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Archive for February, 2010

6 Things To Know About VOIP

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

via Resource Nation

1) Internet connection
Its absolutely necessary that you have a stable and high speed Internet connection (such as a cable modem or DSL) in order for VoIP to work properly.

2) Reliability
Since it relies on a broadband connection, power outages affect a VoIP phone service more than they would traditional phone lines (telephone companies have back-up generators in the case of a power outage, where as VoIP uses broadband modems and other equipment that is powered by household or office electricity). Ask your provider about backup power in the event of a power outage.

3) Emergency Calls
With location independence comes a few problems. One of which is an inability to locate users geographically. Therefore, emergency calls cannot be easily routed to a nearby call center with a VoIP system.

4) Security
Its important to discuss with your provider encryption options in order to prevent eavesdropping and provide a secure line for your VoIP networks.

5) Caller ID
Support of Caller ID varies by provider. Some providers allow a caller to “spoof” the caller ID information (make it appear as if they are calling from a different number). Various VoIP equipment allows for easy modification of caller ID information as well.

6) Costs
Typically, VoIP providers offer unlimited minutes for a monthly fee. However, other costs can be incurred such as hardware installation (ranging from a simple telephone adaptor for a home office to more sophisticated hardware for an entire office network). It is important to ask what equipment is needed in order to be up in running with the configuration you have in mind.

Nortel to Sell Division to Genband

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

via Wall Street Journal

Nortel Networks Corp. agreed to sell to Genband Inc. its division that makes network equipment for phone calls over the Internet for about $182 million, after failing to attract additional bidders for the business.

Nortel had scheduled an auction for Thursday. However, no other company bid against Genband’s offer. Bids were due Tuesday. The operation is also the first of Nortel’s businesses that didn’t draw multiple bidders.

Nortel is selling its businesses piecemeal to raise money under bankruptcy-court protection , in order to pay off creditors. The Toronto company filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2009.

Genband, a closely held vendor of voice over Internet Protocol gear based in Plano, Texas, is acquiring Nortel’s carrier voice over Internet Protocol and applications solutions business with One Equity Partners, one of Genband’s shareholders. One Equity manages $8 billion of investments on behalf of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The sale is subject to court approvals in the U.S. and Canada, which Nortel will seek at a joint hearing on March 3, and in Israel. Nortel aims to close the sale in the second quarter.

Genband will inherit Nortel’s big installed customer base. The Toronto company is considered the global leader in VoIP carrier sales measured in terms of revenue, and its customers include France Telecom, Verizon Communications Inc. and BT Group PLC.

The Nortel business also includes legacy voice network equipment. This business comes with substantial maintenance contracts as well as the potential for Genband to sell VoIP gear to these customers as they upgrade their networks, said Diane Myers, an analyst at Infonetics Research, a market research and consulting firm.

However, ahead of the planned auction, Ms. Myers had said that the legacy gear could deter some potential acquirers because of their focus on selling next-generation equipment.

In the third quarter of 2009, Nortel’s carrier VoIP and applications solutions had revenue of $208 million, up 14% from the year-ago period.

Nortel agreed in December to Genband’s stalking-horse bid, a structure common for companies operating under bankruptcy protection. The bid was for $282 million, subject to balance-sheet and other adjustments estimated at about $100 million, for a net price of $182 million.

With the latest agreement, Nortel has raised more than $3 billion. Nortel has also either sold, or agreed to sell, its wireless, optical and enterprise network-equipment businesses. The company is still weighing its options for the sale of its intellectual-property portfolio, including its coveted next-generation wireless network patents.

Avaya Earns 2009 Product of the Year Award from Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

by Deepika Mala for TMC Net

Avaya, a global provider of unified communications, contact centers and related services directly and through its channel partners to leading businesses and organizations around the world, has says it’s one-X Agent has been honored with a 2009 Product of the Year Award from Technology Marketing Corporation’s Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.

Since 1982, the magazine has been the voice of the call/contact center, CRM and teleservices industries and has successfully played the role of a leading publication in helping these industries to create a positive impact on the world economy.

