Avaya scales up its VoIP support

Avaya will increase the scale of its IP PBX to help customers support more remote offices over WAN connections, and more IP phones over a LAN.

An upgrade to Avaya's Communications Manager software, which runs on its S8700 and S8300 IP PBXs, and traditional Definity PBXs, can increase the number of remote offices tied to an Avaya IP PBX fivefold while letting remote-office gateways support twice as many IP phones.

Avaya also is introducing an applications server for adding interactive voice response (IVR) software to a converged network as an end-user productivity tool.

The new Communications Manager software running on Avaya's S8700 - a Linux-based central-site IP PBX - now can support up to 250 remote offices, provided that the sites have Avaya's G700 remote gateway. The G700 is a chassis that can provide IP public switched telephone network (PSTN) and voice-over-IP (VoIP) connectivity via an IP WAN remote office.

The gateway can be configured with a S8300 IP PBX processing blade, which supports up to 450 IP phones in a branch office. If WAN connectivity to a central site is lost, the S8300s can take over and provide full telephony features and PSTN access for branch users.

New software for the S8300 could increase the number of phones that can run off the box from 250 to 450, the company said.

Avaya has renamed the software running its IP PBXs and PBXs from Multivantage to Avaya Communications Manager. The brand Multivantage will encompass Avaya's family of convergence products, from IP PBX hardware and software to applications, voice mail, unified messaging and Communications Manager product.

"Avaya is delivering on what it promised almost a year and a half ago," senior analyst with Current Analysis, Brian Riggs, said.

The scalability increases were significant for Avaya if it wanted to challenge Cisco in the IP telephony market and convert its own customer base from PBXs to IP PBXs," Riggs said.

"They'd better scale up to that level if they want to market (the S8700) as the IP equivalent to the Definity," he said.

The increase in support for remote sites was still important, Riggs said, because Avaya's G700 and S8300 product solution for remote-site survivability was one of the vendor's best technologies.

"Avaya's survivability story is strong," Riggs said. "It's even better than Cisco in many respects."

He was referring to Cisco's Survivable Remote Site Telephony technology for support of remote offices with VoIP.

Riggs said that Avaya's remote sites offered local IP phone users more features in the event of a IP WAN connection failure than Cisco's technology.

Avaya also was announcing a new IVR server application. The Avaya Speech Access server was software that ran on a Windows 2000 Server and lets the S8700's calling features be accessed with voice commands, either from an Avaya IP phone or via a PSTN call to an access number on the IP PBX.

The server can let end users call other employees by name. If integrated with a voice mail or email server, Avaya Speech Access can let end users browse through and delete voice mail and e-mail messages with voice commands.

Avaya said the Speech Access server would cost $US12,000, including hardware, with 200 free licenses. Additional licenses cost $3 per month, per user.

The IP-based software allowed for a less expensive IVR deployment because speech-recognition features on its TDM-based systems in the past cost about $30 per user, per month, the company said.

Software upgrades for the S8700 and S8300 IP PBXs were free to customers with maintenance contracts.

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