Skype and Avaya finally admit they’re siblings

Well it sure took a while, but Skype and Avaya  finally play nice as siblings of the Silver Lake Partners family.

This is awesome and should’ve happened a long time ago. Both Skype and Avaya have gone through some tough times with mergers and spin-offs. I’m glad now they’re joining hands as brothers.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Skype. With this partnership Skype will gain better footing in the enterprise UC market and Avaya gets to tap into the enormous global user base.

Press release here:

BASKING RIDGE, NJ and LUXEMBOURG, 29 September 2010 – Avaya, a global leader in enterprise communications systems, software and services, and Skype today announced a strategic agreement to deliver innovative, real-time communications and collaboration solutions to businesses of all sizes. The multi-phase deal includes both go-to-market and an industry-first, joint technology integration that seeks to enable businesses to lower costs and expand how employees, customers, partners and suppliers communicate and collaborate with greater convenience and efficiency.

In the first phase of the agreement, Avaya customers in the U.S. market will have access to Skype Connect™, a product which adds Skype calling to IP-based enterprise communications systems, providing a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) communications channel between Avaya communications systems and Skype. Customers with Avaya Aura™ Session Manager or Avaya Aura SIP Enablement Server, CS1000, Avaya IP Office, or BCM systems can use Skype Connect to place calls globally for increased reach, while aiming to save on international calling. Enterprise-level security and features such as tracking, recording, regulatory compliance, and more are provided by the Avaya system.

Skype reported 124 million average monthly connected users during the second quarter of 2010. Now, Skype users can make inbound calls to Avaya customers in the U.S. market for free or at a low cost. Calls will be treated with Avaya’s routing, conferencing, messaging, mobility and contact center capabilities, as well as other collaboration services. For example, businesses can:

  • Establish Skype Click & Call buttons for inbound calling from Web sites
  • Establish Skype Online Numbers for inbound calling from landline and mobile phones
  • Route inbound calls from a Skype user to an enterprise extension

Avaya customers in the U.S. market who are interested in Skype Connect can speak with their Avaya sales representative or an Avaya Connect channel partner contacts beginning in October.

In the second half of 2011, Avaya and Skype plan to deliver integrated unified communications and collaboration solutions for enterprises within the U.S. The integration is intended to establish federation between Avaya Aura and Skype communications platforms and both user communities, so that an Avaya end-user and Skype user can engage and interact via presence, instant messaging, voice and video. A business, for example, could use Skype to access an Avaya-based contact center in a simple and highly integrated way to quickly and efficiently resolve customer service issues. The integrated solutions will also allow enterprise IT managers to manage and control the inter-connectivity between end users to meet their corporate IT policies.

“Avaya and Skype have been working along parallel paths to offer, innovative, scalable, low cost, SIP-based communications to our respective markets,” said Alan Baratz, senior vice president, Avaya and president, Avaya Global Communications Solutions. “Now, the two companies will work together, striving to improve collaboration and customer service by federating Avaya and Skype solutions for a common user experience that delivers unique benefits for businesses and their customers who are Skype users.”

“Our relationship with Avaya is expected to expand the footprint for Skype Connect into more enterprises in the U.S. market, while allowing us to help Avaya’s customers benefit from Skype’s cost savings and access to Skype’s global user base,” said David Gurlé, vice president and general manager of Skype for Business. “We believe our integrated solution in the second half of 2011 is expected to offer the benefits of Skype to a growing number of businesses and open up new ways for people to communicate and collaborate.”

