What's Avaya's Aura Virtualization Roadmap?

Tac Berry is a senior product marketing manager at Avaya, with 3 decades of experience in marketing and business development in the voice and data communications industry. I spoke to Tac at the Avaya Evolutions San Francisco show earlier this week about the strong customer uptake in virtualizing their Avaya Aura unified communications applications on VMware, as well as our roadmap for VMware compatibility. Below is a transcript of our conversation:

tac berry pic cropped


This Avaya CONNECTED Blog is also available as an MP3 Audio File


Fletch: We previously talked, I think it was around VMWorld last year, about the effort to provide customers Avaya Aura and other applications on a VMWare as they completely virtualize that deployment model. How’s that  going?

Berry: So far the response has been very positive. To date we have more than 1,200 installations of Avaya applications on customer-provided VMWare architecture. This includes the Avaya Aura core applications, like Communications Manager and Session Manager, as well as multiple Call Center Elite applications like Elite Multichannel and Experience portals.

Fletch: That sounds pretty positive. Do all customers see benefits when they do this?

Berry: Yeah, they all do. Existing Avaya customers see the immediate reduction in their total cost of ownership for their systems. Where they just want to add on some applications like AES or session manager or CMS, or want to upgrade to the latest release of Avaya Aura, they’re telling us that moving to a virtualized architecture saves them money, time, service cost, all the key savings that will maybe contribute to their bottom line.


Read in-depth about one of our Aura-on-VMware customers, Forest City Enterprises.


And even new systems see this deployment option as a real step forward when contemplating to move to expanding their collaboration. By being able to integrate the Avaya applications within their existing IT data infrastructure, their existing data network, the typical gains in enterprise is already recognized in virtualizing the data applications are now extended, to the integration of real time collaboration. They get to replace their existing telephony solution with an industry-leading architecture for full collaboration, while minimizing the total cost of the solution with reduced hardware reduced energy and reduced maintenance cost. So existing customers, or even new customers all see virtualization as a real positive move forward when they’re ready to get serious about an Avaya collaboration solution.

Fletch: Yeah, but Tac, what about the solution roadmap? What’s going to happen next, ’cause that’s really where the rubber meets the road for people.

Berry: Well, you know road map is important. And it’s important from our point of view ’cause we want to make sure our customers and our partners see this isn’t a one-time thing for us. We see this as an ongoing strategy for future products and solutions. Even Brett Shockley this morning mentioned at Evolutions that Avaya understands our customers recognize virtualization as a key technology for their future. And we need to continually support this technology so it’ll be simpler for customers to integrate into existing systems that make adding new solutions less costly with shorter installation times and overall provide a more efficient architecture for the next generation. And virtualization for Avaya covers the complete stack as we like to say. Jean Turgeon mentioned this in this talk on Sochi Olympics just this morning about the network, that Avaya sees virtualization in the network fabric as key for the next generation of seamless, highly-efficient data connectivity. And of course Avaya from the product side sees virtualization of collaboration features as key for the future integration of true unified collaboration.

As an update, you probably know that the new development interface, Collaboration Environment, is available as a VMWare compatible OVA file. So it integrates easily with any virtualized customer environment. We just released a virtualized version of IP Office, and we’re about to announce virtualized versions of Avaya Aura Messaging and Communication Manager Messaging. So, these have all been key asks by existing customers, so that when they move to a completely virtualized Avaya Aura architecture, they have all the pieces they need. And then later this year, we’ll also introduce a virtualized deployment option for Avaya Aura conferencing. And then even more virtualized options for Call Center Elite, as well as Avaya Aura Contact Center. I don’t think there’s a development project within the enterprise collaboration business area that is not considering virtualization now as the key building block for what they do in the future.

Fletch: You know I’ve seen Avaya support virtualization for the future across a lot of different things, and it makes it all seem very real to me, and I’m sure the customers are going to see the value as well.

Berry: Absolutely. It is real and it is important. When we talked to our business partners and our end customers we want to make sure they understand how important virtualization as a deployment solution for our applications can be. It should be offered to every existing customer as an alternative moving forward. It needs to be part of their future considerations of how and when to advance their Avaya Aura release level.