Came to the market in July 2009, Avaya one-X Agent, a powerful desktop application solution, has been designed to help customer service associates, in improving the productivity and cost-efficiencies of the demanding customer service operations of today. Avaya one-X Agent facilitates both agents and supervisors whether working from home, headquarters or any remote location, with a simple-to-use interface, owing to which, all customer service associates can attain a fast access to all of the sophisticated capabilities that are needed to offer the best customer service.

The Avaya one-X Agent can be easily accessed through customer service associate’s personal computer. The solution helps to extend headquarters –quality customer service capabilities without being affected by their physical location. Furthermore, the solution owing to the features of instant messaging and presence and desktop sharing helps agents and supervisors to consult with experts within a contact center or across an enterprise to best assist customers.

“Avaya one-X Agent enables companies to engage their best associates and employees regardless of their location,” said Jorge Blanco, vice president, marketing, Contact Center Solutions, Avaya. “This award reinforces our leadership in providing businesses with innovative contact center technologies that help to differentiate themselves through superior customer service.”

Avaya one-X Agent offers businesses an important tool for engaging customer service associates and subject matter experts based on their skills and not just their location. The Avaya solution, accessible to customer service associates via their personal computer helps them to work quickly and with flexibility from any location. Owing to the solution it becomes easy for Centralized management makes to administer and manage agent profiles. Avaya one-X Agent uses the Avaya Aura Communication Manager platform for access to enterprise collaboration tools.

“I am pleased to honor Avaya for its hard work and success. Avaya one-X Agent has demonstrated excellence in contact center technologies as well as providing ROI for the companies that use them,” said Rich Tehrani, CEO atTMC ( News – Alert). “For 12 years, Customer Interaction Solutions magazine has been honoring innovative companies for their contributions in advancing technologies and application refinements.”

In related news, 911 Enable’s (News – Alert) Emergency Routing Service has successfully completed interoperability testing with Avaya IP Office, ensuring reliable E911 services for small and medium businesses.

10 Tips For Small Business Success

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

via BizMove.com

The majority of the spas that make up the industry in the United States are considered small businesses. Check out these tips and this new resource for guidance about how to keep your spa’s success on track.

BizMove.com announced the launch of a new comprehensive free resource of small business information titled The Small Business Management Knowledge Base.

The new resource features hundreds of guides, worksheets and checklists. According to Meir Liraz, president of BizMove.com, it is one of the most comprehensive free resource of small business management available on the net.

The new site has already been included on numerous recommended online resources lists, including at such quality entities as: NASA, Federal Citizen Information Center, Columbia University, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, California State University, Santa Clara University, Skokie Public Library, Northwestern University, Dartmouth College, Dublin Institute of Technology, and Seattle University.

Liraz offers the following advice to the small business owner struggling to survive in today’s challenging times.

