Avaya held a Developer's Connect Day at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara CA today.

Interesting program, people and products. I learned about the SIP Enablement Server, how it acts as a proxy and registrar supporting 3rd party applications, SIP trunks and 3rd party clients as well as integration with the Avaya Communications Manager.

Furthermore, I gained great insights with Zeus Kerravala, VP Infrastructure for Yankee Group. Zeus (pronounced zay-os) presented his view of the IP PBX marketplace. Surprise! Users are transitioning to recognizing that its the applications that are driving the market forward, and not the Long Distance savings.

To support this fact, Zeus presented a graphic of the top box scores of a question of IT managers relating to the reasons for deploying IP PBXes verses TDM PBXs. The top reasons: makes it easier to deploy other collaborative applications 92%.

His conclusion on other points were that the demand for integrated applications is high, while the demand for 3rd party applications is low. The logic is that people always prefer integrated, especially when they can't think of what 3rd party applications they mean. Zeus viewed that people really don't know a 3rd party application off hand. In my mind, this is like the expansion slot in the PC chassis (Yes you still have them, although not in laptops).

More expansion slots were a reason to buy one computer over another – even though it was highly likely you'd never use it. Sort of like trunk space in car buying, or 4-wheel drive in SUV purchasing.

Zeus also though that the quality and quantity of IP PBX vendor interoperability support will grow stronger the closer Microsoft comes to releasing its VoIP applications products. The thought is that all the classic vendors will quickly realize that they need customers to imbed as many 3rd party and _____ vendor applications into their IP PBX before MSFT enters the market, so that there is no, or is very little room left for Microsoft.

I believe that the MSFT entry is as much about bringing a new channel of buyers into the market as it is about accelerating or standardizing a nascient market. When Nortel introduced the digital PBX in the mid 1980s, they introduced a remarkable new channel too – the RBOC. AT&T had direct sales. Nortel had RBOCs and they grew phenomenally to earn the #1 PBX market position in the mid 1990s.

Similarly Cisco innovated with product (the CallManager) and with channel – the Cisco Certified Internet Engineer (CCIE). In this way the brought a hot new application for personal growth to an incredible army of data engineers already imbedded in the customer.

And now, Microsoft has the opportunity to bring the real-time VoIP applications suite to their Microsoft Certified Software Engineers. Nortel gives them market credibility. Nortel-Microsoft relationship gives Microsoft permission to enter this market. It is the hope of these two companies that the new market they create together will be bigger and grow faster than the market Nortel already had a big chunk of. Changing the game with product and channel, they hope to increase the cost to the 2nd tier, be a serious threat to the market leaders and increase their share.

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