Q&A: Avaya's Service Provider Chief, Joe Manuele, on Our Cloud Strategy, Momentum

Joe Manuele is Vice President of Global Service Providers, System Integrators, Alliances, and Cloud for Avaya. I spoke with Joe earlier this week about what’s the latest in Avaya’s cloud strategy, as well as about some major partnerships on the horizon.

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To most businesspeople and even mainstream IT, cloud is still synonymous with the public cloud. In reality, however, there are many flavors of cloud. What should businesses be considering?

I was just at a meeting with a CIO where we discussed this very question. For unified communications, contact centers, and video, these are real-time services that businesses can’t afford to go down. So while our competitors will argue for ripping and replacing everything with a new public cloud infrastructure, Avaya wants to help transform our customers’ infrastructures. So it’s more of an evolution to cloud services, rather than a revolution, so that you can maintain reliability and trust, and without any disruption to their business.

For customers with 2,000 or more users, we recommend a private cloud with a managed service wrap as the first step. With this model, our customers have a foundation so that enterprise messaging applications, for example, that don’t require governance or use sensitive data, can be hosted in a public cloud. This way, you can start getting flexible, utility-based pricing with a managed service wrap. Meanwhile, your core either remains on-premises or hosted by Avaya Operations Service (AOS) in a non-shared manner. AOS already has 700 organizations representing two million communication ports using its services. This would be a hybrid cloud. Of course, whatever particular flavor of cloud that people want, Avaya can offer. Some companies may be happy to add 50 IP telephony users using Avaya or one of our partners via the public cloud. Meanwhile, a multinational firm with 20,000 employees and contact center agents will take a different approach.

 

types of cloud

Source: “The Guide to Cloud Collaboration: Three Clouds. A Million Possibilities for Businesses and Service Providers,” Avaya’s latest installment in its series of guidebooks for Enterprises and Service Providers, will be available in April.

Cloud shouldn’t be an ideology, but simply a tool for businesses. So, it’s really less about cloud, and more about business transformation, which is typically a five-year journey. If you want to learn more of my thoughts about this, check out my article, “Which Cloud is Right for You?” in the new  Avaya, The Guide to Cloud Collaboration for Enterprises and Service Providers.

How has Avaya’s cloud strategy evolved in response to these needs?

The first step in Avaya’s own journey was to virtualize as many of our apps as possible. Today, 95% of our applications are available as virtual machines. . Virtualizing our software enable enterprises to consolidate and collapse their infrastructure. We have customers that have shrunk from 30 data centers down to just two. Or take Forest City Enterprises, the billion-dollar mall operator based in Cleveland. They’ve gone from 150 physical servers to just 50, while upgrading and adding new applications. Coincidentally, this isn’t just about Avaya becoming a cloud provider, but really about Avaya’s successful transformation to a software and services company.

How are our cloud offerings different from our competitors?

There are some vendors who merely create these appliances and call it cloud. You still have to use their proprietary hardware and commit to a bunch of licenses upfront. You’re basically moving from a CapEx financial model to a lease. That’s all it is. Our software can run on any 3rd-party hardware. We aren’t just selling you a piece of software running on our own tin.

Secondly, we don’t just offer you creative financing – we deliver a truly-elastic, consumption-based model. For example, say you work at a government agency that normally has 500 employees throughout the year, except during tax season, when you need to add 200 contact center agents. During those three months, you can pay for those additional 200 users and then go back to 500 users the rest of the year. All on any hardware you want. This is true shared-risk approach.

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Related: What is Avaya’s Aura Virtualization Roadmap?

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Finally, there is no other company out there that has the product and feature breadth that Avaya does, whether you are talking on-premise or cloud-based. All of our on-premise software is virtualized, and on the path to becoming cloud-based service offers. And while some of our competitors can only offer IP telephony in the cloud, the Avaya Aura® platform covers unified communications as well as contact center applications with the same contact center control manager.

For IT, there’s zero difference in the training you need. If you know how to run Avaya IP Office on-premise, then you know how to do it in the cloud.

How is Avaya going to market with its cloud solutions?

Our strategy is to enable targeted global service providers to launch Avaya services in the cloud. We have some very big, respected names in the service provider industry – global providers and system integrators – who we are close to announcing as partners. We are also taking vertical solutions that we are being used by large customers today and extending them to commercial service providers. Stay tuned for announcements.

Besides the Avaya book mentioned above, how else can I learn more?

Talk to us at the Enterprise Connect show next week in Orlando! Avaya will have Booth 1005. For cloud solutions, visit the Avaya Cloud Marketplace inside our booth and meet our experienced team of cloud services professionals.

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Backstory: Zang Forget Me Not Service for Mother’s Day

On May 4, we announced the Zang Forget Me Not Service for Mother’s Day (press release, blog)—a free service through which people could schedule a voicemail to be delivered to their mother. Candidly, the idea was born out of a marketing meeting I, a PR manager at Avaya, attended on April 14 when thinking about what we could do to promote the simplicity, utility and virtually endless possibilities of Zang. And with Mother’s Day around the corner, the stars seemed to be aligning nicely to tie in the one day of the year that the most phone calls are made.