  1. Stay current. Join an industry association related to your product or offering. Subscribe to all the magazines that cover your business; they are tax deductible. Read blogs and constantly be researching topics about your business. It’s easy on the Internet!
  2. Make sure you have a financial plan. Also, a budget and a measurement process to keep track of how you are doing monthly. If you don’t know where you stand financially and have no short-term and long-term financial goals, then you are just letting fate dictate your success, and we know those odds aren’t too good. Control your own destiny!
  3. Cash forecasting. It sounds boring and difficult, but it’s not. Keep it simple. Look at your next three months projected income or revenue, then just lay next to it all the expenditures you need to keep the business running. The difference is your cash flow. You must do this to avoid surprises. Most businesses hit the brick wall because they fail to understand their cash flow.
  4. Get an advisory board or a mentor. Sounds crazy for a small operation? It’s not! The board can be family members that you trust, or friends. Ask them to be your board of directors and review your business plans and results with them. Having someone to bounce ideas off of and get an objective opinion is critical.
  5. Maintain a balance between work, play and family. This is critical for long-term success. We all put in crazy hours on a short-term basis to get a hot project done or the product out the door, but if you do this on a long-term, regular basis it is a dangerous sign that you are losing perspective. You need to be able to step away on a regular basis and get your batteries re-charged. And also have time for family because if they suffer, it is almost a sure bet your business will suffer, too.
  6. Network. It’s easy to get isolated in a home business or your own small business operation. Force yourself to get out and meet with others that can provide a business support structure for you. One of the benefits of a corporation is the workings of teams and the ongoing support structure it provides. You need to create that for yourself. Don’t think you can do it all by yourself; by talking to others in business you will find out great ideas and it will help motivate you.
  7. Discipline/motivation. One of the hardest aspects of a small business or home-based business is creating the discipline or motivation to work each day. It is so easy to get distracted and put off the essential tasks that need to get done. Keep your work place and hours separate from the rest of your responsibilities. Develop a to-do list EVERYDAY. Set goals for the week. Review how you are doing against them. We all struggle with this, and it is one of the key elements of success.
  8. Don’t rest on your laurels. Be prepared to always change. Force change. Look for things to do more efficiently or how to improve your offering or product. Constantly evaluate your competition and benchmark yourself against them.
  9. Do something you love. If you are in a business that you hate, then it is a good bet you won’t be successful. Find where your true talents and skills are and get in a business that exploits them. The saying, “If you do what you love and the money will follow” is so true. Remember success is more attitude than aptitude and never forget that failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
  10. Don’t give up. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs failed several times before doing extremely well. So, if you’re failing, fail. And fail fast. And learn. And try again, with this new wisdom. Do NOT give up. Yet, do not suffer, either.

Mobile Working: Today you can run your business on the move

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

by Stephen Pritchard for Financial Times

Just over two years ago, Digital Business challenged two businessmen to spend a week working entirely away from their office.

Matt Connolly and Darius Pocha, respectively strategy and creative directors at Enable, a Bristol-based digital agency, were given a basic “road warrior’s” kit: a USB 3G dongle, and a Nokia smartphone. In addition, the pair were given access to WebEx conferencing, and were allowed to use their own laptops.

They managed, but their experiences were mixed: short battery life, the need to negotiate with overly complex firewalls and security software, and an enervating feeling that they were never really away from work.

On the other hand, working away from the office allowed both to reclaim relaxation time, to be more productive and, according to Mr Pocha, more inspired.

But the tools available in 2007 were far more limited than those today. As Mr Pocha has found, “The big change for me is the phone. When we did the challenge, it was pre-iPhone, which was a whole different world. For me, having a really portable, mobile device that is always on in terms of internet connectivity is pretty crucial.”

Other businesses seem to agree: smartphone sales have risen rapidly and are now running at about 150m units a year, according to Gartner, despite a fall in the number of mobile phones sold overall.

“The trend for the past 15 years, since notebooks became practical in corporate environments, has been towards greater mobility,” says David Yach, chief technology officer at Research in Motion, the developer of the BlackBerry.

“The trend was to try to make mobile everything the PC could do. Now it is more about moving information to the mobile device.”

This is opening up options for businesses where the requirement for fully mobile working goes beyond access to e-mail, calendars, or contacts lists.

RIM, for example, recently introduced the BlackBerry Presenter, which connects its smartphones to a projector or display for presentations. This gives travelling executives one more reason to leave the laptop behind.

The mobile industry is also working on more radical ways to overcome the limitations of the conventional smartphone.

More powerful devices and access to better cellular networks have already made the mobile worker’s day much easier, and the trend will continue, as operators start to roll out fourth-generation cellular networks. But areas such as the display and the user interface remain a challenge.

Heavy-duty users of mobile devices remain split over the virtues of touch-screen phones, which allow for larger displays for browsing and displaying documents, or keypads. The need to combine a display large enough for meaningful work with a device that still fits in a pocket continues to tax designers.