About Avaya

Avaya is a global leader in enterprise communications systems. The company provides unified communications, contact centers, data solutions, and related services directly and through its channel partners to leading businesses and organizations around the world. Enterprises of all sizes depend on Avaya for state-of-the-art communications that improve efficiency, collaboration, customer service and competitiveness. For more information please visit

About Skype

Skype is a software-based communications platform that offers high-quality, easy-to-use tools for both consumers and businesses to communicate and collaborate globally through voice, video and text conversations. Founded in 2003 and based in Luxembourg, our mission is to be the communications platform of choice around the world. We enable users with virtually any Internet-connected device to communicate with each other by voice, video and instant message for free, or make low cost voice calls to fixed or mobile numbers virtually anywhere in the world. We had 124 million average monthly connected users for the three months ended June 30, 2010 and our users placed 95 billion calling minutes over Skype in the first half of 2010, approximately 40% of which were video. Skype can be downloaded onto computers, mobile phones and other connected devices for free at

Access to a broadband Internet connection is required. Skype is not a replacement for traditional telephone service and cannot be used for emergency calling. Skype Connect is meant to complement existing traditional telephone services used with a corporate PBX, not as a stand-alone solution. Skype Connect users need to ensure all calls to emergency services are terminated through traditional telephone services.

Skype, associated trademarks and logos and the “S” symbol are trademarks of Skype Limited.

Certain statements contained in this press release are forward-looking statements. These statements may be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “should” or “will” or other similar terminology. We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections. While we believe these expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections are reasonable, such forward looking statements are only predictions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control. These and other important factors may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Some of the key factors that could cause actual results to differ from our expectations include: our ability to develop and sell advanced communications products and services, including unified communications, contact center and data solutions; our ability to develop our indirect sales channel; economic conditions and the willingness of enterprises to make capital investments; the market for advanced communications products and services, including unified communications solutions; our ability to remain competitive in the markets we serve; our ability to manage our supply chain and logistics functions; the ability to protect our intellectual property and avoid claims of infringement; our ability to effectively integrate acquired businesses into ours; our ability to maintain adequate security over our information systems; environmental, health and safety laws, regulations, costs and other liabilities; the ability to retain and attract key employees; risks relating to the transaction of business internationally; pension and post-retirement healthcare and life insurance liabilities; and liquidity and our access to capital markets. We caution you that the foregoing list of important factors may not contain all of the material factors that are important to you. For a further list and description of such risks and uncertainties, please refer to Avaya’s filings with the SEC that are available Avaya disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


Codec2, the open source low bit rate speech codec

The world can never get enough of open source goodies, especially in the realm of benefiting the communications community. Most of us enjoy reasonably good to really exceptional audio over IP with common programs like Skype and Google Voice, not to mention high quality (and expensive) gears from the likes of Avaya and Cisco. Obviously, the higher the voice quality, the more bandwidth it requires. That’s why there are companies whose bread and butter are compression algorithms and patented codecs.

Well, good for them. But a lot of the world still operate in low bandwidth, dial-up speeds. Fancy HD audio codecs wouldn’t stand a chance in many third world or developing economies. Cost effective communications technology is something that builds communities, spurs innovation, and stimulates economies. There is definitely a need for royalty free, open source, implementation friendly audio codecs.

Enter Codec2, first concocted by David Rowe, an engineer with a Ph.D. from south Australia.

Rowe is an embodiment of the open source movement. In his own words from his blog:

I’m David Rowe, an electronic engineer living in Adelaide, South Australia. My mission is to improve the world – just a little bit. I do this through releasing Free (as in speech) hardware designs and writing open source software for telephony. My passion is low cost telephony for people in the developing world. A telephone call should be a human right, not a privilege.

In January 2006 I quit corporate life as an Engineering Manager to become an open source developer. I now develop open telephony hardware and software full time. I like to build advanced telephony technology – then give it away.

Amazing. The world needs more generous developers like him!

More importantly, his work has gotten the attention of other developers and Ham radio enthusiasts. For example, popular open source soft switch FreeSWTICH recently included Codec2 support.

Currently in V0.1 alpha release, Codec2 is a fully functional 2550 bit/s codec. Check out the audio samples on the project page — not shabby at all for an alpha.

The project is looking for testers in real world implementations as well as developers and sponsors. Please consider helping its efforts.