On April 20, I met with the head of Zang product management to run the idea by him. Much to my excitement, his response was, “Yes, that’s something that Zang can do.” Score! Now, it was just a matter of getting the project approved and resourced, which happened over the next few days. When everything was said and done, the development took all of two days, testing and UI “beautification” took another couple of days, and on Wednesday, May 4, the Zang Forget Me Not service was announced to the world.

With just 2 1/2 business days to promote the service, we hit our PR and social media goals and then some. Launching an internationally-available service during a time when several countries celebrated Mother’s Day was quite fortuitous (i.e.: U.S., Canada, India, China, Australia celebrated on May 8; Mexico celebrated on May 10). Interestingly, 55 % of the calls processed came from outside the U.S. –quite a revelation.

The Zang Forget Me Not service for Mother’s Day was a timely demonstration of the power and flexibility of Zang. The PR “stunt” provided a simple and easily understandable example for users to experience what all too often seem esoteric technical concepts. People, especially outsiders to our industry, struggle to understand what cloud, “as a Service” and other buzzwords really mean to their lives. With this easily applied concept, we brought home the realization that there are true productivity enhancing applications available to those who embrace new technologies.

Many of the questions and comments I’ve seen in response to the various blogs that featured Zang Forget Me Not are if we’ll make this available for Father’s Day? Stay tuned!

Diligent Benefits Tackles Insurance Industry Customer Experience with Avaya Cloud

Diligent Benefits represents a new breed of financial services provider, armed with innovative technology to deliver a superior experience to consumers researching and purchasing life insurance, with the goal of transforming the life insurance customer experience. To facilitate that personal touch for its customers, they turned to Avaya.

At the core of Diligent’s business model is improving the customer service experience for life insurance buyers. Diligent chose Engagement OnAvaya™ – Google™ Cloud Platform, designed with comprehensive cloud contact center capabilities. The installation helped the company enjoy the following benefits:

  • The requirements are a breeze: Agents only need an Internet connection, Chrome device and a headset or Avaya IP phone. Set up is quick for agents to immediately start using Avaya’s sophisticated customer engagement features.
  • The ability to scale quickly without missing a beat is crucial to the young company. The Avaya solution has proven an ideal fit for this fast-growth financial services company in terms of deployment speed and scalability.
  • The Avaya cloud contact center solution supports Diligent’s highly-individualized approach.

“We’re a fresh new take on the life insurance business. We don’t do one size fits all,” says John Wilhelm, founder of Diligent Benefits. “Everyone has different needs. We help our customer meet their objectives. Avaya is in many ways at the heart of what we’re trying to achieve; it brings the human touch.

“Diligent Benefits is using technology to transform the experience of buying life insurance – from increasing transparency and becoming an educational resource for consumers, down to enhancing the experience each customer has with an agent,” Wilhelm said. “The Avaya solution mirrors our methodology – a commitment to providing a turn-key solution. It’s a complete solution and it’s a great value.”

“An important reason we chose Avaya is we believe Avaya can grow with us,” said William Yuan, Diligent Benefits’ COO. “Avaya will allow us to become a very big company. We help our customer meet their objectives. Avaya enables us to do that well.”

Click here to read the full case study from Avaya.

Avaya Launches Zang.io

Today I would like to share with you news concerning an exciting innovation by Avaya called Zang.

This marks an important milestone in the execution of Avaya’s vision and strategy. Our vision is of Avaya Everywhere: embedding communications capabilities into as many apps and mobile devices as we can. I’m really pleased to announce we have launched today an entirely new, cloud-based communications platform-as-a-service called Zang. You can find the press release here.

Zang helps companies and people collaborate with greater speed in the digital world by improving how they communicate with customers and employees.

This 100 percent cloud-based offering will be available at Zang.io.

Zang’s key components include a communications platform-as-a-service, application development environment, embedded communications and persistent spaces application. Together, these core elements deliver a higher quality and more easily customizable user experience than anything else available in the market today.

Smart apps built on Zang allow people to define how they want to work and connect. Zang enables easy “click-to-connect” communications with high-quality video, chat, voice, SMS and document sharing from mobile, web or desktop environments.

Unlike other solutions that offer rudimentary APIs, Zang’s highly interoperable platform provides complete workflow automation and sophisticated application development capabilities. This means developers and end users can use Zang apps with other communications apps like Cisco Spark, Skype for Business, and Google Hangouts to enable everyday work applications and customers’ favorite touch-points.

Zang is already proven with customers. Thousands of developers have used Zang’s communications services, including TelTech Corporation, whose TapeACall app is currently among the 5 top-grossing apps in the business category of the iTunes app store.

We’ll announce more details about Zang in the coming days and weeks. We encourage developers to learn more at Zang.io.