First American Business Enterprise

Apple Reinvents Mobile UC

The new iOS 10 will allow VoIP services, including those from the UC vendors, to use the native dialing capabilities of the iPhone, spelling a new day for Mobile UC.

Giving developers access to Siri along with APIs to access key elements of the address book and dialer app will create a great opportunity for UC to finally start working smoothly on iOS devices. Users will be able to place the call themselves by clicking on an address book entry or ask Siri to “Call Jack on Skype” or just “Skype Jack.”

With these new APIs, developers will be able to create apps that will allow users to make and receive VoIP calls directly from the enhanced address book. With the new APIs, users of any VoIP app will be able to place calls directly through the address book rather than with a separate app, putting an end to the “separate app” dilemma that has left mobile UC as little more than a demo capability. Those calls will also be tracked in the phone app’s Recent and Favorites folders.

The process of receiving calls will improve as well. Today when you receive a call in a voice app like Skype or WhatsApp, you get a notification on the lock screen. With the new APIs, calls received in those apps will be able to get an alert like you see in the image to the right with the ability to answer with a swipe. The contact card is also enhanced and will remember which service you prefer to call each contact.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, did make mention of the partnership announced last August between Apple and Cisco, talking about how calls to a Cisco user’s business number could now be handled the same way as calls to that user’s personal cell number. However, as these APIs are apparently open to all developers, it is unclear whether Apple has given Cisco any special advantage over other VoIP apps or any other UC solution, other than possibly a few months head start in development.

Apple will also include voicemail transcription.

As developments in the mobile device market have slowed to a crawl, the battle is clearly shifting to software, which has long been Apple’s forte.

For UC suppliers, opening key APIs in the dial app provides the first real possibility to deliver a mobile UC experience of which users may actually take advantage. With these new APIs, Apple has opened a whole new competition in mobile UC that will at long last give UC vendors the opportunity to integrate meaningful mobile capabilities into their products and develop some real product differentiation.

Session Manager Controls Calls

The Avaya Aura Session Manager is the core of Avaya’s SIP-based architecture, unifying all Avaya UC services. Aura Session Manager integrates with Avaya’s Aura Communication Manager, media gateways, messaging services, session border controller, conferencing, contact center and more, creating a centralized infrastructure that helps lower the total cost of ownership and administration costs.

Avaya’s Aura Session Manager has the unique ability to allow enterprise-wide dial plans across multiple vendor PBX environments. It can create system wide network routing rules to route calls in a cost-efficient manner using least-cost routing methods, alternative routing, time-of-day routing, toll avoidance and more.

Session Manager is truly an enterprise product, as it can support up to 250,000 SIP users, 350,000 SIP devices, 300,000 dial patterns, 1,000 SIP domains and many more. It supports connectivity to Cisco, Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent and other third-party PBXs, making it flexible and easy to integrate with existing infrastructure.

With a tolerance of up to 1,000-millisecond (ms) round-trip delay — from the source to the destination and back — it is suitable for almost any network environment, even satellite connections, which typically fluctuate between 600 to 900 ms round-trip delay.

Enterprise PBX Market Continues Slide Despite Improving Economic Conditions

Campbell, CALIFORNIA —Technology market research firm Infonetics Research, now part of IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), reported in 2015 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.  The trend appears to continue thru all of 2015 as well.

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

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.