Avaya Loads Up on Unified Communication

by Erin Joyce

Off to a conference? Avaya wants to make lugging your desk phone easier.

NEW YORK -- First VPN remote phone software. Now IP video conferencing. Networking software provider Avaya is pouring it on at the Interop conference in New York this week.

Avaya has rolled out new software called VPNremote that embeds virtual private network (VPN) remote capabilities into Avaya's family of IP telephones.

The idea is to make the worker's phone number as portable as his or her laptop. Avaya said system administrators only need to integrate Avaya's latest VPNremote software within the phone in order to give telecommuters an "always on" business-class IP telephone.

That is, as long as you've purchased Avaya's line of 4600 IP Telephones. Just as a laptop can connect a worker to the Web wherever there's a ready network, the VPN software helps do the same for the mobile worker's phone number.

Avaya said that after an IT administrator loads the new VPNremote software into the Avaya IP Phone, a home office-based worker can simply plug the phone into a power source, connect it to a home broadband router, enter a password, and it's operable.

Workers can then virtually lug their home phones along with the rest of their increasingly mobile office tools. Avaya said the features of the Avaya IP phones with VPNremote are identical to those found in a corporate headquarters or contact center. The company's ideal customers are home-based contact center agents, telecommuting sales people or other telecommuters.

One recent customer of the product line was the U.S. Red Cross, which deployed the VPNremote and IP phones as part of its disaster recovery work after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Region last fall.

David Craig, chief engineer of disaster response technology for the American Red Cross, said the phones were truly "plug and play" and worked Flawlessly, with no need for onsite configuration.

The latest VPNremote software for Avaya's 4600 IP Telephones is based on Avaya's Communication Manager software platform. It features short extension dialing, transfer, conferencing and Web-based access to information and corporate-wide broadcasts via a screen display. It also supports other Avaya models, such as the 4610SW, 4620SW, 4621SW, 4622SW IP Callmaster and the 4625 series.

The phones are part of a dizzying array of networking features on display at the Interop trade show taking place in New York this week.

Avaya also rolled out a new IP Video Telephony system that integrates desktop, multipoint and group video conferencing with hardware communications company Polycom .

Called the Avaya IP Video Telephony Solution, the system uses a single IP network for voice and video integration, and is a foundation for a unified communication environment for network administrators who need to get video collaboration going.

Avaya and Polycom are no strangers to collaboration themselves. The companies launched a video telephony system in 2004 that featured Avaya's IP Softphone software, in order to make an office phone and computer into a video camera and a microphone. That system also features instant messaging and presence features, key parts of Avaya's unified messaging push for customers.

This article was originally published on Wednesday Dec 14th 2005