Avaya releases IP Office version 10.1

Today Avaya made the new IP Office version 10.1 generally available. This release comes with a few new options and some minor enhancements.

  • Integrated Contact Recorder
  • Media Manager
  • Simplified Mobile Access
  • Multiple Appearance Directory Number
  • Privacy Override
  • Support of different hypervisors
  • Voicemail Pro Database Access on Linux
  • Enhancements of OneX Desktop applications
  • Equinox Select as a preview
  • New hardware

Integrated Contact Recorder

Integrated Contact Recorder (ICR) can be seen as the new CCR. CCR was a less liked reporting tool for IP Office that had to be installed on a Windows Server together with a Microsoft SQL Server. I remember more problems than effort for those few installations we had. With the release of IPO 9.1 CCR had been dropped and the only replacement option had been the bigger and more expensive IP Office Contact Center.

Integrated Contact Recorder is delivered as a service on an IPO Linux server (Server Edition or IP500 with Linux application server).

Like with CCR before ICR will create reports based on hunt groups. In it’s initial release it comes with a bunch of prepared and fixed reports and without the option to edit those or to create own reports. It will also only report external inbound calls.

ICR will support up to 25 agents and a five supervisors. You will need to purchase licenses. Each agent or supervisor needs to be a Power User but therefore the ICR licenses will be free of charge. Let’s wait how long…

Media Manager

In opposite to the previously for voice recording used application Contact Store/Contact Recorder the new Media Manager (MM) is an Avaya application and not a software from a third party vendor.

The recording work flow is still the same. Voicemail Pro records the call and stores the recording into the Voice Recording Library (VRL). From there the recording will be imported into the recording database.

MM comes with a modern web interface that had the same look and feel like IPO web management and allowed users can access recordings through their web self admin login.

Media Manager will also be able to store backups to a DVD or at remote locations like Google cloud and NAS.

Simplified Mobile Access

Simplified Mobile Access adds three additional FNE codes to use. Besides the already available codes 31/32/33 they added codes 35/36/37. The main difference is that with Simplified Mobile Access you will not get dial tone from IP Office if the remote side ends a call but the call with the mobile phone will be dropped as well. You will also not be able to use in call feature codes ** and ## to hold/transfer or to end a call.

For most end users this will be easier as they don’t have to hang up the cell phone to start the next call.

Multiple Appearance Directory Number (MADN)

In earlier releases the only option to use an additional number to be reached at was to configure bridged appearance buttons. The disadvantage in this solution was that those bridged appearances needed a running phone (digital or H323) with the extension the bridged appearance is for. That would need endpoint licenses or digital station ports and phones.

With release 10.1 you only need to configure a user and you can create the button on your phone. No phone is needed and no extra licenses or ports have to be purchased.

You can configure the MADN button for either a single call appearance of another user (like with bridged appearances) or for all call appearances of another user on one button.

We are now able to easily cover scenarios like a secretary and the boss as well as using a private extension that can be reached even if the main extension is forwarded.

Privacy Overrride

In earlier releases it was not possible to define who can pickup other user’s calls and who can see the other user’s opposite call partner. The last had to be set globally by enabling or disabling the global option ‘DSS Status’.

Now we are able to create hunt groups to define who can see the DSS status of a user and who can pickup that user’s calls. Those groups are also used when using CTI applications.

Great feature in my opinion with one significant disadvantage. Those rights (like monitor groups and coverage groups) are handled by hunt groups and even if a hunt group is not used as a call target it is still counted as configured hunt group. Especially in bigger systems the number of hunt groups is limited and we can run into that limit if we configure multiple of those groups.

Support of different hypervisors

While in earlier releases it was only supported to virtualize IPO servers on VMWare ESXi with release 10.1 more hypervisor platforms are supported. The following platforms can now run IP Office servers:
– VMWare ESXi 5.5 and 6.x
– Amazon Web Services
– Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 and 2016
– KVM (only in cloud installations)

Voicemail Pro Database Access on Linux

For many years the Voicemail Pro service on Microsoft Windows has been able to access databases through ODBC but the Linux version wasn’t. Now the Linux version is able to access MySQL and PostgreSQL databases.

