First American Business Enterprise

Avaya Messaging voicemail

Avaya’s Aura Messaging (AAM) server is another component of the Avaya UC platform. With Aura Messaging, companies can have fast and easy access to messages. Critical new messages can alert employees and help maintain high customer service standards in any type of business.

Aura Messaging is more than a simple messaging and voicemail server. It carries advanced functions, such as Speech Auto Attendant, which allows callers to say a name instead of entering an extension; Notify Me, which sends text messages and email notification while calling the user; Voice Recognition, which allows users to say names to address voicemail messages; and many more functions.

Some other neat features include Speech-to-Text, which converts voicemail to text and delivers it to a user’s email; Self-Administration so users can manage their options via a provided Web portal; Internet Message Access Protocol support, which allows companies to use their preferred email client; and Avaya one-X Speech, which gives users the power to manage their voice messages, email and calendar via verbal commands.

Aura Messaging can support up to 20,000 users and 300 ports, depending on the deployment configuration.

Presence Services for enhanced collaboration

Avaya’s Aura Presence Services is an Avaya UC server designed to help users collaborate more effectively by collecting and broadcasting presence information across all users connected to the Aura Platform. Using the presence information, users can see who is busy, away from their desk, on the phone, doesn’t want to be disturbed, or simply not available, therefore saving time.

Aura Presence Services are primarily used to power other Avaya presence and instant messaging clients, adding more value and functionality to them and delivering full UC services. Some application examples include Avaya Communicator (softphone); Avaya Aura Agent Desktop; Avaya one-X Communicator; Avaya one-X Attendant; and Avaya IP phones, such as the 96X0 Series and 96X1 Series.

Mitel announces definitive agreement to acquire Polycom

Polycom logoCombines global technology leaders to create a complete communications and collaboration portfolio and an enhanced ability to deliver profitable growth

  • Creates new $2.5 billion revenue company with scale and differentiated portfolio to expand in evolving enterprise communications market
  • Delivers attractive value for Mitel and Polycom’s shareholders with significant operating leverage and synergy opportunities
  • Polycom brand to be retained
  • Results in a significant reduction in net debt leverage ratio
  • Transaction expected to be accretive to Mitel in 2017 

OTTAWA and SAN JOSE, Calif., April 15, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Mitel (Nasdaq:MITL) (TSX:MNW) and Polycom(Nasdaq:PLCM), today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement in which Mitel will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Polycom common stock in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $1.96 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Polycom stockholders will be entitled to $3.12 in cash and 1.31 Mitel common shares for each share of Polycom common stock, or $13.68 based on the closing price of a Mitel common share on April 13, 2016. The transaction represented a 22% premium to Polycom shareholders based on Mitel’s and Polycom’s “unaffected” share prices as of April 5, 2016 and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

New company with shared vision for seamless communications and collaboration

The combined company will be headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, and will operate under the Mitel name while maintaining Polycom’s strong global brand. Richard McBee, Mitel’s Chief Executive Officer will lead the combined organization. Steve Spooner, Mitel’s Chief Financial Officer, will also continue in that role. Once merged, the combined company will have a global workforce of approximately 7,700 employees.

“Mitel has a simple vision – to provide seamless communications and collaboration to customers. To bring that vision to life we are methodically putting the puzzle pieces in place to provide a seamless customer experience across any device and any environment,” said Mitel CEO Rich McBee. “Polycom is one of the most respected brands in the world and is synonymous with the high quality and innovative conference and video capabilities that are now the norm of everyday collaboration. Together with industry-leading voice communications from Mitel, the combined company will have the talent and technology needed to truly deliver integrated solutions to businesses and service providers across enterprise, mobile and cloud environments.”

“Together, Polycom and Mitel expect to drive meaningful value for our shareholders, customers, partners and employees around the world,” said Peter Leav, President and CEO of Polycom. “We look forward to working closely with the Mitel team to ensure a smooth transition and continued innovation to bring the workplace of the future to our customers.”