Leo Kärkkäinen, research fellow responsible for technology exploration and foresight at the Nokia Research Centre in Helsinki, says: “We are now working on how the device interfaces with people. There are three areas of research: near-eye displays, such as eye glasses; projected LEDs; and flexible devices that are ‘wrappable’.”

According to Rob Bamforth, industry analyst at Quocirca, devices do not always need complicated systems to enable businesses to improve their processes and save money.

He points to examples such as the Anoto digital pen, or the Vocollect voice device, that are small, light, portable and have already found applications in areas such as warehousing and medicine.

“These devices have no screen or keyboard, and in the case of Vocollect, are hands-free,” he says. “These are letting businesses bring mobility to more challenging environments.”

Other improvements – such as optimising applications for mobile devices and integrating mobile and fixed communications – are also helping businesses to free their staff from the office. Applications developers, for example, now realise that mobile workers might only need a small number of functions, or to see just a few screens.

Keeping executives informed about the state of the business, or allowing remote staff to seek or give approvals, is likely to be more important than pushing out whole applications, suggests Terry Stepien, president of Sybase’s mobility division, iAnywhere. “You need access to that in a real-time fashion, and you do that by using the ubiquitous nature of data networks.”

For voice, Mr Bamforth sees productivity gains from unified communications, where staff are given remote access to internal short codes and extension-to-extension dialling, as well as a single mailbox for voicemail.

But he adds that the market has been slow to appreciate its benefits, not least because vendors have tended to sell unified communications as a single product, whereas in reality the benefits come when resellers or consultants link together a business’s communications infrastructure.

“In the context of mobility, we don’t want people to have to use our interface, but to integrate [existing] interfaces with our technology,” says Anthony Bartolo, vice-president and general manager for the integrated communications division of Avaya, the telecoms systems vendor.

“We have integrated with the BlackBerry and the iPhone, so you can use them as terminal devices on your PBX [internal telephone system]. And if you use that interface, you are using corporate voice minutes rather than your cellular data plan.”

A further advantage of convergence, especially in communications, is that it allows businesses to move to a single infrastructure that supports mobile and office-based staff.

“The convergence of voice and data technology and unified communications is beginning to allow us to leverage the same tools for both groups,” explains Craig Cuyar, CIO at Cushman & Wakefield, the global commercial real estate group. “That is a significant change.”

It is a change that can take some time for staff to adapt to: Mr Cuyar describes having voicemail delivered as an e-mail attachment as a “culture shock” for some employees.

But the benefits go beyond savings in infrastructure costs, although those can be significant.

“It is about speeding up communications,” Mr Cuyar says. “A [real estate] broker needs access to a client’s voicemail there and then; access to voice and fax and e-mail is paramount.”

Follow The Money: Help Your Business Grow and Make Sales

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Advice from Barbara Schenck  from Entrepreneur.com

In the turmoil of today’s economy–up and down Main Street and across the nation and globe–business owners are scrambling to get a handle on what customers want so they can steer their way back to higher volume and greater profitability. They seek advice from employees, consultants, suppliers and investors. They experiment with price cuts and promotions. They test new solutions on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Sound familiar?

Here’s a different approach: Let your customers point the direction. Customers tell you what they want and what they’re willing to spend money on. In fact, you already have access to their answers if you simply study your sales records. They’ll reveal what people are buying more of and less of from your business. With that information, you can adapt your offerings and promotions so you back your winners, revamp your losers, and meet your market’s interests head-on. Follow these steps:

Get specific when analyzing your sales. List the products or services your business sells. For example, a bookstore might sell new books, used books, audio books, magazines, greeting cards, eyeglasses, writing supplies and coffee shop offerings. A restaurant’s product categories might include breakfasts, lunches, dinners, happy hours, bar business, group events, catering, to-go orders and gift shop sales.

Once you create a list of revenue streams for your business, tally up how much each category generated in sales this year compared to last year, and this quarter compared to last quarter. By tracking which product lines are increasing and decreasing in sales, you can practically read your customers’ minds. Their purchasing activities can help you adapt your business to promote what they’re telling you–through their purchases–they’re willing to buy.