Good to hear but many customer use Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle databases. Those are not accessible. Perhaps in a later release. My wish would have been to handle as much as possible directly and to deliver some kind of a proxy service running on Windows machines to access databases through ODBC. Similar as it has been with the MAPI connector to connect to Microsoft Exchange Server.

Enhancements of OneX Desktop applications

The desktop applications ‘Outlook plugin’ and ‘Call Assistant’ got two main enhancements.

Up to release 10.0 those clients were not able to access a centralized LDAP directory. Strange to have a LDAP directory configured in OneX Portal that is useable within the web interface but not to be able to use the same directory from the desktop applications that connect to OneX Portal. In release 10.1 OneX Portal will publish the LDAP URL to the desktop client. The client can access that directory. That’s necessary but I would have liked to have the client not to connect to the LDAP server directly but to have the directory delivered through the OneX Portal WebSocket connection. Perhaps it is a performance thing.

Did you ever roll out the mentioned desktop applications through a central software deployment solution? It’s a mess but it’s getting better. Even if the way is long and gone really slow by Avaya. So far so good. I guess you have deployed it once and you are fine so far. But what happens with the next update of the OneX Portal server? Since the application version must match the server version you always have to ensure that the app is up to date. Another package to build and deploy… Now, as soon as the application version is 10.1 or newer it will detect the version difference and start to update the software automatically. That’s a real enhancement. You still have the challenge to initially deploy the software. But it that is done you don’t have to care about updates anymore.

Equinox Select as a preview

Don’t we have enough soft phone options right now? In my opinion yes. But the naming gives me the hope that Avaya wants to migrate them into a single application. For the Aura platform the already deployed Avaya Equinox. It is a Client application that is available for smartphones, tablets and computers with a unique design oder all platforms. So I hope that the now released ‘Equinox Select’ for IP Office is the start to do the same for IP Office. Equinox Select is currently just a customer feedback edition (CFE) without official support. A user only needs an Office Worker or Power User license.

Equinox Select is available as browser based Client and as a Windows application. The Windows application is technically just a small browser that connects to the Equinox Select URL. Equinox a Select connects to IP Office as a SIP device through the WebRTC gateway service.

It supports the common features like call, conference, presence and messaging, point to point video with other Equinox Select users and call log. It can also handle different tags for contacts.

Let’s just try and test it and see what happens with the next releases. It can be a good option in a home office or if you connect your laptop to a customer’s network.

New hardware

With release 10.1 Avaya will offer a new expansion module DS16B2/DS30B2 that will be compatible with IPO release 10.1 and with the next service pack of release 9.1. Be aware that you will not be able to take a DSxxB2 from stock to replace a defective one that is currently connected to an IPO release 9.0 or earlier.

Avaya will also make new DECT handsets 3730 and 3735 available to replace the current 3720/3725 models. The feature set is similar. The biggest difference is a colored display in 3730 while 3720 had a black and white only display.

Conclusion

This is just a short overview of the new features I see as the most important. For sure you probably see other features as more important than I do. Perhaps the new developer interfaces to attach CTI software or to manage and monitor the system through a REST API.

All the needed information and software will be available under https://support.avaya.com/downloads/downloads-landing.action?product_id=P0160&product_name=IP+Office%26trade%3b+Platform+&release_number=10.1.x&contentType=Downloads. Please check the Release Notes carefully for information about new features, licensing and things to consider when upgrading an older system. Additional information can be found in the Offer Definition

It looks like if Avaya is on a good way. Things go on a little too slow in my opinion and they are sometimes too far away from what the end user really needs. Especially the desktop applications are far away from what third party vendors offer through the limited TAPI interface.

One last information… If your system is still on release 10.0 you will not have to buy an upgrade. I guess after changing the licensing from ADI to PLDS the IPO guys didn’t realize that PLDS doesn’t seem to need support upgrade licensing for minor release upgrades. Probably they would have released this version as 11.0 instead.

Have fun so far and feel free to comment and tell me your opinion about this post and about IPO 10.1

If you need further help with IP Office you can contact me through my main website: https://www.fwilke.com/home

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