This week insideCTI: 9/19/10 – 9/25/10

Here’s a roundup of this week’s posts if you were too busy during the week. Remember, you can always follow us via RSS as well as via Facebook (if it can stay up these days!) and Twitter.

Avaya tried to keep the Flare in the headlines with an interview by PCWorld of CEO Kevin Kennedy. Again, the UI experience looks very fluid, but I still cannot see how customers will go for a $2,000 Android-based tablet locked onto Avaya-only products. Not only because there are so many other way cheaper Android tablets out there, but also there are many existing free video conferencing apps with decent quality.

For four lucky startups it’s almost time to put on their game faces for StartupCamp: Comm Edition. The event is co-hosted with ITEXPO West and open to all registered attendees. Mark your calendar for Monday, October 4, and get there early to grab a good seat. Organizers are expecting a very big crowd.

And some good news for Genesys — Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant report has the CTI company as a leader in Web customer service. The bad news? References are still complaining about Genesys’ technical support. Growing pains? Whatever the reason, there’s no excuse and Genesys should make it a #1 priority to resolve the issues, even if they are perceptions.

Have a great fall weekend!

Genesys moves to MQ Leader quadrant in Web customer service

Genesys has come a long way from just a CTI technology provider to a full-blown customer service technology company (as I’ve covered here and here previously). It’s evident that customer service today means more than just inbound voice calls, or the traditional voice self-service channel. Savvy customers today will also use social media, Web chat, or online knowledge base, or any combination of these, to find the answers they need.

That’s why it’s noteworthy that Genesys is now considered by Gartner to be a leader in Web customer service (WCS), according to its latest Magic Quadrant report. Other peers in this quadrant include RightNow and eGain, which makes things a bit more interesting as RightNow is also a Genesys BFF (however, the middle “F” being “frenemy“).

Of course, to me the best part of the report is actually in the “Cautions” section of the company profile:

  • The legacy knowledge management solution from Genesys is not very strong: therefore, the partner has partnered with InQuira to fill this product gap. Genesys does, however, provide Tier 1 support for the InQuira product, and there is no multivendor contract necessary, because you can buy the InQuira solution from Genesys.
  • Genesys does not have a virtual assistant solution, but has partnered with Oddcast. Unfortunately, no references were using the Oddcast virtual assistants on top of the InQuira knowledge base in a Genesys environment, so this combination is still unproved.
  • Multichannel recording and playback functionality has been as strong as some of the other WCS providers, but Genesys concluded an agreement with Zoom International at the end of January 2010 to provide Internet Protocol (IP) recording and quality management functionality, and is busy extending the product capabilities to capture Web activities, with a targeted release later in 2010.
  • Customer references still reported challenges with engaging the correct people for support in the Genesys organization, but Gartner expects that a key initiative on the way in customer management should help service difficulties disappear toward 2011.

I’m surprised that InQuira got mentioned in the report but not Lithium Technologies which has been more publicized in recent news coverages. And it was odd that Oddcast made it into the report when no references were using its product.

Not surprised at the quality management bit since that’s always been a weakness of Genesys. The good news? It’s doing something about it. The bad news? It requires a partner (or maybe this is good news too).

Also not surprised about the technical support frustrations still felt by its customers. This is still a challenge? It was already frustrating dealing with Tech Support when I implemented my first Genesys project more than five years ago. The fact that it’s still being reported — even by Gartner research — is somewhat disappointing. The irony remains that this customer service tech company has customer service problems. This ought to be the top priority for Genesys for the remainder of this year simply because it’s gone on for far too long.

Here’s the press release:

Paris, September 22, 2010 Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) today announced that its Genesys customer service solution has been placed in the leaders quadrant of the recently published Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Web Customer Service,”¹ authored by Johan Jacobs. The report evaluates the maturing market for Web-based customer service offering which includes serving multichannel customer service strategies.

Customers increasingly rely upon the Web, mobile and growing social media channels. The Genesys eServices suite offers an expanded solution for customer service and sales. These products, built upon the Genesys G8 platform, enable cross channel conversations and deliver a consistent experience as customers transition across voice and non-voice channels.