We want it to be an important part of their decision process to expand their network. And it’s critical for them to include virtualization as a key incentive when they see the need for more mobility or video collaboration. Virtualization we understand is the key for the next generation of private networks. It is the reason for the next generation of hybrid and cloud networks. Virtualization offers the most economical solution for incorporating an Avaya real time application, and to any customer environment. With Avaya offering the most flexible and open solutions for use and collaboration, our customers are going to have the most flexible deployment options combined with the most complete set of collaboration features in the market.

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Avaya Aura® Platform—The Original Pragmatic Hybrid Cloud

In a recent InfoWorld post David Linthicum wrote of “an organic movement driven by rank-and-file enterprise IT people who simply want to solve their issues using the best technology and approach.” Linthicum called this the “pragmatic hybrid cloud.” Reading this from the perspective of someone with decades of experience in the enterprise communications market, my immediate reactions was, “Aha, he’s talking about the Avaya Aura® Platform.” He isn’t, but here I’ll explain why this thought struck me.

Linthicum writes, “What this movement has discovered is that you can combine the public cloud and modernize some of your legacy systems to be more cloudlike.” That is exactly what Avaya customers have been achieving in an evolutionary process spanning almost two decades. Long before the term cloud came into vogue, Avaya customers have been able to gain the benefits of the cloud paradigm while avoiding the need to comprehensively lift workloads to a public cloud provider and the need to wholesale forklift and abandon existing investments.

Today, many Avaya customers—including a large swath of the globe’s most notable organizations in industries ranging from financial services, to healthcare, to government, and many small and medium businesses—process their mission-critical workloads using a combination of premise-based solutions and both public and private cloud-served applications. It is a “pragmatic hybrid” approach that since the mid-2000s has provided these Avaya customers with unparalleled reliability, cost savings, and business agility.

The Avaya Aura Platform is the reason why. Avaya Aura had its genesis in a time tested methodology for allowing geographically distributed organizations to link islands of resources to gain economies of scale. Back in the day, to create either a contact center that followed the sun or a single enterprise communications solution that served the needs of a worldwide workface, expensive dedicated circuits were required. As IP Telephony evolved, companies began to use packet-switched technologies to more cost-effectively link together distant resources into single holistic systems. Rather than centralized in isolated locations, communications applications could now be seamlessly and cost-effectively shared across distances. This made new ways to organize communication assets and the work that depended upon those resources possible.

Avaya’s great insight was to take advantage of the session initiation protocol (SIP). Over time Avaya’s customers have “pragmatically” converted the networking connections of their existing standalone investments to create fabrics of SIP internetworked appliances. The Avaya Aura® Session Manager lets companies treat their owned assets as part of a private cloud and combine those resources with public cloud capabilities both from Avaya and from a growing ecosystem of additional providers. It is a strategy that has resulted in significant cost savings while unleashing new innovation.

Today the Avaya Aura Platform has moved far beyond simply a “pragmatic hybrid” for sharing resources. It has become a strategic tool for many organizations. It gives companies a flexibility and agility to adapt and reconfigure at the speed of business. Avaya Aura has also opened the doors to both internal Avaya inventions and new external development.

Avaya Breeze™ Platform is but the latest application development platform that takes advantage of Avaya Aura. Avaya, Avaya’s customers, and an industry of third-party companies are leveraging Breeze with their own creativity for solving business problems. Breeze allows the creation of unique ways to leverage the inherent capabilities of Avaya products in combination with cloud and third-party capabilities. Whether those assets reside in a private data center, on premises-based servers, or in public clouds, because of the Avaya Aura Platform, the only barriers to progress are the limits of human ingenuity.

Linthicum concluded that, the “pragmatic approach is very sensible. It makes the most of what you have, reducing the need for new resources and letting you transition to the cloud at a pace you can handle, both in terms of cost and time.” Your Path, Your Pace, Your Choice, where have I heard that before? Avaya circa 2004 maybe? Nice to see the industry finally following Avaya’s lead.


