardy said, "is an opportunity to be able to support the Collaboration Pods."
For enterprises in need of speedy development of custom communications applications, Avaya Aura CE could provide the backbone for a wide array of solutions. Avaya plans to release the Collaboration Environment later this year and will provide support and resources through its DevConnect program. Avaya Aura CE will be supported on Avaya Aura 6.2.
Jude Chao is Executive Editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Follow her on Twitter @judechao.