“Businesses today are aware that engaging with customers across multiple channels is key to growth and exceeding expectations. The Genesys solution embraces and integrates the variety of ways customers communicate, delivering the ability for enterprises to drive cross-channel conversations with their customers,” said Nicolas de Kouchkovsky, Chief Marketing Officer, Enterprise Applications for Alcatel-Lucent.

According to the Gartner report, “leaders demonstrate market-defining vision and the ability to execute against that vision through products, services, demonstrable sales figures, and solid new references for multiple geographies and vertical industries. Clients report that the vendors deliver a high level of value and return on their commitment. The development team has a clear vision of the implications of business rules, and the impact of WCS on customer service requirements. A characteristic of a leader is that clients look to the vendor for clues as to how to innovate in customer service. The vendor does not necessarily drive a customer toward vendor lock-in, but rather provides openness to an ecosystem. When asked, their clients reply that this product has affected the organization’s competitive position in their markets and helped lower costs. Leaders provide functionally diverse and rich WCS suites that can be deployed and supported globally, and have at least five of the seven WCS framework components supported as an OEM solution.”

Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Web Customer Service” report is available compliments of Genesys at the following link:

More information about Alcatel-Lucent Genesys eServices solution is available online.

1Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Web Customer Service” by J. Jacobs. September 10, 2010.

About the Magic Quadrant
The Magic Quadrant is copyrighted September 10, 2010 by Gartner, Inc. and is reused with permission. The Magic Quadrant is a graphical representation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner’s analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace, as defined by Gartner. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in the Magic Quadrant, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors placed in the “Leaders” quadrant. The Magic Quadrant is intended solely as a research tool, and is not meant to be a specific guide to action. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

About Alcatel-Lucent Genesys
Genesys software solutions from Alcatel-Lucent manage customer interactions over phone, Web and mobile devices. The Genesys software suite handles customer conversations across multiple channels and resources – self-service, assisted-service and proactive outreach – fulfilling customer requests and optimizing customer care goals while efficiently using resources. Genesys software directs more than 100 million customer interactions every day for 4,000 companies and government agencies in 80 countries. These companies and agencies leverage their entire organization, from the contact center to the back office, while dynamically engaging their customers. For more information, go to

About Alcatel-Lucent
Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) is the trusted transformation partner of service providers, enterprises, strategic industries such as defense, energy, healthcare, transportation, and governments worldwide, providing solutions to deliver voice, data and video communication services to end-users. A leader in fixed, mobile and converged broadband networking, IP and optics technologies, applications and services, Alcatel-Lucent leverages the unrivalled technical and scientific expertise of Bell Labs, one of the largest innovation powerhouses in the communications industry. With operations in more than 130 countries and the most experienced global services organization in the industry, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with a global reach. Alcatel-Lucent achieved revenues of Euro 15.2 billion in 2009 and is incorporated in France, with executive offices located in Paris. For more information, visit Alcatel-Lucent on the Internet:, read the latest posts on the Alcatel-Lucent blog and follow us on Twitter:

Alcatel-Lucent Press Contacts

Peter Benedict Tel: + 33 (0)1 40 76 50 84
Tracy Dupree Tel: + 1 818 878 4906

Alcatel-Lucent Investor Relations

Frank Maccary Tel: + 33 (0)1 40 76 12 11
Don Sweeney Tel: + 1 908 582 6153
Tom Bevilacqua Tel: + 1908-582-7998

StartupCamp Comm Edition: The chosen four

StartupCamp Comm Edition, in partnership with TMC’s ITEXPO West, will feature four early stage startups among  30 applicants to make their pitch. The event is held on Monday, October 4, in Los Angeles, and any registered ITEXPO attendee can join the fun!

