The UCStrategies Experts share their expertise in bylined articles, opinion pieces, blogs, and podcasts, to define unified communications, educate you about unified communications technologies, and help you make informed decisions about unified communications solutions.
UCStrategies.com defines unified communications as “Communications integrated to optimize business processes.” The definition of unified communications narrows significantly when you can read and hear about real-world examples that other companies are implementing right now—and apply them to your situation.
This section offers learning tools to help you plan your unified communications implementation.
This section provides a practical, vendor-independent service to any Enterprise that is seeking the benefits of Unified Communications. How do you pull everything together to implement unified communications? Use the tools in this sequence to define unified communications for your business.
The Unified Communications industry changes daily. We keep track of it for you.
UCStrategies is an industry resource for unified communications enterprises, communications vendors, system integrators, and anyone interested in the growing unified communications arena.
A supplier of objective information on unified communications, UCStrategies is supported by an alliance of leading communication industry advisors, analysts, and consultants who have worked in the various segments of unified communications since its inception.
Avaya has just announced Avaya Aura Conferencing 7.0 with Avaya Flare Experience (AAC7), the latest version of the company’s multi-modal conferencing solution. This new product boasts three key differentiators. First among them is the implementation of a distributed architecture of cascading media servers. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) follow similar deployment strategy, since a highly distributed network becomes the most effective architecture for latency-sensitive, bandwidth-intensive applications like video and realtime web conferencing solutions. In the Avaya case these locally deployed media servers send one outgoing media stream for all remote users at a media server location. This concept is referred to as cascading and can reduce the number of media streams that need to travel across the WAN. Conservation of this type should reduce pressure on the necessity for a WAN upgrade which will lessen the overall multi-year solution TCO. Moreover, the distributed network configuration also supports high availability with call preservation via the application server (hosts the conference applications and handles SIP signaling from clients) and through media server redundancy.
Bandwidth management is also supported through AAC7’s web-based conference monitor. Here customers are provided with the ability to monitor conferences and sessions yielding realtime visibility into their bandwidth utilization and trends across locations, app servers and media server sessions through system auditing via daily, weekly and monthly usage reports. This capability will also allow administrators to troubleshoot this solution from Avaya Aura, at the bottom layer of UC stack, all the way up to Avaya Aura Conferencing.
Second, AAC7 enables session-based, unified voice and web collaboration from anywhere using desktop Macs or PCs, tablets, and smartphones. And participants are allowed to have full administration of calls and meetings on their portable systems. An audio conference can take place from nearly any endpoint. Web collaboration can be accessed on a wide range of devices using Avaya interfaces:
Avaya Aura Collaboration Agent is included with AAC7. Avaya Flare Experience for Windows and iPad devices can be purchased separately. The Avaya Web Collaboration app can be downloaded at iPhone app store.
Avaya Aura Conferencing, experienced through either the Avaya Flare Experience or the browser-based Avaya Aura Collaboration Agent interface, gives users one-touch control over collaboration:
Third, AAC7 is a very scalable software-based multi-point control solution. While each web session requires an audio session, you can have an audio session without a web session. In a small configuration, you can have a maximum of 500 audio sessions (with no web sessions) or a maximum of 250 web sessions and 250 audio sessions. In a large configuration, you can have a maximum of 10,000 audio sessions (with no web sessions) or a maximum of 7,500 web sessions and 7,500 audio sessions.
AAC7’s system components include:
AAC7 requires an Avaya Aura 6.2 foundation including Session Manager, System Manager and Communication Manager. Alternatively, customers on the current CS1K R7.5 platform can avail themselves of the Avaya CS1K Collaboration Pack to add all the core Avaya Aura 6.2 services that enable Avaya’s new collaboration feature/functionality including: Avaya Flare Experience for iPad and Windows, Avaya Aura Conferencing 7.0, Avaya one-X Mobile for smartphones, etc. Customers on previous CS1K releases would have to upgrade to R7.5 as part of adding the Collaboration Pack.
For customers who have very old heritage-Nortel TDM systems, including Meridian and early CS1Ks, Avaya also has very aggressive evolutionary offers to allow technology refreshes which leverage the value of existing licenses, to move directly to Avaya Aura 6.2 and the new collaboration capabilities just announced.
What this Means to You
To Customers: Avaya’s latest conferencing solution is a fully scalable software-based multi-point control platform optimized for its SIP-based architecture. And it has been designed to support, not only multi-modality, but really a multi-device environment and can be a plus for companies with a highly mobile workforce who have implemented an Avaya Aura 6.2 or CS1K R7.5 session-based architectures. Interoperability also enables AAC7 to be deployed via gateways within multivendor infrastructures – as may be typical of enterprises that have consolidated or expanded over time.
A la cart pricing for the Avaya Aura Conferencing and Flare Experience components of this solution starts at $140/user for a host perpetual license. Avaya is no longer licensing conferencing on a per port basis. They have moved to a user paradigm to enable feature/functionality at that level. Price climbs to $190/user if the end user also wants to add the Flare Experience for Windows and iPad onto their environment.
One thing that Avaya has emphasized here is that customers shouldn’t be thinking only in terms of “the network” or “the application.” Customers need to understand how the two relate to one another, and how their enterprise's collaboration strategy correlates with both. Again, this goes back to the CDN architecture discussed above where we pointed out that a highly distributed network becomes the most effective architecture for latency-sensitive, bandwidth-intensive applications like video and realtime web conferencing solutions. This may not appeal to everybody in an era of datacenter centralization and virtualization, but it’s the right way to go in the circumstances highlighted for on-premises solutions. Of course customers need to do the appropriate business case when considering any new solution. The options here are to consider the risk-adjusted costs and benefits associated in moving to AAC7 or any of the competing alternative on-premises products, as well as give proper consideration to the many cloud-based solution alternatives. AAC7 will, itself, be available in the cloud in CY2013.
The availability of AAC7 does not presage the demise of Avaya Meeting Exchange which has recently been updated to Release 6.2. Avaya is delivering both solutions to the marketplace as complementary solutions differentiated by the level of scale and level of architecture. The hardware-based multipoint control unit (MCU) edition of Meeting Exchange scales up to 24K ports. As such, it remains suitable for the service provider community looking to host very large port-density conferencing solutions.
Today, video isn’t available in AAC7. However, it’s on the roadmap for 4Q12 and will be introduced without breaking with today’s AAC7 user experience or architecture. Avaya’s goal is to bring it all together onto the rest of the Avaya Aura architecture in a way that facilitates seamless communication on whichever device and by whichever modality the end user chooses to facilitate communication and collaboration.
Another gap that needs to be quickly closed is support for Android, Windows Mobile, RIM and Nokia OSs.
To Partners: Avaya Aura Conferencing 7.0 opens new opportunities for partners both immediately and as the Radvision integration roadmap comes to fruition. Furthermore, over the next year Avaya will be bringing AAC7 into its Collaborative Cloud. In fact the Company is already working with a number of partners in the conference service space that are looking to expand to a complete UC stack. A key requirement here is to be able to support the conferencing solution in a virtualized environment and that’s at least 6-8 months away.
Also on UCStrategies.com on this topic:
All Content Copyright © 2013 UCStrategies.com. All rights reserved.
Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
Learn more at What is Unified Communications all about?