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.

Related Articles:

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.

8 Questions to Help Decide if You are Getting the Most From Your Cloud

Concerns around security and accountability remain top of mind (and top-of-budget) for today’s IT managers. Such concerns are the natural progression of a trend that we saw coming in 2009–discussed in our 2010 trends forecast–and have seen evolve into three different cloud worlds with different outcomes and possibilities. Fueled by department-by-department adoption of applications (many cloud based) filling vertical business needs now touches every part of an organization.

In a recent survey, 46 percent of IT executives said they were dealing with an average of four or more applications. The survey, sponsored by thinkJar and conducted by Beagle Research, polled 148 IT executives and found IT managers are “being overtaxed with work and unable to keep up with new requests and new demands,” concluding that the average IT manager is taking on more cloud services than they can handle.

Software applications in the enterprise are prolific today, and will only grow. Researchers at Strategy Analytics forecast there will be 33 billion devices in use by 2020. These new devices and applications are accelerating demand for the three clouds identified in our 2016 trend report: “80%+ of enterprises will use Public cloud, but Hybrid/Private cloud will remain the critical application workhorse for next 5 years.” We wrote:

“Going to Cloud has many benefits, but it can also lead to some new challenges that businesses need to consider. As solutions move from homogenous, monolithic technology to heterogeneous technology running on layers upon layers of cloud infrastructure, customers get increasingly concerned about Cloud security and accountability for service delivery/support of the full solution. Customers will demand accountability and value from their “point” vendors, requiring strong relationships and mastery of the infrastructure implications which includes the Cloud applications, as well as the network and desktop/mobile devices which served them.”

The Cloud was supposed to make things simpler. Instead, the added complexity of multiple applications, off-premise network quality, and interoperability ended up taxing already overwhelmed IT departments, which face new requests and new demands every day. As the Beagle Research/thinkJar study concluded, “it is a point of failure for all cloud adoption projects that IT cannot keep up with demand… New resources must be cloud-aware and cloud-educated to reduce the potential number of problems that adopting cloud applications engender for organizations.”

More concerning, perhaps, are security breaches caused by well-meaning employees. Gartner recently predicted that by the year 2020, some 95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.

“Many organizations still harbor security concerns about use of public cloud services. However, only a small percentage of security incidents impacting enterprises using the cloud have been due to vulnerabilities that were the provider’s fault. Customers increasingly will use cloud access security brokers products to manage and monitor their use of SaaS and other forms of public cloud services.”

In a separate report, Gartner analysts predict security will be a big cloud differentiator. “Security will displace cost and agility as the primary reason for government agencies to switch to the public cloud,” writes Computer Business Review, commenting on the Gartner report. “Increased security will be the primary driver for the extensive adoption of public cloud options for digital government platforms.” Gartner research director Neville Cannon added:

“Many cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google, invest heavily in incorporating higher levels of security into their products to continue building confidence that their data is more secure. Many of these providers can invest more than what most nations could afford, let alone the average government agency.”

Surging demand for security, accountability and results will only rise in importance as IT managers are under pressure to make the most of cloud investments. Maximizing the investment begins with development of a comprehensive strategy and a partner with industry expertise, stronger and more adaptable infrastructures, commitment to best practices, and of course, a commitment to security.

So, are you getting the most from your cloud investment? Consider these 8 questions to evaluate if you are getting the most out of your cloud strategy and deployments and where you need to be change course going forward:

  • Different cloud models can lead to different outcomes. Is your business plan and current cloud strategy still aligned in terms of best outcomes? The attributes of the different cloud models lend themselves to different outcomes (Private provides customization, hybrid more flexibility…public provides rapid scale of cookie cutter applications)
  • Is your current solution delivering on the three biggest engagement and collaboration benefits — productivity, customer experience, and profitability?
  • Are all of the company’s key constituents, including employees and business units, supply chain providers, and customers, realizing all of the benefits you expected from the current cloud solution? Some may want to rapidly try new cloud application startups; some may need the cloud access for critical core business applications.
  • Recent studies have shown that 8 out of 10 new applications are introduced via the cloud. How easy is it to roll out new cloud services demanding performance, reliability, and security in your current IT environment?
  • Does your current delivery model enable scalability while managing demand spikes of critical core applications?
  • Can your current network and access to cloud provider data centers provide the necessary flexibility and quality of service to maximize cloud application experience?
  • Does the cloud solution have easy to use consumer-like tools that can be quickly adopted users without the need for extensive training?
  • While often overlooked, as the number of cloud applications are leveraged in an organization, so does the human resources to managed cloud vendors and integration. Do you have enough resources to effectively manage your cloud vendors?

Will you be ready to layer in new cloud applications coming in 2016? What security issues do you foresee in 2016? What questions are you asking when choosing a vendor?

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