Avaya wants to unite the myriad, disparate unified communications applications with its new cloud-based platform, dubbed Zang.
APIs into Zang allow it to hook into third-party communications apps, such as Cisco Spark, Skype for Business, and Google Hangouts, as well as Salesforce and SAP, and has a set of SDKs that it hopes will drive application developers to build on top of the platform.
The company explained Zang as "an out-of-the-box solution that provides an easy way to use drag and drop tools, pre-built applications and robust APIs to quickly build and deploy applications that enable consumer and enterprise communications applications and services".
Zang has been spun out of Avaya as an independent subsidiary. Avaya is majority owned by private equity companies Silver Lake and TPG Capital.
The Zang technology is largely drawn from Avaya's 2015 acquisition of Esna; Mohammad Nezarati, former chief executive of Esna, becomes general manager of Zang.
Nezarati stressed the simplicity of Zang: "Similar to how WordPress made it easy to design a website, Zang enables anyone to build and deploy a communications app without needing technical expertise.
"For instance, with Zang’s drag-and-drop functionality, an office manager at the dentist can create a personalised mobile app for patients to automate reminders. The possibilities are limited only to the imaginations of end-users," he added.
"It’s fairly innovative, I can’t think of something else like it in market," said Justin Morris, country manager of leading Microsoft unified communications partner Modality Systems.
"It’s an interesting announcement from Avaya. It’ll be useful for customers and vendors that want to piece together a completely unique cloud communications platform. When it comes to communications and collaboration, the user experience needs to be compelling and easy to use to achieve maximum adoption, so it’ll be interesting to see how Zang provides that given the myriad of apps and APIs it connects to," said Morris.
Nathan Chapman, CTO of Generation-e, which partners with Microsoft and Telstra, expected Zang might take years to reach Australia, even if "it is successful in the US market".
"The legal and tax challenges with rolling out a platform like this on a global scale are enormous, let alone the infrastructure investments," said Chapman.