Lippis Report Issue 84: Fixed Mobile Point Conversion
I am redefining the term for enterprise-based fixed mobile convergence (FMC) with Mobile Unified Communications. FMC is the linking of fixed telephony end-points such as desktop phones and messaging with mobile devices. Unified Communications is making FMC obsolete as business and IT leaders search for solutions to provide mobile executives with the same features on the road as they have in the office. All the major IP telephony providers are busy extending their UC features and interfaces to mobile devices, which far outstrips the single vmail box, PBX features on mobile phones and fixed/mobile phone ringing tricks provided by FMC. IP telephony companies such as Avaya have purchased Traverse Networks to extend their mobile UC offering while Cisco purchased Orative to do the same. The offerings of both companies deliver value far above traditional FMC capabilities.
To make this point, we´ll focus this Lippis Report on Avaya´s FMC to Mobile Unified Communications MUC offering. Clearly there are many other firms such as Cisco, Siemens, Nortel, Mitel, Alcatel-Lucent that are on the same FMC to MUC journey and in another Lippis Report we may profile each of these firms.
Related Whitepaper: Avaya Mobility Solutions
Avaya has an over-arching mobility umbrella, which is referenced internally as the one-X experience for mobility. The goal is to provide executives the same communications experience when moving from a fixed desk environment to a mobile environment. To achieve this common experience the features and capabilities available in a fixed environment transpose out to a mobile environment. What´s meant by mobile environment are devices that are not only a cellular phone, but also PDAs and softphones. The key is to provide the same rich PBX functionality on mobile devices as are available on fixed station sets, so executives have access to features such as call transfer, hold, and about 20 other features that are typically exposed, without needing to learn anything new. In addition to the one-X experience Avaya has conducted integration with Microsoft, Lotus Notes, Dominos, IBM Websphere and others that are both fixed and mobile.
Related Whitepaper: Avaya Self Mobility Case Study: Boosting Its Productivity, Responsiveness And Creating A Branded Customer Experience
Early FMC: Extension to Cellular
A few years back Avaya released the extension to cellular capability, which is the basis of its FMC offering. Extension to cellular provides dual ringing, meaning that an executive can ring multiple extensions. This enables executives to have a single number and single voicemail capabilities. One can call your enterprise phone and that rings you on your multiple devices as you wish. Also a single voicemail box provides access to both fixed and mobile messaging. Then Avaya added the ability to use PBX features through the extension to cellular capability.
During 2005 Avaya released a software client to make it easier to use those features on Nokia phones. This is called the one-X Mobile Client. What Avaya has done is continue development on the one-X Mobile Client and now has released a dual mode version, which allows executives to switch between GSM and Wifi. When executives are in the campus the dual mode phone will use SIP over WiFi for communications and while outside the campus or office building the phone switches back to GSM.
Related Case Study: Grene Vision Group Gains 20/20 IT Vision with Avaya Interoperability and Mobility
Dual Mode Phones
The extension to cellular, dual mode capabilities and one-X Mobile Client combine into a flexible mobile experience, which many in the industry find interesting. Interest in the WiFi portion of the dual mode phones are rooted in a least cost routing play where IT departments are able to reduce cellular cost by shifting mobile minutes to their IP telephony infrastructure when employees are roaming within their buildings. In fact, many executives use their mobile devices as their main communicating end-point even when inside an enterprise campus. There´s also a single mode GSM-only phone with Windows Mobile support on the horizon which provides all the One-X features such as conferencing, transfer, hold, single voicemail, and single number and about 20 other common features.
The Avaya FMC capabilities are inherent in its communications manager server whereas many other solutions in the industry require an additional server or a third party box to deliver FMC features. That will tend to drive up solution cost. Building on this FMC foundation Avaya is now extending the feature set into a Mobile Unified Communications environment.
Related Whitepaper: Wireless Solutions for Security and Surveillance
Enter Traverse Networks and Mobile Unified Communications
With the Traverse Networks acquisition Avaya is able to bring in additional capability such as visual voicemail where voicemails actually appear on a mobile device visually. Voicemail looks like an email allowing the executive to manage, listen, call back parties, forward, etc., voicemails. Another cool feature is the ability to synchronize call logs between an enterprise desktop phone and mobile device. Profiling is yet another MUC feature giving the executive control over who can call in, who is put into voicemail, who is transferred, etc. Traverse provides Avaya with the ability to provide MUC over a variety of phones and end-points such as the Blackberry, Nokia and others.
Related Whitepaper: Mobility & Cost Savings in a Multi-site Environment
Mobile is Not Just Wireless
Being mobile doesn´t mean wireless; it also means being remote and leveraging VPN technology to communicate. Avaya offers a VPN phone, which is essentially a desk set phone that operates remotely over a VPN. It works like this: you take your desk set, which has VPN capability in it and is programmed to your corporate VPN. Many executives take it home when working remotely and plug it into their home router and it VPNs back into the corporate network transferring all the office phone features to the home office.
Related Whitepaper: An Introduction to Wireless Mesh Networking
Making Mobility Easier
Avaya has added specific buttons for mobility. For example, the call forward capability has its own button. On the new 9600 series phones there is a hard key to transfer a call to a mobile end-point to keep busy executives on the go. It´s simple in that once an executive hits the transfer button in mid- sentence her cellular phone will automatically be dialed and the call is moved so the conversation can continue while she walks out of the building.
In short what Avaya is doing is not just about mobility, but how do you seamlessly go between both fixed and mobile environments. Most executives travel between a mobile and enterprise environment and back continually during the day. When executives are mobile within a campus or building Avaya has a fairly rich grouping of WiFi only phones, which are perfect as a campus/building roaming communicating device as they eliminate cellular minutes from being consumed within the office.
FMC vs. MUC
Avaya is known for its survivability and its core IP telephony infrastructure. That ties right into its mobility offerings. Mobility also comes into play as a major factor in disaster planning and business continuity, offering employees options and capabilities to communicate without an office setting. FMC provides a simple set of mobility voice features which will be rapidly outdated as companies such as Cisco, Siemens, Mitel, Alcatel-Lucent, Microsoft/Nortel and Avaya extend their unified communication portfolios over mobile end-points.