Ahead of its annual Americas partner summit next month in Cancun, Avaya has unwrapped updates to its midmarket and enterprise communications offering, expanding both the breadth and depth of the technologies.

In the enterprise space, the company has announced a new development platform for its Aura enterprise communications system that enables developers to build custom collaboration apps. Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment is a virtualized platform that uses a common set of methods for voice, video, email and SMS to enable developers to build and test apps that address specific communication needs.

“The easiest way to describe it is it’s an extremely robust middleware that allows the customer, partner or ISV to quickly make their own features,” said Mark Monday, vice president and general manager of Collaboration Platforms at Avaya. “They can add functionality to the system in a quick way and deploy to as many users as they may want.”
Developers will have the option of monetizing the apps they build through an app store offered by Avaya, Monday noted, which the company will build “as partners and developers come online.”

“This truly a middleware; you’re not just writing an application for your API,” he added.

Avaya Aura Collaboration Environment runs on Aura, which has been updated to to include centralized and streamlined management of licenses. “For customers with 100,000 users, that’s important,” Monday noted.

The latest version also includes multitenancy capabilities, which enables service providers to run more than one customer off a single core. In addition to managed service providers, companies that run separate divisions also would benefit from the multitenancy feature, Monday said.

In the midmarket, Avaya has updated its IP Office flagship communications offering to support 2,000 users—up from 1,000—at up to 32 locations. In addition, the latest version is available as a fully virtual offering, capable of running in a data centers using VMware (VMW) vSphere 4.x or 5.x.

“Last year we announced a server version of IP Office, which enabled the system to run on any hardware rather than on a dedicated appliance,” Monday said. “Now we’ve moved from being software on a server to full OVA (Open Virtual Application).”

The latest version also now has the ability to run as a branch offering of Aura, enabling branch offices and distributed environments to have all the functionality of Aura. “This plays well in the retail space,” he noted. “It can be a low-cost, effective solution at the branch and fully centralized and managed at the corporate headquarters as an extension of Aura and have all the capabilities of Aura.”

Finally, Avaya announced Avaya Messaging Service, a cloud-based subscription offering that enables users to receive text messages at their desktop phone number. The service, which runs as an overlay to any communications system, delivers messages to a mobile device and keeps work-related messaging separate from personal messaging.

“As a user, I can give someone truly just one number—they can call or text me at my desktop number, and as I receive text messages to my desktop number I can retrieve them through an app on my mobile device. I can respond either in audio or text,” Monday said. “The advantage is messaging for work is separate from personal, and it’s highly secure and archived, so if I lose phone or quit the company, the content belongs to the company and not to the phone.”

Avaya Messaging Service is expected to be available at the end of October. It will be sold through partners for $10 per month per user.

Monday noted these latest announcements show Avaya is positioning itself to be a player as communication moves into the next realm. "We are uniquely positioning ourselves in the market against our competition," he said. "For Avaya to offer more software capabilities and not be so hardware-focused, it really shows in this release the direction we are headed."