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Archive for April, 2010

Avaya CEO: Networks Need to be More Resilient

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

via VOIP Planet

Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy is not an Olympic athlete, but he does have an Olympic network. Avaya was the primary network provider for the recent 2010 Vancouver Olympics and it was an experience that Kennedy said proves the power of Avaya’s network.

During a keynote here at the Interop conference Kennedy said Avaya is now building networks that are fit for a purpose, even when that purpose is as unique as powering the Olympics.

Kennedy said that the Avaya network delivered the Olympics with 100 percent availability over the course of the 17-day event.

A core part of Avaya’s networking gear for the Olympics came by way of Avaya’s acquisition of Nortel Networks’ enterprise division for $900 million. Avaya initially outlined its plans for Nortel integration in January.

Even though Avaya had great success with its Olympic network, Kennedy said that Avaya still needs to do more. He noted that a new networking architecture is needed that meets the changing demands of network traffic.

Based on Avaya’s experiences delivering the 2010 Winter Olympics, Kennedy said his company learned a number of things which they’ve distilled down to four key items to deliver a fit for purpose network.

Specifically: Networks needs to be more resilient, they need to perform better for scale, they need to have lower total cost of ownership and they need to use less energy.

At Interop, Avaya is rolling out a number of new enterprise networking products it said are designed to meet the needs of next generation networks. Among the new products is the Ethernet Routing Switch 8800 (ERS) which is a campus core and data center switch with up to 200 10GbE ports. The ERS is an expansion of a portfolio that Nortel has had in the market for several years.

Avaya is also expanding its SIP capabilities with the new Advanced gateway 230 which provides SIP gateway and WAN routing capabilities.

“We made a commitment to the industry that after acquiring Nortel we would continue their products,” Kennedy said. “Now we’ve got a roadmap and new products.”

Avaya to Showcase Data Solutions at Interop Las Vegas 2010

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

via TMCnet

Avaya, a global player in enterprise communications systems, software and services, will showcase data solutions at Interop Las Vegas 2010, one of the industry’s data networking trade events.

The company also plans to unveil new products for its burgeoning market during the event.

Officials with Avaya said the company’s President and CEO Kevin Kennedy will be featured in this year’s opening keynote session to discuss industry trends toward “Fit for Purpose Communications.”

Kennedy will examine how real-time video, presence, messaging, multimodal collaboration and conferencing are making unprecedented demands on enterprise networks, and how “Fit for Purpose” networking and SIP-based communications technologies are setting the stage not only to reduce Total Cost of Ownership, but boost productivity and redefine the user experience — all while laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s growth opportunities.

Company officials said Avaya will be launching key new data products at Interop, and will have senior executives on hand to discuss product portfolios, go-to-market strategies and growth plans, as well as provide updates on company integration activities.

According to company officials, the Avaya booth will showcase the latest in Unified Communications VoIP and data networking technologies that reduce costs, improve productivity and position companies for growth.

Exhibits will be offered across Avaya Aura, Data, UC, and Global Services portfolios. Data networking demonstrations will include Network management solutions, WLAN, IP Telephony, SIP Gateways, energy savings (including Avaya’s Energy Savings Calculator) and guest management, access and policy management technologies.

Back in March, Inova Solutions, a provider of call center reporting technology, had announced that its Inova LightLink middleware is compliant with Avaya IQ 5.0.1 using the Inova historical interface to capture ACD contact center data from Avaya Aura Communication Manager.

The LightLink middleware helps contact centers monitor and report key metrics from various sources, including automatic call distributors, workforce management systems and internal databases, in order to streamline operations and improve productivity.

LightLink supports visual reporting on LED reader boards, LCD monitors, web-based dashboards and agent computer desktops.

Previously, Inova LightLink achieved Avaya compliance with Avaya IQ using the Inova real-time interface, and now it is also compliance-tested by Avaya for compatibility with Avaya IQ 5.0.1 using the historical interface.

Tax Tips for Small Businesses

Monday, April 12th, 2010

by Jan Zobel for

Are you paying more income taxes than you need to? To reduce your tax liability, you either need to make less money or deduct more expenses. It’s easy to miss taking some deductions because you don’t know about them, you forget about them, or your business records don’t adequately reflect the expenses you’ve incurred.

Expenses can be deducted if they are ordinary and necessary. Ordinary means that someone else who has a business like yours would likely have a similar expense. Necessary means that you needed to spend this money in order to operate your business. In general, business expenses are deductible if they are costs you wouldn’t have had if you didn’t have your business. In other words, if you would have had this expense, even if you didn’t have your business, it’s probably not deductible.

A list of common deductible business expenses follows. You may have expenses, unique to your business, that aren’t on this list. If they are ordinary and necessary for your business, they are deductible.

