Avaya is making it easier to drop its unified communications capabilities into business applications, removing a layer of complexity that may be holding developers back from writing communications-enabled apps for businesses.
The company is announcing Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment, which is made up of both a set of developer tools and also software that interfaces communications-enabled apps with Avaya Aura unified communications infrastructure that actually delivers the communication link.
The result, Avaya says, would be applications that can trigger a range of communications actions such as instant messaging, conference calls and video calls. For example, an intelligent-building control application could be enabled to set up a conference call among key building staff when the air conditioning system goes on the fritz.
The applications would require that customers of the apps have Avaya Aura to which they would add Collaboration Environment, which can run on any number of VMware virtual servers.
Competitors Cisco and Microsoft offer APIs to enable embedding communications features from their platforms into apps, but not the development platform, says Irwin Lazar, an analyst with Nemertes Research.
In Avaya's case, the company offers developers a plug-in for the Eclipse integrated development environment that is commonly used in writing business apps. Adding Aura UC capabilities to apps in Eclipse is done via drag and drop, Avaya says.
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"Open interfaces and SDKs make it easier to create applications that leverage those capabilities," says Henry Dowling, an analyst with Forrester Research. For developers, their task is to call on the communications resource rather than having to code the actual interaction, he says.
Lazar says there are enough Avaya Aura corporate customers to attract developers to write these apps. In general, these so-called communications-enabled business processes that the applications could perform have been talked about for a decade, but little has been done to make them a reality. Simplifying the writing of such apps could accelerate the process, he says.
Avaya also offers developers a new service called Avaya Aura Collaboratory, a cloud-based Aura test infrastructure. Rather than build their own test environment for doing quality control on their apps, developers can pay $1,000 per quarter for the Avaya developer test-lab service.
Avaya Messaging Service
Avaya says it used Collaboration Environment to build its own SMS service called Avaya Messaging service.It makes it possible for customers to receive on designated smartphones SMS messages that are sent to their work desktop phones, numbers that otherwise couldn't receive such messages.
Customers sign up for the service and use a secure portal to enter the desktop phone numbers they want to SMS-enable as well as the number of the smartphone to which the messages will actually be delivered. SMSs bound for those desktop phone numbers are routed to Avaya's infrastructure and relayed over a cellular data network to the appropriate smartphone.
The messages are displayed by the smartphone via an Avaya Messaging Service app that customers install. The service costs $120 per phone number per year.
IP Office upgrade
Avaya is has released a new version of its IP Office unified communication platform for midsize businesses. IP Office 9.0 doubles the number of users it supports to 2,000 and supports deploying the system to as many as 32 sites.
For the first time the platform can be deployed on VMware virtual machines. VMware is the only virtual environment IP Office 9.0 supports. The software can also be deployed on Linux hardware or on Avaya 500V2 appliances.
Hybrid deployments using more than one of these options is also possible.
Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.
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