Avaya today released IP Office 8.1, the latest version of its unified communications (UC) solution for small and midsized businesses.
IP Office 8.1 adds capabilities to tap the full potential of next-generation collaboration. This includes new mobility, management, and security features and custom-built services to help SMBs take advantage of bring-your-own-device environments and advanced mobility.
One of the major changes is the increased scale. Avaya IP Office 8.1 now scales up to 1,000 users in a single location (up from 384) or to multiple users across 32 locations simultaneously. This gives midsized companies a way to manage more people on a network.
Avaya IP Office 8.1 introduces the following:
- Avaya Flare Communicator, the advanced mobility app previously only available to large enterprises, is now available to Avaya IP Office SMB users on Apple iPad tablets or Windows-based laptops. It enables mobile access to collaboration capabilities, such as business-class calling, presence, company directory search, and management of two simultaneous calls while mobile. Avaya Flare Communicator for iPad tablets lets users drag and drop available contacts into a spotlight, and launch instant messages, voice calls, or email by simply tapping the screen.
- New Centralized Management and licensing capabilities eliminate the complexity of overseeing communications for multisite environments by enabling management of several sites from one location. This gives managers a single view of every user on the system at one time.
- Enhanced Security Options, with protection against toll fraud, denial of service attacks, and other threats through use of a new Avaya Session Border Controller, a solution delivering a protective SIP-based firewall. Advanced capabilities for mobile workers include the ability to encrypt media and signaling connections without using a VPN for UC.
- Avaya IP Office Support Service, the first support service from Avaya for SMBs, provides fast resolution, technical support from experts, and secure remote access. New SSL-VPN capabilities embedded in Avaya IP Office 8.1 help ensure secure delivery of upgrades, patches, and Web-based services. These services are available at a fixed price per system.
Avaya IP Office is sold exclusively through Avaya's channel partners. "We received a lot of feedback from our business partners to take IP Office up market," says Mark Massingham, senior product manager of IP Office. "They felt they were missing a big opportunity there."
The new version of IP Office "is more cost-effective and easier to manage for mid-market firms and more customer-friendly for all users," Massingham adds.
It represents "a shift for our business partners into the mid-market, and an extension of unified communications into that area," Massingham says.
Mark Monday, vice president of collaboration platforms at Avaya, agrees. "With the bar raised on all aspects of business mobility, security, and management, Avaya is bringing its innovation to the forefront of the SMB space and extending it further into the mid-market," he said in a statement. "Avaya IP Office 8.1 introduces new capabilities that help our customers and partners succeed in a shifting collaboration landscape, while ensuring they have the capacity to meet expanding communications needs."
That has been the experience of Techna Glass, a car windshield repair shop, which was involved in beta tests of IP Office 8.1.
"With IP Office, managing our communications system couldn't be any easier," says Rick Maciel, business systems manager at Techna Glass. "As a growing windshield installation company-with 18 locations and a busy contact center operation-we require a reliable communications system that supports the highest levels of customer service. Avaya IP Office 8.1 helps us by enabling large volumes of call flows to move smoothly, and providing a great way to manage communications across all locations."