  • Advertising and promotion, including charitable contributions that result in publicity for the business.
  • Accounting and bookkeeping fees (including the portion of your tax return preparation fee that includes your business return)
  • Bank service charges
  • Car and truck expenses. You can either use the mileage rate method (32.5¢/mile through March 15 and 31.5¢/mile for the remainder of 1999) or the business percentage of the actual auto expenses you had (gas, insurance, repairs, lease payments, car depreciation, etc.) Don’t forget the miles you drive on errands such as picking up office supplies and going to the post office.
  • Contract labor, including subcontractors and consultants. It’s best to list these expenses on your return in the category of expenses covered (i.e. ‘graphic artist’, ‘computer consultant’, etc.) rather than listing them as ‘independent contractors’.
  • Credit card annual fees for cards used in your business. If your card is used partly for business and partly for personal expenses, pro-rate the fee accordingly.
  • Computer supplies.
  • Depreciation on business furniture and equipment and vehicles. Under Section 179 of the IRS code, up to $19,000 worth of items purchased in 1999 can be depreciated in full on your 1999 return.
  • Dues and fees
  • Education, including seminars and conferences that increase your knowledge and skills. You can’t deduct the cost of education that prepares you for a new line of work.
  • Employee pensions and benefit programs
  • Entertainment and business meals (these are 50% deductible)
  • Equipment, including computers (see information about depreciation.)
  • Furniture for your office or home office
  • Gifts to business associates or clients (up to $25 per person per year is deductible)
  • Home office expenses, if you qualify. The rules for deducting a home office have relaxed as of 1999. You qualify to take the deduction if you have a space in your home that’s used regularly and exclusively to do the administrative work for your business. If you claim the deduction, the business percentage of all related expenses (i.e. insurance, real estate tax, mortgage interest, rent, maintenance, etc.) can be taken Even if you don’t claim the home office deduction, you still can deduct phone expenses and the purchase cost of such items as a file cabinet or desk.
  • Insurance. This includes liability, malpractice, business overhead, workers compensation, and other business-related insurance. Disability insurance is not deductible.
  • Interest on business credit cards and loans. As with credit card fees, interest on a card used for both personal and business expenses needs to be pro-rated.
  • Legal and professional fees, including costs for preparing the business portion of your tax return
  • Licenses and fees
  • Magazines and books that you need for your business. General circulation publications, including the local newspaper, are usually not deductible.
  • Maintenance and repairs on equipment and office or store space
  • Office supplies
  • Online fees, based on the percentage you use the Internet for business
  • Parking and tolls. Don’t forget to include the amount you spent on parking meters.
  • Payroll taxes that you pay on behalf of your employees (not the taxes that are withheld from your employee’s pay checks.)
  • Postage, delivery, and freight costs.
  • Printing, copying, and fax charges.
  • Rent of equipment and store or office space
  • Small furnishings and equipment
  • Small tools
  • Telephone (you can deduct long distance business calls made from home even if you don’t qualify for an office-in-home. Monthly service charges are deductible only if you have more than one phone line in your home.)
  • Travel for business, including costs to go to seminars and conferences. Deductible travel costs include hotels, airfare, taxis, car rentals, tips, and so on. These expenses are 100% deductible. Travel meals are only 50% deductible.
  • Uniforms or special work clothing (i.e. steel toed boots or coveralls)
  • Utilities
  • Wages paid to employees

Jan Zobel is a San Francisco tax professional (enrolled agent) who specializes in working with self-employed people. She gives more details about claiming these deductions and many more in the newly updated 3rd edition of her book Minding Her Own Business: the Self-Employed Woman’s Guide to Taxes and Recordkeeping.

Unified Communications For The Small Office

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

by David F. Carr for Forbes

Now that office networks can handle phone calls as easily as Web traffic and e-mail, network equipment suppliers are offering products with many of the useful features that become possible when voice is treated as just another kind of data.

Some of these new “Unified Communications” systems let you browse the corporate directory on your computer screen and check off the names of people you want to include in a conference call; their numbers are then dialed automatically. Most systems also feature “presence,” or the ability to see who is logged into their computer, who is away, who is on the phone and who has put up a “do not disturb” sign.

For a small business, some of these features may not be all that attractive or critical. If everyone is together in the same office, standing up and looking around the room may be an adequate “presence” system. But for those who might need some of these services, Avaya ( AV news people ) has a new line of equipment and software, IP Office 6.0, that it says supports organizations of 20 people or fewer.

Anthony Bartolo, general manager of small and medium enterprise communications at Avaya, says the new product can also expand to accommodate up to 384 users. “The aspirations of a small business are always to grow bigger, not smaller,” Bartolo says.

Because it will be used by many small organizations with few IT resources, the new system was designed with a focus on “extreme simplification,” he adds.

I can see systems like this one being useful for an organization, however small, that wants more flexibility to support mobile workers, telecommuters and what Avaya calls “power users,” who at any given time might be at their desk, at home or on the road. Avaya lets you use a Web application, the one-X Portal, to search the company directory, set up phone conferences and reconfigure your options to, for example, forward calls to your mobile phone or home phone.

You can also make home or cellphones function like an extension of your corporate phone system. Say you’re checking e-mail at a coffee shop, and see a message from a supplier in London. Through the Avaya portal, you can place a call through your company phone system, using your company’s long distance plan. The system will set up the call by first dialing out to your mobile phone, and then connecting to the overseas number.

Alternatively, if you have a headset with you, you could place the call through your laptop using Avaya’s software-based VoIP phone, or “softphone.”

Prices can vary depending on your choice of phones and other options. Avaya quoted me a sample 20-user system for $11,600, or $193 per month for 60 months under a current 0% leasing offer. That includes five licenses for power users, with the full range of Web and mobile access options, and a couple for full-time telecommuters. Everyone else would just get a desk phone. The telecommuters would get desk phones that they can bring home and use to tie into the office phone system over the Internet.

Of course, Avaya isn’t the only one that wants to sell you Unified Communications–Cisco ( CSCO news people ), Nortel, Microsoft ( MSFT news people ), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ news people ) and dozens of other computer and software players all have different spins on it.

You should also consider hosted services, including those from Cypress Communications and Cisco, where all the central phone switching and Unified Communications equipment is run out of the provider’s data center. That would certainly have advantages for a small office with few technical resources. But Bartolo says there are still plenty of small businesses that would rather invest in a new phone system as a capital expense, rather than an ongoing operational expense.

Another option is to piece together bits and pieces of this technology through free or inexpensive options–like using Skype for Internet calling, presence detection (of other Skype users) and instant messaging. Depending on what you’re using it for, that might be fine. Or it might be a false economy if what you really need is fully integrated Unified Communications that works with your office phones.