Lucent spinoff revamps messaging pricing

Lucent Technologies' enterprise spinoff has hit on a way to encourage use of emerging applications like unified messaging and speech recognition: include them free in voice-mail systems.

Avaya, which is scheduled to spin off from Lucent on October 1, has announced a new pricing model for its wide range of messaging servers such as the Intuity Audix and Octel 250 and 350.

The traditional way of selling such systems is by the port -- the number of callers who can leave messages at one time -- plus a fee for the amount of voice-mail storage available.

Now Avaya will sell such systems by seats -- the number of end users who have mailboxes -- and add standard enhancements that encourage users to integrate voice mail with e-mail and collaboration applications.

"We're no longer selling message storage hours," says Mike Goldgof, Avaya's vice president and general manager for messaging systems.

Such enhancements, which Avaya calls "e-business-enabling capabilities", include visual desktop access to voice and fax messages plus LAN interfaces for the message servers. For Intuity Audix they also include a start-up kit for Lucent's Voice Director application that enables callers to use spoken names rather than extension numbers.

Some configurations will enjoy outright price decreases in addition to new standard features. For example, an Intuity Audix system for 100 seats will be priced at $US20,000, compared to more than $42,000 under the old pricing, Avaya says. An Octel 250 system for 900 seats will go for $110,000, compared to more than $164,000 before.

But Avaya officials left it clear that they will actively promote the use of the company's fee-based Messaging Professional Services with messaging contracts. Even remote implementation support will trigger an additional fee, Goldgof says.

Unified messaging has been adopted by a limited segment of the user population, notably mobile workers, says Nancy Jamison, principal analyst with Jamison Consulting. Now Avaya is trying to make it easier for network managers to let their users find out if it's for them. "The strategy is: let's put unified messaging out there and see if they can use it," Jamison says.

Avaya's site, though live at http://www.avaya.com, is essentially under construction. More complete information is currently available at http://www.lucent.com/enterprise.

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