Avaya has all but confirmed that Skype will be its secret weapon in a push into cloud-based unified communications.
A highly-placed executive from the company just about let the cat out of the bag during an interview with CRN at Avaya's first partner conference since its acquistion of Nortel's enterprise solutions business. Avaya's plans would transition Skype from a consumer video-conferencing product into a white-label, cloud-infrastructure provider providing, among other services, low-cost calls for business users. Dr Alan Baratz, senior vice president and president of Avaya's global communications solutions, spoke about a "consumer alliance" with an unnamed company that would bring a consumer-grade instant messaging (IM) client "that has been enterprise hardened and integrated with Avaya" to work on mobile phones and devices and as a soft client on a PC. "The relationship goes into [the partner's] connectivity infrastructure for least-cost routing to further provide benefits for Avaya customers," said Dr Baratz. Avaya would be working with that partner to "deliver within their infrastructure a set of cloud-based solutions", said Dr Baratz. Private equity group Silver Lake Partners, which bought Avaya in 2007 for US$8.2 billion, was also part of a group of investors which later snapped up 65 percent of Skype for US$1.9 billion from Amazon. Competing vendors such as Linksys, Microsoft and Cisco have integrated Skype into their communications applications.When asked whether having mutual owners would make Skype the most likely partner in question, Dr Baratz simply said: "You laid it out reasonably well. No comment." Dr Baratz hinted at possible cloud-based services through the partner's infrastructure, such as web conferencing. Dr Baratz acknowledged that Nortel's web conferencing product, web.alive, fell short of expectations and was being redeveloped. "This would be deployed as part of that relationship with the cloud provider as an in-the-cloud service," said Dr Baratz. Avaya's voice-conferencing application Media Exchange was another solution that would be put into the cloud rather than on premises, said Dr Baratz.Although Skype uses the proprietary Skype protocol, in March the company released Skype for SIP, a PBX service that lets business users make cheap calls over Skype using their deskphones. Avaya has positioned itself as a champion of SIP-based IP telephony.
Sholto travelled to the Avaya's Asia Pacific Partner Conference in Beijing as a guest of Avaya.
Issue: 315 | May 2013
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