Enterprise Communications

Avaya Connects with Skype for Low Cost Calling and Federated UC

by Rob Arnold 29 Sep 2010
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 Avaya and Skype announced a strategic partnership to integrate Avaya communications platforms with Skype Connect.

Known as Skype for SIP during its beta testing period, the rebranded Skype Connect offering was launched August 30.

The Avaya-Skype integration will take place in two phases.

 Phase 1

This phase involves integration that enables calls to be routed by an Avaya PBX through the Skype network. Businesses can: establish Skype Click & Call buttons for inbound calling from Web sites; establish Skype Online Numbers for inbound calling from landline and mobile phones; and Route inbound calls from a Skype user to an enterprise extension. Skype Connect calls can also be made from a PBX extension to Skype users. Avaya BCM, IP Office, and CS 1000 systems will support the capability, while Avaya Aura Session Manager and SES will be required for Avaya Aura Communication Manager customers. Customers will be required to have a Skype Connect account. Avaya PBX integration with Skype Connect will be available in October.

 Phase 2

In this development phase the two vendors plan to federate their respective instant messaging and video applications, allowing Avaya users and Skype users to communicate with one another via instant messaging and video calling. Just as with the voice integration, security and policy enforcement for IM and video federation can be managed and controlled by the enterprise IT department. The capability is due to be available in the second half of 2011.

Avaya will be first to market with its Skype Connect integrations should the promised October release date be met. The capability will surely be appreciated by Avaya customers as a low cost means to add value to their communications systems. By making it easier and more cost effective for Skype users to contact them, there is no doubt that Skype Connect integration will be of great benefit to contact centers and sales organizations that rely on Avaya PBXs. There will be new OPEX opportunities as well, such as reducing cost by transitioning toll free numbers to the Skype network or directing remote workers and telecommuters to communicate primarily via Skype. With regard to Phase 2, Avaya customers, particulalry SMBs, will find the Skype integration an affordable opportunity to bring video, IM and presence into their organizations. Concerns that some customers may have over Skype reliability and security should be eased by Avaya's sanctioned certification of interoperability, as well as by the tools available for policy enforcement and control. Further, Avaya has been working toward federated IM and presence for some time via Presence Service. The company stressed openness and interoperability when it introduced its new video portfolio two weeks ago and 18 months ago when it introduced the Avaya Aura architecture to foster multi-vendor interoperability. Avaya's planned developments with Skype are solid demonstration of its continued commitment.

However, the availability of the Avaya-Skype Connect integrations will be limited to the US in the near term. And there are some hesitations to characterize this alliance and its forthcoming solutions as lasting differentiators because the relationship is non-exclusive. Well underway are developments for Skype Connect interoperability certification with a number of other communications systems suppliers, including BroadSoft, Cisco, Grandstream, LG-Ericsson, ShoreTel, Siemens Enterprise, Digium, 3CX and SIPfoundry. We should expect to see more announcements from Skype and PBX developers before long. Concerns about the Avaya-Skype alliance also stem from the present lack of a fully baked go-to-market strategy. Still to be finalized are plans for fulfillment and delivery of the solution, what the licensing model/pricing should be, and customer support. Admittedly it is still early days, but there are important issues to be hashed out and not much time to do it with other PBX vendors close behind on the same development trail.




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