Global scale and strategic scope provide key customer benefits

The combined global company will offer customers an integrated technology experience supported by an impressive ecosystem of partners. Key market positions include:

  • #1 in business cloud communications (i)
  • #1 in IP/PBX extensions in Europe (ii)
  • #1 in conference phones (iii)
  • #1 in Open SIP sets (iv)
  • #2 in video conferencing (v)
  • #2 in installed audio (vi)
  • Installed customer base in more than 82% of Fortune 500 companies
  • Deep product integration with Microsoft solutions
  • Mobile deployments in 47 of the world’s top 50 economies
  • Combined portfolio of more than 2,100 patents and more than 500 patents pending
  • Global presence across five continents with approximately 7,700 employees worldwide

Enhanced platform expected to deliver profitable growth with opportunities for synergies and significant debt deleveraging

The combined company will have a significantly larger financial platform with the scope, scale and operating leverage needed to strategically expand in an actively evolving market.

Transaction Details

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year, subject to stockholder approval by Polycom and Mitel, receipt of regulatory approval in certain jurisdictions and other customary closing conditions. Following the closing of the transaction, former Polycom shareholders are expected to hold approximately 60% and current Mitel shareholders are expected to hold approximately 40% of the outstanding Mitel common shares.

Source:  Mitel Website

Avaya Marks a Decade as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony

Old Phone 2Avaya, a global leader in business communications systems, soft-ware and services, today announced it has reached one full decade as a Leader in Gartner Magic Quad-rant for Corporate Telephony with the most recent report.

The 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony report notes that the “market is evolving from a focus on innovation in proprietary hardware to use of commodity hardware and standards-based software. While most telephony solutions shipping today are Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled or IP-PBX solutions, the associated endpoints are a mix of time division multiplexing (TDM) and IP.”

Avaya has fully embraced these trends by offering telephony as both a fully virtualized solution for customer-preferred servers and in an appliance model on commodity servers optimized for Avaya. In terms of end points, Avaya uniquely offers TDM and IP enabled end-points for H.323 and SIP as well as a comprehensive client for Windows, Android and iOS devices.

When it comes to purchasing new or upgrading systems, Gartner recommends that “decision criteria for corporate telephony platforms should focus on high-availability, scalable solutions, which support Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), desktop and softphone functionality, and the ability to integrate with enterprise IT applications while delivering toll-grade voice quality.”

Avaya’s standards-based (SIP) telephony software delivers high quality voice capabilities that can be seamlessly extended to and accessed from desktop phones, softphones and mobile devices. Avaya Aura® Communication Manager, the company’s flagship telephony and unified communications technology for enterprises, supports some of the world’s largest contact centers, global businesses, and highly critical emergency communications operations.

With the acquisition of Esna earlier this year, Avaya now enables workers to access communications from inside browser-based applications such as Salesforce, Google for Work, Microsoft 365 and others, eliminating the need for them to move in and out of different applications and thus streamlining work streams and display screens. Avaya Engagement Development Platform enables developers to use a simple tool to tightly integrate communications into business processes and contextual data to further streamline workflows and increase productivity.

Quotes
“The expectation of simplicity, quality and speed of implementation for telephony is higher than any other technology. It’s been a driving factor in everything we do even as business communications technologies grew into multimedia applications over any device. We continue to set new benchmarks in developing and delivering the communications experience that engages the world’s businesses.”
Gary E. Barnett, SVP and GM, Avaya Engagement Solutions

Aspect Software Files Bankruptcy to Cut Debt Load

Debt

March 10, 2016 | CFO.com | US – Matthew Heller

The call-center software company plans to execute a restructuring that would eliminate $320 million in debt and equitize another $60 million.

Aspect Software, a provider of software systems and equipment for call centers, has filed bankruptcy so it can reduce a $795 million debt burden that has limited its ability to invest in next-generation products and services.

In a Chapter 11 petition filed Wednesday, Aspect said a capital restructuring plan backed by its creditors would eliminate $320 million of second-lien debt and convert $60 million of first-lien debt into 100% of the reorganized company’s equity.