Draw some early conclusions. Your sales history is almost certain to contain surprises about your customers, and those surprises hold the keys to opportunity. For instance, some pet stores are seeing unexpected upticks in sales of items related to backyard chicken flocks. Nurseries are seeing increases in sales of vegetable garden supplies. In some regions, where retail gift shops have been forced to close, longstanding outdoor or sporting goods stores are seeing a surge in sales of gift items. Where you see shifts in buying patterns, adapt your offerings to address evolving customer preferences. You just might open a new niche and ride a market trend to increased sales and profitability.

Test your premises. Don’t focus on what isn’t selling in your business; focus on what is selling to your customers, and then test how you could sell more of whatever it is people are actually buying.

You don’t have to upend your business to see if a change of course might work wonders. For example, no one would advise a pet store manager to bet the farm on a resurgence of backyard chicken flocks, but if sales receipts show growing interest, why not test the market with well-positioned displays, how-to seminars, and communications that promote chicks, coops, books and related items?

Talk to loyal customers. If you’re uncertain whether the sales surge you’ve seen is a one-time fluke or the beginning of a trend, talk to your loyal customers. For example, by listening to their audiences, symphonies and museums across the country have learned that memberships and season ticket sales are up because–especially in the current environment–customers desire the steadiness of institutions and events that they value, trust and can escape into. Many of those same organizations feature the words of their strongest supporters as they invite more patrons into the fold.

Don’t wait for change: Make it happen. Begin today to study what is and isn’t selling. Then find one or a few pockets of growth, verify your findings by talking with customers, and take action to adapt your business to changing market tastes and trends. What’s to lose? The only way your business will experience different results is by doing things differently. Let your customers lead the way.

Nortel Weighs Sale of Patents

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Nortel Networks Corp. is looking at selling all or part of its coveted library of wireless patents as the insolvent telecommunications equipment company moves into the final stage of liquidation.

In a statement Thursday, the Toronto-based company said it is “exploring strategic alternatives to maximize the value” of nearly 4,000 so-called patent families related to next-generation wireless technology, know as long-term evolution (LTE). People familiar with the company’s plans said it is considering a range of options, including an auction of the patents, a joint venture with a new partner or long-term licensing agreements with wireless companies.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” said one person close to the company. A Nortel spokesman declined to comment.

If Nortel opts to sell the patents, it will mark the end of a storied 128-year-old communications company that rose to global prominence in the 1990s with digital innovations in telephone-switching technology and then floundered after the collapse of dot-com mania.

Lawrence Surtees, a telecom analyst at IDC Canada said if the company sells the patents, “there’s nothing left for it to do. There’s no more Nortel.”

It is difficult to put a price tag on Nortel’s patents because the products they support are still in development. But industry experts estimated the patents could fetch as much as $1-billion (U.S.) if a bidding war is triggered.

According to sources, wireless giants such as Nokia Corp. and Telefon AB LM Ericsson have privately expressed interest in acquiring the patents to protect their purchases last year of various Nortel wireless assets. It is believed that the new owners have short-term licensing rights to the patents. A spokesperson for Nokia declined to comment and an Ericsson spokesperson could not be reached.

Another potential bidder is Research In Motion Ltd., whose co-chief executive officer, Mike Lazaridis, complained to a parliamentary committee last year that the BlackBerry maker felt “snookered” when Nortel ignored its offer to acquire its wireless assets and instead sold them to Ericsson.

At the time, Nortel said it had no plans to sell its wireless patent inventory, but the company has come under increasing pressure from lenders, suppliers and stranded pensioners to salvage more money from the broken company.

by Jacquie McNish and Iain Marlow for Globe and Mail

Since Nortel filed for protection from its creditors last year, it has collected more than $3-billion in net proceeds by selling its various divisions to bigger foreign competitors. The company has $4.5-billion of long-term debt and owes billions of dollars more to suppliers and its underfunded pension plans.

