Avaya announces SIP-enabled handsets

Network infrastructure provider is transitioning products from IP to standard SIP-based products

The IP wars continue this week with Avaya, now a privately held rather than public company, announcing Avaya Communications Manager 5.0 and new customer service solutions, including a SIP-enabled handset for CSRs (customer service representatives). Communication Manager 5.0 is a full, rather than a point, upgrade to Avaya's main telephony and communications platform. The new version takes the technology from IP to SIP and adds a number of new capabilities.

"We are taking this version from the service provider trunk all the way to the desktop with a purpose-built SIP contact center phone," said Colleen Aguirre, director, product management for Customer Service applications.

The SIP-enabled phone, Avaya Agent Deskphone 16CC, has a list price of $355.

The transition of contact centers to IP-enabled centers has been ongoing, said Aguirre. "It flattens out networks and allows for consolidation of servers."

The next step from IP to SIP protocol will add additional such capabilities as presence detection while giving contact center managers increased flexibility. For example, version 5.0 of Communication Manager will allow agents to transfer customer data along with a call. The 5.0 upgrade also automates and equalizes the distribution of calls to CSRs and allows agents and managers to evaluate agent availability. "We translated all of that information into the SIP protocol," Aguirre said.

While Cisco does not have a SIP-handset and its software still requires middleware translation software, an all-SIP-based solution does not require middleware.

Jay Lassman, research director for Communications Applications at Gartner said, Avaya is positioning itself for compatibility with unified communications solutions. "They seem to be on a very aggressive path toward positioning their users for future SIP interoperability," said Lassman.

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