The lucky four are:

  • VAL9000 is a cloud-based system that lets physicians and nurses access clinical information systems using natural-language spoken conversations to help practitioners get things done instantly.
  • AdelaVoice <> blends voice with state-of-the-art recognition technologies to create an innovative and interactive relationship between consumers and their smart devices.
  • Vokle <> provides a virtual townhall platform that enables anyone to broadcast live to a virtual auditorium, assign remote co-hosts on the fly, and take live video and text questions from the audience.
  • GroupMe <>, founded just this Spring, enables you to instantly organize and communicate with the groups of people in your life that are important to you, by SMS and voice.

Here’s the press release:

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Four early-stage companies have been chosen for highly sought after presentation slots at the upcoming West Coast edition of “StartupCamp: Comm Edition,” to be held in conjunction with TMC’s ITEXPO West 2010 Conference Oct. 4 – 6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

“For the first time, we had several European applicants.”

Slated for the evening of Monday, Oct. 4, StartupCamp is a fast-paced, “ready, set, pitch” event that gives early-stage entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their communications innovations to an audience of industry leaders, media and investors.

StartupCamp Communications is a joint production of Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC®), a leading global media company based in Norwalk, Conn., and Embrase Business Consulting of Montreal.

The companies chosen range widely in their offerings, evidence of how communications is changing:

  • VAL9000 is a cloud-based system that lets physicians and nurses access clinical information systems using natural-language spoken conversations to help practitioners get things done instantly.
  • AdelaVoice <> blends voice with state-of-the-art recognition technologies to create an innovative and interactive relationship between consumers and their smart devices.
  • Vokle <> provides a virtual townhall platform that enables anyone to broadcast live to a virtual auditorium, assign remote co-hosts on the fly, and take live video and text questions from the audience.
  • GroupMe <>, founded just this Spring, enables you to instantly organize and communicate with the groups of people in your life that are important to you, by SMS and voice.

StartupCamp co-founder Larry Lisser said the sheer number of applications to present at the Los Angeles event and the fact that they represent such a wide range of telecom-powered offering is “huge,” and surely points to continued vitality and innovation in the industry.

“Companies that power their applications with the tools of telecom are sprouting everywhere, and not just in the United States,” he said. “For the first time, we had several European applicants.”

Lisser said that given the outpouring of interest in presenting at StartupCamp, the event organizers are trying to accommodate one more company to the slate of presenters. That decision will come by week’s end.

Keynote speaker at StartupCamp will be Xobni CEO Jeff Bonforte, who has been actively involved in the future of communications for years, dating back to his involvement in what became the Gizmo Project, and to his executive roles with Yahoo!’s Real-time Communications Group.

Twilio, a leader in the fast-growing field of cloud communications, is back as platinum sponsor of StartupCamp; Alcatel-Lucent and Skype also are sponsoring the event, which debuted at ITEXPO in Miami earlier this year.

StartupCamp Communications is free to attend and admission is included with any ITEXPO registration plan. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP to attend StartupCamp.


With extensive expertise and knowledge in emerging communication and telephony markets, Embrase Business Consulting provides positioning, corporate development and go-to-market services to early-stage, technology-based ventures facing challenging time-to-market issues, lengthy customer adoption cycles and demanding investor requirements. Through recognized methodologies, Embrase identifies target market segments, optimizes resource alignment and accelerates revenue growth to increase its clients’ business value and attractiveness to both end-user customers and investors. With its proven international track record, technical expertise and extensive network of contacts, EMBRASE successfully partners with clients from strategy creation to execution.

About TMC

Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is a global, integrated media company helping clients build communities in print, in person and online. TMC publishes Customer Interaction SolutionsINTERNET TELEPHONYUnified Communications, and NGN magazines. TMCnet, TMC’s Web site, is the leading source of news and articles for the communications and technology industries. TMCnet is read by two million unique visitors each month on average worldwide, according to Webtrends. TMCnet has ranked within the top 3,500 in Quantcast’s Top U.S. sites, placing TMCnet in the nation’s top .03% most visited Web sites. In addition, TMC produces ITEXPO4GWE Conference and M2M Evolution (in conjunction with Crossfire Media); Digium|Asterisk World (in conjunction with Digium); and Smart Grid Summit (in conjunction with Intelligent Communication Partners). TMC serves other communications market segments with the Cloud Communications Summit (in conjunction with Light and Electric); CVx ChannelVision Expo (in conjunction with Beka Publishing); and MSPWorld™ (in conjunction with the MSP Alliance).

