Avaya, the enterprise telephony company sloughed off by Lucent six months ago, claims it can provide IP-based phones that are as reliable as traditional phone systems.
The assertion comes from the company’s Singapore-based Asia-Pacific head of data networking products, Martin Wicks, who was in New Zealand late last month.
According to Wicks, the company’s Windows NT-based IP600 communications server “puts IP telephony on a par with traditional telephony solutions”.
The comparative instability of NT-based systems has, until recently, been the major shortcoming of IP PBXs; now, however, interoperability seems to be the main hurdle.
But that one seems to be receding as well: tests at the ComNet 2001 trade show in Washington in January showed limited degrees of interoperability between the voice over IP equipment of several vendors, including Avaya. The verdict of the test organisers — US Computerworld stablemate Network World and testing outfit Miercom — was that interoperability has come a long way in six months.
It’s come so far that Wicks is predicting all telephony solutions sold in the next three to four years will be IP-capable. However, that won’t mean a wholesale switch to VoIP by large organisations, he says.
“You won’t get many large enterprises deploying full IP telephony,” says Wicks. “Avaya needs to persuade customers the technology is robust enough to change the way they do things.”
In the New Zealand market, that job has fallen until now to distributor Agile, part of Comworth Systems. But Avaya is putting down roots of its own, appointing former Agile business development manager Dean Hodgson its New Zealand manager. Wicks says that doesn’t signal the appointment of further distributors. Avaya hasn’t done a year’s worth of business yet but claims revenue of $US8.3 billion based on sales by the parts of Lucent from which it was formed. It has 30,000 employees.
While it claims to be the biggest enterprise telephony company in the world, the distinction of having New Zealand’s biggest VoIP installation, at the Department of Social Welfare, goes to Cisco. Wicks looks on the bright side of that deal saying such a big installation “is good for the business”.