Zang Serves Up a Special Delivery for Your Mom this Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is the one day in the U.S. when the most phone calls are made. According to this cool Mother’s Day Facts site, 122 million calls are made to mothers on Mother’s Day in the United States alone. Considering there are only 85 million mothers in the U.S., Mom must be pretty busy taking calls from her multiple children, and Dad must be busy making reservations at the favorite family restaurant (Mother’s Day remains the top holiday for dining out).

To help make sure Mom gets that special call on Mother’s Day, Zang today announced a Zang-built service for those who 1) are multiple time zones away from mom (ie: military, working or studying abroad), 2) just want to send another thoughtful gift to Mom to let her know she’s loved, or 3) frankly, for those who have a track record for forgetting (you know who you are). With the Zang Forget Me Not service, anyone can record a voicemail for their mom before Mother’s Day, designate the date & time the voicemail should be sent, then receive a text confirming the voicemail was delivered. The new service was created using  cloud-based Zang Comms platform as a service, which allows anyone to create communication applications and services just like Forget Me Not.

How does it work, you ask? Simple. First go to www.zang.io/callmom and complete four short steps:

1)  Enter your telephone phone number
2)  Enter recipient’s telephone number
3)  Pick the time you would like the recording to be delivered
4)  Zang Forget Me Not service will then call your phone number for you to record, review and approve your message for delivery.


Go ahead—give it a try! It’s just one more surprise you can give Mom this Mother’s Day.

Next time you visit Dubai, take a public transport

With happiness being a key focus in Dubai, government agencies are looking towards contributing to the goal of raising the quality of life of customers and ensuring public happiness. These agencies are quickly realizing that the key to delivering a better and more personalized experience is technology. Using the latest services and solutions paves the way to guaranteed customer retention and loyalty.

One of the leading organizations in the area of customer care, winning multiple awards for its contact centre operations including a Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart Government Award, is the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA).

The RTA has a wide remit including Dubai’s Metro, public buses, private road vehicle registration, traffic management and more, so it has a diverse customer base negotiating Dubai’s busy transport system, with a volume of customer enquiries to match. It therefore comes as no surprise that the RTA is investing in multiple channels of communications with its customers, to improve standards of service, increase efficiency and gain valuable feedback from its user. It is also looking to technology to help improve the quality of interactions with clients and to improve overall levels of customer satisfaction and engagement. It has utilized a number of different solutions to increase its outreach to customers, and over time the focus of these efforts has evolved, to include voice communications, smart apps and multi-channel engagement.

From projects and operational perspective, RTA has a big focus on alternative smart channels. It offers 173 smart services under nine apps, that can help customers complete their transactions with a click of the finger through the automation of the main services the authority provides. It is dedicated to opening up more channels of communication, with an omni-channel strategy, that includes delivering services through channels such as self-service kiosks. At present the RTA has deployed around 16 kiosks, which offer smart services to users in RTA service centres, and in future it plans to have around 100 kiosks all over the city. The Authority has a well-established customer care line, which handles enquiries across the range of its activities, running on Avaya contact centre solutions. In 2015, the centre handled over 2.5 million calls, with over 80% of calls responded to in 20 seconds, and 90% of issues resolved in one call.

To make this possible, last year the contact centre underwent a major technology refresh, to put in place the latest generation of solutions. With Avaya Aura, RTA is now using the most recent software to increase the efficiency of the contact centre. With the aim to deliver the best possible interaction experience to transport customers, Avaya aligned with RTA’s Customer Resource Management strategy to consolidate channels and mediums into RTA’s first, best-in-class contact center to host multi-channel interactions. Among the capabilities that the new technology has enabled is an advanced Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, which has helped to improve operations by automatically handling some of the more common customer enquiries. On New Year’s Eve the centre received some 12,000 calls, with the IVR handling one third of all enquiries.

The RTA is a pioneering example of how technology can make the difference in delivering quality to customers through the creation of a seamless and hassle free experience. As we share the RTA’s vision in excelling in customer experiences to achieve happiness, my advice to you is that, next time you visit Dubai, remember to take a  public transport.