Following IAUG (International Avaya User Group) in Orlando, there has been a lot of buzz about a presentation that was delivered by Avaya, discussing the roadmap for the CS1000 platform. This was one of the first widely heard messages that wasn’t sugar coated. I thought Avaya was very clear. But in the weeks that have followed, I’ve heard a lot of people commenting about the session. There seem to be two very different extremes in their interpretations of that message. One side was that Avaya is end of sale’ing the CS1000. Not true. The other extreme was that customers don’t need to make a decision for another 7 years. Also, not true. I suppose people hear what they want to hear. I think it is important that we know the facts. This way you can make the best decision for your business. And if you need help figuring out the best solution, the teams at Arrow SI are here to help.
During the breakout session, Avaya very clearly stated that R7.6 is the last feature release of CS1000. That doesn’t mean Avaya is stopping support of the product. Avaya stated specifically that they intend to provide Service Packs to continue improving quality and stability, keeping the platform current, and to enable easier transitions to Avaya Communication Manager or IP Office. There was no statement of an end of sale. Obviously, I think we all realize that will come at some point, but Avaya has no planned date in mind yet. Playing that scenario out, based on normal end of support policies, that gives the CS1000 an end of support date of at least 2020.
The important thing here is to recognize that there are no new features being added directly to CS1000. Avaya’s feature additions to CS1000 will be through integrations to a Communication Manager based solution. The first thing that was done here (updated with CS1000 R7.6) was to provide a tight integration to what Avaya calls the Collaboration Pack (current version is 1.1). This is basically a physical server that is running a collection of virtualized Aura components (ie Communication Manager, System Manager, Session Manager, Application Enablement Server, Presence Server, and a Utility Server) that in the “red” world we’d call the Avaya Aura Solution for Midsize Enterprise. It’s actually a great way to add modern applications to a system. Avaya has documented key integration pieces to make this work seamlessly with existing Nortel endpoints. There are scenarios where you might want an individual user to stay pure CS1000 or go pure Avaya Communication Manager, or even a hybrid approach where a user keeps their existing, CS1000 phone but adds the new Aura applications to it, using SIP peering. In the event that you want a more “pure” Communication Manager endpoint Avaya’s Software Investment Program (ASIPP) lets you migrate the software licenses, reducing the costs associated with the converting legacy Nortel endpoints, over to Avaya endpoints. The beauty is that with the Collaboration Pack, you can do this as much or as little as you like. If you have 30% of users that don’t need Aura features, leave them on the CS1000. The rest you can either move completely to the Collaboration Pack or leave on the CS1000 and simply sim-ring them to endpoints on Collaboration Pack. This gives you lots of flexibility to migrate as fast or as slow as you want.
A new option that I’m very excited about will give us the ability to actually register specific Nortel phones directly to an Avaya Aura system. Let’s face it. The physical phone is a significant part of the cost associated with a migration from CS1000 to Communication Manager. Avaya has done an amazing job of making the software license part of it easier. But, until recently, you had to buy all new phones (or start using softphones). Avaya announced their intention to develop a new load of SIP firmware for the 11xx and 12xx series of Nortel phones (specifically, the 1120E, 1140E, 1165E, 1220, 1230, and also the 1100/1200 series expansion modules) that will allow these phones to use SIP to register to Avaya Aura Session Manager, getting a set of features from Communication Manager. This was announced very recently. And Avaya’s moving fast. In fact, beta’s are expected to begin in September of 2013. Keep in mind that Avaya’s intended feature set is not fully committed. And I quote… “the final feature set is not guaranteed until the software load completes the development process and becomes Generally Available”. At first glance, it does not appear that these phones will be AST (Advanced SIP Telephony) devices, but will still be able to get a lot of Communication Manager through Featured Named Extensions. But migrating from CS1000 to Communication Manager could get a whole lot easier for those customers that were already investing in Nortel’s IP Telephony.
So, while Avaya is clarly not going to add additional features directly to the CS1000 platform directly, they are still providing a LOT of options to customers to leverage your investment, all while adding modern communication solutions and advanced applications. No other manufacturer can offer as many investment protecting options to a CS1000 customer as Avaya. Everyone else will require a full rip and replace, losing the investment that the customer made in both hardware and software. If you’re interested in learning more about Avaya’s stated roadmap for CS1000 customers, definitely talk to your Arrow SI sales representative. They can show you the value that you have in your existing CS1000 investment and can help you move that forward in a way that is a perfect fit for your organization.