Once considered uninvited guests, smartphones and tablets like the iPad are rapidly winning over small businesses with their productivity enhancing benefits, says Mark Massingham, director of SME product and solutions marketing for Avaya. "Businesses now recognize the value that these devices can bring," he says.
With IP Office 8.1, the company aims to add even more value by bringing enterprise-grade unified communications to iPads and Windows laptops. Avaya Flare Communicator, once offered only to large enterprise customers, is now available to SMBs and joins the one-X Mobile Preferred app for iPhone and Android as part of the small business unified communications toolkit.
The app mirrors much of the functionality found in Avaya's advanced IP phones, including directory search, presence and management over two simultaneous calls. On the iPad, Avaya Flare uses the devices touch capabilities to wrangle contacts into a "spotlight" -- a launch pad of sorts that lets you initiate voice calls, send emails or instant messages.
That's not the only up-market feature in the latest release. IP Office now scales to 1,000 users in a single location, up from 384 users previously. Thanks to a new Linux-based architecture, the upgraded user limit gives fast-growing SMBs a measure of future-proofing when it comes to their telecommunications systems, says Mark Massingham.
Calling up BYOD Security
Despite the fervor surrounding BYOD, littering a small business network with smartphones and tablets can prove disastrous if data security isn't made a top priority. Avaya has taken steps to lock down its platform.
IP Office 8.1 integrates with the company's recently introduced ERS 3500 switches. In addition to offering near plug-and-play network configuration, the device's "identity based engine" has the "ability to create admission levels automatically," setting secure, per-user permissions for mobile devices.
Set to launch during the third quarter, Avaya is preparing an SMB version of Avaya Session Border Controller. The included SIP-based firewall helps make IP Office more resistant to toll fraud and denial of service attacks. It also provides encryption between mobile clients and the IP Office platform for snoop-proof unified communications without setting up a virtual private network.
Also new in IP Office 8.1 are features to simplify management and to help SMBs keep their phone and messaging platforms up and running. Now, multi-site customers can manage several deployments from one location due to new a centralized management feature and a retooled licensing structure. The new Avaya IP Office Support Service delivers upgrades, patches and remote access for support professionals via SSL-VPN.
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