“By resetting our capital structure and dramatically improving our balance sheet, we will be well-positioned to compete over the long-term while continuing to accelerate investments in our

Over the past three years, Aspect has invested $160 million in acquisitions, technology agreements and partnerships. It serves 2,200 call centers in more than 70 countries, generating annual sales of more than $400 million.

But in a bankruptcy court declaration, Bloom said staying on the “cutting edge of software solutions has been especially challenging given Aspect’s highly-leveraged capital structure,” which includes annual cash interest payments of approximately $34 million on about $475 million of first lien secured debt and about $320 million of second lien secured debt.

The chief executive noted that, as with other call-center software companies, Aspect has been shifting to cloud-based solutions, but has incurred downward revenue pressure in part because of the high costs of adapting to another technology platform.

Cloud revenue is also recognized over the period of the subscription contract, resulting in a deferred revenue backlog of more than $100 million, Bloom said.

The planned restructuring will bring Aspect out of Chapter 11 under the control of its lenders. Aspect said it expected the reorganization to be completed within 105 days.

“Communication Manager” provides UC foundation

The Avaya Aura Communication Manager is a core component of the Avaya UC platform and the foundation for delivering real-time voice, video, messaging, mobility and other UC services.Old Phone 2

The Communication Manager registers and maintains all Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) endpoints, call routing, call queuing, prioritization of voice and video calls and much more. The product also has built-in conferencing and contact center applications — suitable for companies with call centers and demanding conferencing needs.

The Communication Manager offers more than 700 features that are available to all users, no matter where they are working from, including office users and remote users working from home or on the road.

With this product, SIP and H.323 are fully supported, along with other industry-standard protocols. Connection with PSTN and ISDN services is possible using Avaya’s media gateways, such as the Avaya G250. These media gateways work pretty much the same way as most vendors’, connecting to the Aura Communication Manager and providing inbound and outbound call routing to PSTN and ISDN services.

Critical environments can also have a second Communication Manager installed, providing high-availability and uninterruptible service in case the primary server is down. Extending this redundancy model further, in the event that both servers are down, users will automatically register to the media gateway — if available — and have access to basic telephony services until the servers are restored.

The Communication Manager is offered as a standalone hardware application server or a virtualized application. It runs on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system, offering increased reliability, speed and smaller hardware requirements, as opposed to other non-Linux-based systems.

The Communication Manager can support up to 36,000 endpoints and 24,000 SIP trunks, making it a scalable solution for small to larger enterprises.

Voice systems and telepresence are hurting, but vendors see growth in other areas

January 11, 2016 | By Chris Talbot

Voice and telepresence are both suffering as vendor revenue in those areas continues to decline, but other enterprise infrastructure areas are growing. New research from Synergy Research Group shows that wireless LAN infrastructure products are growing the fastest – something that comes as little surprise as more enterprises roll out Wi-Fi deployments with the latest 802.11 technologies.

The Synergy report shows that revenue for WLAN products grew by about five percent in the last four quarters, whereas Ethernet switches grew at four percent, data center servers were a little above two percent, unified communications applications grew about four percent, routers were barely above zero percent, voice was down two percent and telepresence was down almost five percent.

It’s good news and bad news for the vendors involved. Cisco leads six out of the seven market categories. The exception is data center servers, where Hewlett Packard Enterprise reigns. HPE came in second in the Ethernet switches, routers and WLAN categories (the last is thanks to its 2015 acquisition of Aruba Networks).

“Cisco remains in a league of its own, accounting for a third of the market and gaining market share in the only segment where it is not the current leader,” said Jeremy Duke, founder and chief analyst at Synergy Research Group, in a statement. “Across these hardware-oriented product areas HPE is the only broad-based challenger to Cisco’s dominance and it has been steadily increasing its share of the market. However, what we are now seeing is the strong growth of cloud, hosted and collaborative software solutions, which is introducing competition from non-traditional areas and causing market boundaries to blur.”

The other number two vendors include – Dell in data center servers, Avaya in voice systems, Microsoft in UC applications and Polycom in telepresence.

