Online store launched for Avaya cloud products

Organizations can now buy multi-tenant Avaya cloud products through a self-service website targeted at small and midsize businesses.

Avaya has begun selling its cloud-based unified communications and contact center platforms through a self-service website. The online store's launch this week should help the vendor better compete in the market for public cloud services.

Avaya remains one of the largest UC and contact center vendors in the industry, with more than 140 million on-premises users. But the vendor was slow to launch Avaya cloud products and spent most of 2017 in bankruptcy court to restructure excessive debt.

The new website is a significant milestone because it provides businesses with an easy way to buy products from Avaya's portfolio of UC and contact center products for multi-tenant clouds. The site also gives channel partners new tools for reaching out to potential customers.

The UC offering is a public cloud-based version of the vendor's flagship IP Office platform. Avaya grew subscriptions to this product from 40,000 seats to 200,000 seats in fiscal 2018, according to the company's latest financial disclosure.

The contact center, also available through a public cloud, is based on the technology of Spoken Communications, which Avaya acquired in early 2018. Avaya began selling this product to the general public under the Avaya cloud brand this week.

To date, Avaya has sold mostly private cloud products, which are more expensive than public clouds and typically appeal to larger organizations that need a high degree of customization. The vast majority of the 3.5 million Avaya cloud seats are in private clouds.

In the public cloud market, also known as the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market, Avaya trails legacy rivals Cisco and Mitel, as well as pure-cloud newcomers such as RingCentral and 8x8, according to the latest research by Synergy Research Group and Avaya's public disclosures.

Avaya plans to use the new online store to target small and midsize businesses, a divergence from its traditional focus on the enterprise market. In an earnings call with investors last week, Avaya CEO Jim Chirico said two-thirds of its 2,000 midmarket customers were new as of this year.

Cisco also recently launched a campaign targeting the midmarket with cloud UC and contact center products it acquired from BroadSoft, bundled with the Cisco Webex cloud-based collaboration suite.

Avaya is looking to reverse a yearlong decline in UC sales. Product revenue from that segment was 7% lower in the fourth quarter of 2018 than it was during the same period last year, while total UC revenue was down 1% on the year.

Team collaboration remains a weak spot in Avaya's portfolio. In addition to cloud-based phone systems, businesses are increasingly looking to buy cloud-based apps for instant messaging, file sharing and online meetings. Vendors leading the growing market include Cisco, Microsoft and Slack.

Microsoft and Cisco have integrated cloud PBX systems with the team collaboration apps Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams. Avaya, meanwhile, is still in the process of rebranding Zang Spaces as Avaya Spaces, and rarely mentions the product.

Avaya has also yet to integrate its cloud UC and contact center platforms, an initiative the company said it would work on in 2019.

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