TMC also serves technology professionals with industry-specific Web sites: InfoTech Spotlight4GWE, M2M Evolution, Smart-Grid.TMCnet.comSmart Products Ecosystem,Robotics.TMCnet.comCable.TMCnet.comSatellite, and


Embrase Business Consulting

Larry Lisser, 415-710-5947

Avaya CEO talks video and Flare

PCWorld has an interview with Kevin Kennedy, CEO of Avaya, about the recent announcement of the Flare Experience and a suite of video products.

As expected, Kennedy mentions the current expensive enterprise video conferencing solutions:

Today, the fact is that people buy isolated high-def video for enterprises and they probably spend $5,000-$6,000 to put that on their desks.


Today, I have a $6,000 device in my office, I have a conference room with a device that’s bigger and even more expensive, and at home I have no video. Would I be inclined to have a device that we shared today with the Flare experience on my desktop, in my conference room, as well as at my home, all for the price of what I have paid just for that one device? You bet I would.

Hmmm, makes the $2,000 “Avaya Desktop Video Device” seem cheap in comparison. Mission accomplished?

If Avaya’s intent is to showcase the UC software on the Android device, then it should’ve demonstrated Flare as an application, possibly available to any Android device, from tablets to smartphones. I’m sure most of today’s Android devices have enough horsepower to enjoy the Flare Experience. Imagine how many more users will try out Flare if it’s not just available on the $2,000 locked-down device. Of course, if it’s offered as an application then the price has to drop, but the trade off is the number of adopters. And I think acquiring more users is more important in today’s UC landscape, considering how many choices there are, especially with heavyweights Microsoft and Cisco aggressively marketing their UC products.

Yes, most enterprise video conferencing solutions would cost $5,000 or more. But the majority of video conference users are quite happy with just Skype or Google Talk at zero dollars.

This week insideCTI: 9/12/10 – 9/18/10

Two major happenings this week with two major companies:

Microsoft finally got rid of the “14” moniker and chose the brand name “Lync,” a marriage of “link” and “sync” to underscore its enterprise communications capabilities. The exact release date? Still TBD. The last half of 2010 proves t0 be eventful for the Redmond Giant with the release of Kinect and Windows 7, and putting on the final touches for Windows Phone 7 (including a mock iPhone funeral), as well as offering the beta of Internet Explorer 9. So I guess I won’t be too surprised if Lync doesn’t come out until early 2011.

Avaya had something up its sleeve and it’s a $2,000 Android tablet, one component of what it brands the Flare Experience. Interestingly, Avaya avoided using “tablet” to describe anything within the realm of Flare. Obviously it wanted to distance itself as an Apple competitor or copycat. No matter, the iPad is still the tablet king, and any device that comes out to market without a keyboard will be compared to the iPad. It happened with the Cisco Cius and it will happen with the Avaya Flare tablet. How these enterprise focused tablets fare in the workplace remains to be seen…

Avaya also made the headlines by being the leader in global PBX market share. It bests Cisco by 3% with help from the $475 Nortel acquisition.

Other than company news, a guest post titled “Four simple rules for new technology evaluation” offered great practical advice on embracing a new technology for the enterprise. What stood out for me was Rule #1 — Buy early in the product life cycle. Most of the time we’re advised to avoid being the guinea pigs and field testers. “Let’s wait until the dot-five release” is something often overheard at management meetings. But from a cost standpoint this makes a lot of sense. The important thing is to keep expectations grounded in reality and perform as much due diligence as possible in finding and dealing with the technology vendor.