But there are some up-and-comers gaining market share in each category, including Microsoft in UC apps and voice systems, Arista Networks in Ethernet switching, Mitel in voice systems, HPE in WLAN, Huawei in telepresence, Lenovo in data center servers and Cisco in data center servers.

Whether this could mean significant changes in market share and dominant vendors in the seven categories over the next several years is anybody’s guess. It seems unlikely there will be a repeat of the huge shake-up in networking that happened in the late 1990s, but transitions could happen.

“Services” Project Management.

Can you take any project manager and plop them onto any program and have it succeed?   Can a project manager who is an expert at deploying Avaya IP Office deploy Microsoft Lync?   Can a project manager who deploys ATT cell towers lead a Manage Service outsource project?   In other words, is Project Management “one size fits all”?

At First American Business Solutions we specialize in delivering world class services.   We perform deployments, upgrades, surveys and day- to-day maintenance support.   All of which take project management skills.

We believe “Services” project management is different from “Product” project management and we have a specialized discipline around it.  Our methodology, developed around a services only business, is designed for delivering network solutions that add business value to our customers.  Services Program Management is the framework by which all our programs are planned, estimated, controlled, and tracked in a consistent manner.  The program is based on the successful integration of people, process and systems.

Product focused methodologies (used by manufactures of equipment for example) is focused on the order, management and installation of hardware (servers, switches, etc.) whereas the Services Program Methodology is focused on the solution delivery.

Professional Services is a people and relationship type of business.  In a product based business it is possible for the client to buy your product if they believe it is the best product on the market regardless of the support people associated with the delivery because the physical product quality is the driver of the purchase.   In the services world of companies like First ABS it is not possible to separate the product from the delivery because the “people” are the product.  Therefore, not only do we have to have the best product (i.e. people to deliver that solution) but we must develop a relationship with that client before we can earn their trust to purchase services from us.  We must understand the client’s business drivers and benefit triggers and develop a partnership type of relationship where we are perceived as part of their team.

Case in point:   Recently a potential customer we had never done business with before contacted us about purchasing a block of hours for Tier 3 emergency technical support.   We provided a bid with a reasonable price for 200 hours for 7×24 support.   About a week later, that customer called with an emergency about a key site that had a switch outage.  Without a PO and without any commitment we immediately assigned the outage to an engineer who resolved the issue remotely within an hour!  To say the customer was pleased was an understatement.   As a result of that effort and the trust that was built, we received a PO for the full order within two weeks and we believe this is a start to a long lasting customer relationship.   This is an example of the “art” of project management.

Conclusion:  Services project management recognizes that there is both an art and a science to Project Management.  The Science is the traditional “Initiate, Plan, Deploy and Close” tactical part of project management.  The Art is the “people” part of project management.  The Art focuses on the client:  understanding their business, their revenue drivers, and how our solution will help them to be more successful.   Being flexible to the client’s always changing needs and leveraging knowledge from prior programs is key to the success of First ABS’ project management.  With our approach we strive to understand the customers’ business drivers from a strategic perspective, cultivate that relationship and then drive it down to the individual project for that client.

Lync is now Skype for Business

Old Phone 1If you already use Skype to communicate with friends and family at home, you’ll appreciate the power and familiarity of Skype for Business where it’s easy to find and connect with co-workers. And you can use the devices you already have (iPhone, etc.) to reach business contacts through an “enterprise grade”, secure, IT-managed platform. If you’re already using Lync at your office, you’ll recognize all of the features you already use but in a new interface with simplified controls and some good new additions:

Call from Skype for Business using your desk phone for audio

If you have a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) desk phone and your IT department has configured it to work with Skype for Business you can search for people in your organization and place calls to them within the Skype for Business user interface, while audio for the call flows through your standard desk (PBX) phone. You can also place calls from the Skype for Business client using any phone near you (like your mobile, home, or hotel phone). The person you’re calling sees your phone number as though you were calling from your company’s main phone number.

