Avaya: Flare video support coming for iPad, Windows PCs, Android

Avaya plans to extend video support for its Flare communications interface to the iPad, Windows PCs and Android devices during the next year and half, according to company executives.

Weeks after Cisco announced it would drop development of its Cius tablet, Avaya executives have said they are not giving up on the company's tablet, named the Avaya Desktop Video Device (ADVD). But, while the ADVD will still be available, the company is focusing resources on developing the software applications to extend Avaya's Flare communications interface to other devices.

Avaya already has an app to run Flare on the iPad, called Flare Communicator, but it only works with audio, instant messaging and presence functions. Avaya expects to include support for videoconferencing before the end of the year, says Mark Monday, vice president of product management for Avaya endpoints. The company hopes to roll out video support for Windows PCs on the Flare platform this year as well. Support for videoconferencing on Android tablets will follow next year, says company spokesperson Deborah Kline. "We're going to continue to invest because customers continue to ask for new features," says Monday.

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But, even as Avaya says it plans to work on both the hardware are software side of its video collaboration platform, analysts say the real focus for Avaya will be on extending Flare and the underlying platform that powers it, named Aura. Flare and the Flare Communicator are merely applications and the user interface to access the Aura platform, which the company monetizes, says Gartner enterprise communications analyst Steve Cramoysan. So, it's in the company's interest to extend the services across as many devices as possible.

Extending support for other devices is also an acknowledgement of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, says Cramoysan. Increasingly, enterprises are looking for management tools to control BYOD policies. "Mobile device management is a key challenge from BYOD," he says, noting that IT shops are figuring out how to manage the devices workers already own. In that sense, it only makes sense for Avaya to extend support for its communications platform and tools on to other devices, he says.

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Avaya officials say they're committed to the ADVD hardware device, too. It's aimed at the enterprise communications market and is meant to be a desktop device to enable video communications.

"We're not in the market to compete against the iPad," Monday says, but, he does see a variety of use cases for the ADVD and iPad to work simultaneously. The ADVD, he says, is an "always on, always ready" device that many customers use as their desktop communications device, able to coordinate voice and video calls.

Other analysts believe it could just be a matter of time before the ADVD hardware is dropped though. "I'm surprised they haven't given up on [the ADVD] yet," says Blair Pleasant, an analyst at UCStrategies.com. Avaya has always planned to extend its service to Apple and Android products, she says. Still though, even with the software apps being extended to more devices, the Flare support on various devices is still targeted at a limited audience of existing Avaya customers because the Aura communications platform is needed to run the Flare application.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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