Avaya Inc. today introduced an Internet protocol-based video telephony solution that makes desktop videoconferencing as simple as a phone call. The solution integrates broadcast-quality video and office phone functionality into a single, easy-to-use interface, enabling business users to initiate videoconferences on their PC or laptop. This helps organizations quickly and cost-effectively deploy enterprise-class videoconferencing across a business, paving the way for enhanced collaboration and greater organizational efficiencies.

The new solution – The Avaya Video Telephony Solution: Desktop Edition – makes face-to-face collaboration convenient and easy. For example, office and home-based employees, as well as remote and mobile workers, can simply log onto the business network and make video calls that can be transferred, muted, or placed on hold – just like a phone call. To initiate desktop videoconferences, a user only requires a colleague’s phone number, unlike typical desktop video implementations, which also require knowledge of an IP address or separate video calling number. Videoconferences can be held over broadband or wireless LAN (WLAN) connections.

The solution also delivers higher resolution video, offering broadcast-quality images at 30 frames per second and significantly reducing jitter and lag issues typical of many web-cam videoconferencing solutions. It uses the Polycom® ViaVideo™ II camera – featuring an internal processor and compression algorithms – that transmits continuous, clear video images without taxing a computer’s performance. This lets users utilize multiple applications at once, while retaining high-quality videoconferencing.  

The end result is a powerful tool to enhance collaboration among a distributed workforce, enabling co-workers to instantly see and more effectively communicate with colleagues around the globe. Organizations can boost efficiencies through reduced travel – saving both time and money – and decrease costs by introducing video over a converged IP infrastructure. A converged IP network reduces the labor and equipment expenses associated with managing separate voice and data networks.  The solution can also be implemented on existing PCs, further lowering costs by leveraging existing investments.

Charter Steel and The Seattle Times Company Get “Face Value” from Video over IP

With more businesses seeking to improve their collaborative capabilities for greater competitive advantage, the growth opportunities in desktop videoconferencing are significant. According to Gartner, in 2004 there are more than 340 million professional desktop PCs available around the globe, representing PCs in the business workplace, as well as government and educational offices .

Two companies that are testing the solution include Charter Steel, a privately held firm supplying the automotive industry, and The Seattle Times Company, a leading publishing company. Both use open standards-based IP applications from Avaya’s suite of MultiVantage™ Communications Applications, and are evolving to video over IP.

“With its easy-to-use interface, affordable pricing and impressive video quality, the Avaya Video Telephony Solution makes it easier to introduce desktop videoconferencing into our company,” said Peter Schwei, Charter Steel’s telecommunications supervisor. “This adds a visual dimension to communications, helping us improve collaboration between our Wisconsin-based headquarters and Cleveland manufacturing plant, while reducing travel costs. It can also play a key role in the multi-year construction of a new steel mill in Cleveland, which requires daily interaction between the mill’s technical staff and headquarters.”

Thomas Dunkerley, IT communications manager for Seattle Times Company adds: “Our recent trials with Avaya IP videoconferencing show great promise toward meeting the demands of our business, which requires ad hoc communications among many employees, including hundreds of decentralized workers. Whether someone is working at home, in the newsroom, or at the printing plant, we need to be able to see each other, and you can’t be expressive if video is hard to access and jerking around. This issue has been resolved by Avaya and Polycom, enabling us to get clear, high-quality video – at the click of a mouse.”

Avaya and Polycom: Delivering on a Joint Initiative in IP Video Telephony

The Avaya Video Telephony Solution delivers on a joint development, sales and marketing initiative between Avaya, the market leader in IP Telephony , and Polycom, Inc., the leading provider of unified collaborative communications solutions. It integrates the Avaya IP Softphone, an application that works as an office phone on a computer, with the Polycom ViaVideo camera and microphone, resulting in a unified communication solution incorporating voice, video, instant messaging and presence.

“Communicating more effectively is necessary for enterprises to remain competitive in today’s global economy,” said Brent Kelly, senior analyst and partner at Wainhouse Research. “By incorporating video into everyday workflow tools already on the desktop – like a soft phone, instant messaging and presence – enterprises can realize significant improvements in how they plan, coordinate, and execute. Integrating Avaya’s highly-regarded IP telephony products with Polycom’s market-leading video systems gives enterprises a rich and compelling communications solution.”

The Avaya Video Telephony Solution is available globally and is sold by Avaya with joint marketing from the two companies. Avaya will also continue to expand its sales of Polycom conferencing products beyond North America direct sales channels to include North America indirect channels, as well as global markets.

“Businesses are facing a tidal wave of shifting demands, as a new generation of video-savvy workers enters the workforce, and more employees require instant communications from any location,” said Micky Tsui, Avaya’s vice president and general manager, communications systems division. “Avaya is helping companies overcome these challenges through easy-to-use collaboration tools that incorporate audio, data and video. By providing a simple, cost-effective way to weave IP video throughout an organization, Avaya and Polycom are removing the barriers to deploying enterprise-class desktop videoconferencing.”

“Video communications is a natural, powerful extension to an enterprise’s IP communications platform, extending the rich media collaboration capabilities for Avaya customers,” said Hans Schwarz, chief systems architect for Polycom. “As a result of our joint development efforts, Avaya customers can now make a video call by dialing the phone – a simple, intuitive process for anyone. The integration also ensures a smooth deployment and management environment for IT administrators.”

The Avaya Video Telephony Solution is part of Avaya’s strategy to accelerate the development of IP communications applications that integrate conferencing into business processes.  Video adds an essential component to Avaya’s suite of converged solutions, enabling businesses to access a range of IP-based multi-modal collaboration tools blending audio, data and video technologies.

Note to Editors: The Avaya Video Telephony Solution: Desktop Edition powered by Polycom is the first product in a family of videoconferencing solutions. This fully integrated package includes the following:

o Avaya IP Softphone R5.1 – The new release of an IP application that emulates one’s office phone on a PC or laptop.

o Polycom ViaVideo II v5.1.1 – A fully integrated video system with a high-quality camera, microphone and multimedia processor, which connects to the USB port of a PC.

o Avaya Integrator for Polycom Video – A software module adding Polycom ViaVideo II to the Avaya IP Softphone.

o Avaya Video Directory Server – A software application that registers video endpoints on an enterprise network.