When you make a Skype for Business call with audio routed through your desk phone, you also get:

  • IM—so you can do a quick copy/paste of a URL you want to share (as an example)
  • Desktop and app sharing—so you can easily show and tell, work through problems, or explain stuff with pictures
  • Attachments—send files to the other person without leaving Skype for Business

Rate My Call

Kind of a cool feature called “Rate My Call” lets Skype for Business Server administrators collect call data, access standard reports, and export raw data for further analysis. Users are prompted to take a survey after completing a call.
image11306094838
First there was Skype, a popular app for instant messaging, video chat, and voice calls. Then Microsoft bought the company in 2011, continuing to offer it as a consumer product along with Lync as a business application. But last year Microsoft announced it would drop Lync in favor of Skype for Business, which would combine features of both Lync and Skype.

Today, some people are confused with what is actually available and how it works. There are two Skype services (free and paid and online or on-premises versions). There are two client types available as well.

Cores:

Skype for Business Server 2015: This on-premises server provides IM, presence, peer-to-peer VoIP and video, conferencing, enterprise voice, and telephone-system (PSTN) connectivity.

Skype for Business Online: This service is on line and bundled within Microsoft Cloud or Office 365.  It provides IM, presence, peer-to-peer VoIP and video, and conferencing. It does not provide enterprise voice or PSTN connectivity, but these features are in development.

Clients:

Skype for Business: This client replaces the Lync client as part of the Office suite. It works with either version of Skype and on almost all iOS and Android phones.

Skype: This client is available for consumer download, providing free service for personal use. Its features are similar to those of Skype for Business but usually are more limited in scope.

Pretty cool stuff…  Microsoft seems to finally be consolidating their story and solution to Enterprise voice and communication.  As a result you will likely see more selling to the corporate IT team in your company with Microsoft pointing out these selling points:

  • Online meetings, messaging, calls, video, and sharing with up to 250 people.
  • Find anyone in your company and schedule meetings in Outlook.
  • Enterprise-grade security and management of employee accounts.
  • As low as$2.00 user/month

Despite Improving Economic Conditions Enterprise PBX Market Continues Slide

Campbell, CA (March 10, 2015)—Technology market research firm Infonetics Research, now part of IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), today reported that the global enterprise telephony and unified communications (UC) market closed down 4 percent in 2014, to $8.7 billion, as businesses continue to hold off new purchases and upgrades of PBX equipment despite improving worldwide economic conditions.

Infonetics chart
The overall market decline masks the health of the evolving UC applications segment, which jumped 20 percent in 2014, energized by the demand for tools to increase workforce productivity.

The data comes from Infonetics’ fourth quarter 2014 (4Q14) and year-end Enterprise Unified Communications Voice Equipment market share, size and forecast report, which tracks PBX phone systems, voice over IP gateways, UC applications and IP phones.

“The enterprise telephony market continues to be tough. Just as we see one area begin to improve, it’s offset by slowdowns in geographies or market segments. Underscoring the declines are not only slowing businesses purchases but also competitive pricing, which has created unpredictable swings,” said Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC, and IMS at Infonetics Research, now part of IHS. “The move to the cloud is having an impact in certain markets, particularly North America.”

MORE ENTERPRISE TELEPHONY MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

  • Globally, PBX revenue, including TDM (time-division multiplexing) and IP PBXs, dropped 6 percent in 2014 from 2013, and dipped 1 percent in 4Q14 from 4Q13
  • PBX line shipments declined 3 percent in 2014 from 2013; In 4Q14, line shipments were up 4 percent year-over-year, driven by pure IP PBX
  • Vendors remain in a battle to gain customers and hold onto existing ones as enterprises migrate to IP and UC solutions: In 2014, the top four PBX revenue market share leaders were, in alphabetical order, Avaya, Cisco, Miteland NEC

Microsoft continues to see strong sales on the UC front, solidifying its position atop the unified communications market share leaderboard

Enterprise Telephony Market To Shrink 20 Percent; Cisco, Avaya Will Grow

By Mark Haranas on July 31, 2015

The enterprise telephony market will shrink about 20 percent within the next few years as enterprises move their IT dollars away from premise solutions toward the cloud, although vendors like Cisco and Avaya continue to see growth through on-premise solutions.