If the company moves to sell the patents, experts warned that the company should act quickly because patent protections eventually expire.

“Every month that they delay selling these, the value decreases,” said Jennifer Pigg, vice-president of enabling technologies at Yankee Group. “My question, is ‘Why now?’ Why didn’t they start selling these off when they first started selling off the divisions?”

Avaya hopes for gold in running the Olympic network

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

by Tim Greene for Network World

When the winter Olympic Games open this weekend, the events will be tied together by a converged 10G Ethernet network backbone carved up at Layer 2 to serve five major functions.

The divisions ensure proper quality of service for the five areas: voice; administration; scoring/timing/games; Internet access; and rate card, a network where users can order up phones, Internet bandwidth and other IT services, says Dave Johnson, director of Olympic programs for Avaya, which inherited responsibility for the network when it bought Nortel.

A few statistics about the all-IP network give some sense of its complexity: 50 core Ethernet switches (ERS 8600, formerly Nortel, now Avaya), 1,500 edge switches (ERS 4134s), 25,000 MAC addresses, 50,000 Ethernet ports, between 500 and 1,000 wireless access points, and 800 virtual LANs (VLAN). All this serves 5,500 athletes, 25,000 volunteers, 10,000 media and 1.6 million spectators. There are 6,500 tech support people, and users are able to request services and gear online.

The core of the network connects nine competition venues and 43 other sites that provide a range of support to the games such as press facilities, housing and food.

Challenges the designers accounted for include the transient nature of demand, venue to venue. For instance, after a major event at, say, the hockey rink, hundreds of still and video photographers will try to upload images all at the same time, creating an enormous demand for bandwidth that will disappear as quickly as it came, Johnson says.

Use of Layer 2 VLANs to handle this episodic demand will insure that the bandwidth required is available, Johnson says. “We use the VLANs to maintain different priorities on the network,” he says.

To smooth ordering, the network supports automatic provisioning of services. So if a news agency needs a wireless access point to connect its handhelds to the network, it can enter its request online. Middleware either connects a user-owned device or gear itself ordered and provisioned by the Olympics group, Johnson says. Users are authenticated using Nortel Secure Network Access (NSNA), network access control, authentication and security gear.

This authentication enables what Johnson calls “anywhere, anytime architecture.” Rather than provisioning individual circuits for different uses, this year’s network supplies individual Ethernet ports that can carry virtually all the services users might need, he says. Scores of T-1s needed for the last Olympics to meet demand are replaced by the IP network, which has links to the outside world via Bell Canada. This reduces operating costs because there is no need to engineer the network to provision individual services.

Avaya is running the core network, but other vendors include Bell Canada, Atos Origin (IT services), Ricoh (copiers and printers), Omega (timing), Panasonic (monitors) and Samsung (mobile devices), Johnson says.

He says he can’t detail what security measures are like, but noted that U.S. and Canadian security agencies are involved for all aspects of security — hostile events, social disruptions and natural disasters. Security-specific provisioning is something he can’t talk about. “But they’re not that far departed from what [Avaya does] for Fortune 500 companies,” he says.

Johnson says he’s been working on the project for three and a half years (six months after the last winter games ended), moving from design, to setting up operating units to deploying operations and technical support teams.

“Reliability is the number-one concern,” he says. “We’re hoping for 100% flawless games.”

Once the Olympics are over, the team stays in town to support the Paralympics before breaking down the network, redistributing the gear and heading home.

Does the Avaya-Nortel Roadmap Salve Most Nortel Customers’ Concerns?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

by David Yedwab for UCS

Avaya’s announcement of its combined Avaya-Nortel Enterprise Product Roadmap has broad implications across the UC space. However, for one group — the Nortel Embedded Customer — it has special significance. How stable will my existing platform be? Will I still have the same reseller? What upgrade path is recommended by Avaya? How will Avaya be handling futures such as business process integrations? These are some of the key questions embedded Avaya/Nortel customers have interest in understanding.