The market is expected to decline from an estimated $10 billion in 2015 to $8 billion by 2019, with its peak hitting $16 billion in 2007, according to Dell’Oro analyst Alan Weckel.

“Having premise equipment is less and less important. Those functions are just going to be integrated into other equipment or come from the cloud,” said Weckel in an interview with CRN. “Although on the enterprise side as you get to scale, the ability of having thousands of connections to the cloud for voice really doesn’t make sense. So the enterprise market will have a different transition.”

Dell’Oro is still predicting IP phone growth over the next five years from both PBX vendors like Cisco, Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, as well as from third parties, such as Polycom and Grandstream.

Weckel said enterprises will pick some cloud pieces to use, but, ultimately, the call control will stay premise-based, because for companies with thousands of employees having everything from the cloud “just doesn’t make sense.”

“Cloud makes sense for a lot of SMBs, and the large middle-size companies, but when it gets to thousands of employees, it makes sense to have premise-based solutions,” said Weckel.

“The large vendors, a lot of them are growing through acquisitions and consolidation … If you look at Cisco, they were looking at selling to cloud providers to grow. So using Cisco equipment for the cloud offering, that will be a strategy vendors will use to expand the market — so not selling to the premise but selling to the cloud,” he said.

Analysts said enterprise vendors must create more unique cloud offerings in the telephony market by both selling equipment to support cloud build-outs and by creating stand-alone cloud offerings.

“If you’re a vendor and you don’t have a cloud strategy today, it will be too late,” said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at Westminster, Mass.-based ZK Research. “Now it comes down to how aggressively a vendor would be willing to cannibalize its premises-based business in favor of the cloud, how they compensate the channel and how they transition partners.”

“If channel partners do not have a plan in place today for cloud, they will be obsolete in five years,” he said.

Kerravala said ShoreTel has its own cloud offering and cloud partner program that allow the channel to sell its suite of cloud-based VoIP services, while Avaya is enabling its cloud partners to build a cloud rather than offer one directly.

“What’s important is that the vendor plays in the cloud-collaboration market regardless of whether they choose to build, enable others to build, or both,” said Kerravala.

Jamie Wood, executive vice president at Avatel, a Brandon, Fla.-based Avaya partner, said Avaya is ahead of the game with the Avaya Collaborative Cloud open platform solution for partners and customers.

“They provide the options to build, deliver, use, or enhance an organization’s cloud communication services and applications,” said Wood. “[The platform] was designed to support the transition and lives seamlessly alongside the on-premise solutions that organizations retain.”

Wood said the move to cloud communications will be a gradual evolution, and opportunities for solution providers are biggest in the midmarket.

Analysts said solution providers need to expand their level of expertise in cloud or face extinction.

Russ Zielezinski, chief operating officer at Advanced Telecommunications, a ShoreTel and Mitel partner based in Naperville, Ill., said 2015 has been the biggest market shift to the cloud ever.

“It’s been a challenge for us, who were founded as premise-based providers … It has impacted the premise market, and I can say we’ve seen it affect our numbers too,” said Zielezinski. “But for survival, you need to adopt a new cloud-recurring revenue model.”

Zielezinski said solution providers need to become cloud-focused and have the proper amount of technical staff on board to support all the different applications.

Organizations are selecting cloud over premise because companies are more comfortable with using OpEx dollars compared to spending a large sum of money up front for the equipment, according to Weckel.

“So the cloud allows them to pay on a monthly basis, which is just easier from a consumption point of view,” said Weckel.

In addition, cloud solutions are easier for SMBs because they don’t have to overprovision their systems, and it is also typically easier to manage.

“There’s a lot of opportunities there if the VARs and channel expand into adjacent areas around cloud,” said Weckel.

“It’s more than just voice. [Customers] are probably thinking about updating their entire networking, maybe going with a cloud-managed solution there like a Meraki solution for wireless and switching. Maybe they’re thinking about some cloud computing whether it’s Amazon or Rackspace — there’s a lot of opportunity to rewrite applications, write new applications and sort of become the trusted consultant to the customer.”