Avaya’s vision going forward is to focus on SIP and open standards; deliver CEBP solutions capabilities, and expand effective contextual collaboration. The watchwords of the roadmap are: Protect the existing product base, Extend the solutions into the future, and Grow solutions into the UC future. The roadmap is consistent with this vision.

Overall, the roadmap appears to be very complete and comprehensive. However, we will have to wait to see how effective the execution of the roadmap and handling of each individual situation is before we can say that the Avaya/Nortel integration is fully successful. “The devil is in the details,” can certainly apply. Here’s an expansion of these major concerns and, how Avaya’s Roadmap addresses them.

1. Future of My Products – Embedded Nortel customers are rightfully concerned about the future of their installed and working Nortel products. Will they be killed immediately? How long will they be supported (both hardware and software)? Is there a transition to current or future products?

The announced roadmap answers virtually all Nortel customers’ product concerns in a way that should allow a sigh of relief.  The overall roadmap objective is to protect customer investments and provide an evolutionary path to the future of enterprise communications – with a SIP focused (through Avaya’s Aura) transformation to that future. Specifically, all products remain available for sale throughout 2010 (NMC and MCS 5100 will be going end-of sale during 2011, to be announced later in 2010). Essentially there will be at least 6 years from the end of sale announcement before a product goes out of support. A product identified for “End-of-Sale” will have additional sales available for at least 9 months before “End of Orderability.” Software, for enterprise products, has one year of manufacturer support and then an option of 5 years of extended support. Software for SME products has one year of manufacturer support and then integrated support by reseller partners. Hardware has 3 years of manufacturer support with an additional 3 years of support as a paid for option.  For all intents, all currently installed Nortel products will be supported at least through 2013 for software and hardware. This is a generous plan that should serve to allow most customers to develop and execute on their future plans without fear of “not enough time”. There will certainly be exceptions. And if you are in a unique situation, certainly have your Nortel, now Avaya reseller bring your case forward for special consideration.

2. Future of My Channel Partner – Will I be able to keep working with my existing reseller/channel partner or will I have to move to another one? Do I get a choice if I change my reseller?

Avaya’s commitment to channel partners hasn’t always been good. However, the current plan of transitioning a majority of its customer sales and support to its channel partners is sincere and, with the Nortel acquisition, Avaya claims over 80% of its sales are now through channels, up from about 60% before the acquisition. Avaya has launched its new channel/reseller program, termed Avaya Connect. Connect allows any existing Nortel reseller to become an Avaya resale partner and gives them a generous timeframe, qualification options and incentives for achieving the required training and certifications to become an Avaya channel partner and to sell and support the on-going Avaya product line. Thus, if your reseller wants to continue to support its current Nortel customers long-term, it can. Not all will choose to nor will they all succeed. However, Avaya appears to be strongly committed to keeping the Nortel customer base and transitioning them to the current and future Avaya solutions. And Avaya Connect has the ability to achieve that objective — again the details of execution are yet to be seen. Especially for the SME space, Avaya is thoroughly committed to the channel sales model and has embraced Nortel’s Service Provider channel strength across the portfolio.

3. Migration of My Enterprise and SME Products – My existing system may be pretty old or it might be reasonably current, is there a migration program for me?

All of Nortel’s UC products have plans for eventual migration to an Avaya product solution. In general, the migration strategy is to upgrade the Nortel product to its current incarnation (e.g., migrate Meridian to CS1000) and then, for Enterprises, connect to Avaya Aura via SIP and open standards, and add additional UC applications going forward. For SME, the long-term path is to migrate Norstar/BCM to IP Office or, stay with SCS, which will be continued as the SIP/datacenter-based SME solution.

The overall migration objectives are: move to a common platform for communications, messaging and collaboration; continue Nortel’s ACE, integrated with Aura, as an applications platform going forward, evolve to common Aura Presence and IM, move to common management and analytics and evolve towards common SIP phones, clients and video solutions.

While individual migration plans exist for each product, we will only discuss two here:

a. CS1000 – At least two additional releases of CS1000 (are planned) and upgrades and extensions will be continued beyond these releases. CS1000 will be connected to Aura (in the next release R7) and the SIP phones on CS1000 (Series 1100/1200) will be able to connect directly to Aura.

b. Norstar/BCM - Norstar and BCM sales will continue at least through 2011. During 2010/11, all of the existing Avaya and Nortel SME platforms will converge/integrate into SIP-enabled IP Office as Avaya’s Best-of-Breed SME solution. This will take place via the following releases (6.0 in 2010 – Partner and Aura compliance for branches, 7.0 in 2011 – BCM and Norstar – retaining many features, interfaces and phones as well as management choice). SCS continues as a separate stream.

4. What about Applications? – I have committed to Nortel’s ACE. What happens to those applications and integrations?

From an applications perspective, Nortel’s ACE platform will be continued and renamed as “Avaya Agile Communications Environment.” ACE will extend Aura’s applications framework; extend Avaya’s Contact Center; incorporate Avaya’s Application Enablement Environment and extended APIs. And ACE packaged applications become available to Avaya Aura; and will support multi-vendor integration, including IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and others.

In conclusion, the combined Avaya/Nortel Roadmap and plans certainly indicates that the new Avaya finds significant value in the Nortel products and customers and is committed to keeping and growing the base. Execution over the next period will be the indication of how well the program will succeed.

Zycko’s conference phones get thumbs up

Monday, February 8th, 2010

via MyBroadband

Award-winning Polycom HD Voice conference phones now compatible with Avaya Aura Communication Manager, Avaya IP Office and Avaya Integral Platforms

Zycko, the official South African distributor of Polycom voice communication solutions has announced that Polycom’s standards-based Polycom SoundStation IP 6000 and SoundStation IP 7000  conference phones, featuring Polycom HD Voice, are now compliant with the Avaya Aura Communication Manager, Avaya IP Office and Avaya Integral solutions from Avaya, a global provider of business communications applications, systems and services.

The SoundStation IP 7000 and IP 6000 – two next-generation IP conference phones – offer groundbreaking Polycom features including Polycom HD Voice technology and a sleek new design. The SoundStation IP 7000 is an ideal upgrade for executive offices, conference rooms and board rooms, while the SoundStation IP 6000 is suited for managerial offices and small to mid-sized conference rooms. Additionally, Avaya is offering the Avaya 1692 IP Speakerphone, which is manufactured by Polycom. The Avaya 1692 IP Speakerphone provides the convenience and productivity benefits inherent in a powerful, hands-free conference phone. It delivers the extensive set of Avaya Aura features directly to small, midsize and large conference rooms.

Says Fiona Mclean-Banks, Polycom Business Development Manager at Zycko:

“This compliance with Avaya is providing our resellers and their end-user customers with peace of mind, ensuring that their investment is protected.

Avaya is a brand and platform used extensively by businesses of all sizes in South Africa and we look forward to seeing businesses benefit from Polycom’s high quality phones with Avaya’s solutions.”

Polycom is a Platinum member of the Avaya DevConnect program – an initiative to develop, market and sell innovative third-party products that interoperate with Avaya technology and extend the value of an organisation’s investment in its network. As a Platinum member of the program, Polycom is eligible to submit products for compatibility testing by the Avaya Solution Interoperability and Test Lab. There a team of Avaya engineers develops a comprehensive test plan for each application to verify whether it is Avaya compliant. Doing so ensures businesses can confidently add best-in-class capabilities to their network without having to replace their existing infrastructure – speeding deployment of new applications and reducing both network complexity and implementation costs.

“By offering compliance testing to the many innovative companies like Polycom who are members of our DevConnectprogram, Avaya promotes fully interoperable solutions that help businesses unleash powerful new possibilities,” said Eric Rossman, vice president, developer relations and technical alliances, Avaya. “They are able to use unified communications capabilities to connect employees and customers to information from wherever they are, over whatever device they have available – getting more out of their multivendor network and delivering new value to their bottom line.”