Yesterday Nancy Gohring, who is one of the smartest cookies on the planet in the WiFi space wrote a very nice recap on the new blended solution from Motorola, Proxim and Avaya, that Avaya will initially be marketing.
But in another example of "oh $%^&*" from a long in the tooth company like Motorola, this is more of "let's get the announcement out to counter what HP and T-Mobile are about to do" strategy. They did this also following CTIA in Atlanta when Nokia announced an enhanced Communicator, if you recall.
Well in this case Gorhing got the story right or at least right as far as the press was told. But her story which was very well constructed, led me to probe a little more and the concept from the trio, is not as great as the early news would make you think, according to some confidential sources close to the matter. Here's why:
First, several of their "beta" customers, say they're "not happy" with the solution. One, who is too large to name, is basically ready to can the idea of using it. In order to make it work, a user will need a specific Avaya IP-PBX, specific Proxim WLAN switching infrastructure and you need to be signed up with a wireless carrier that has the required Motorola elements and phone.
Sounds like too many "you need to have this, this and that." Can you spell closed system?
Most networking environments are heterogeneous so this is completely unrealistic in most situations. On top of that, some sources at Proxim say that their contribution to this project was cancelled. My source also reports that the Motorola phone exists but it's reportedly not that stable.
There is also something missing. Carriers. While Microsoft, HP and heck, even Danger announce new technology, they always seek to involve a carrier if end users are the target. In the Avaya, Motorola, Proxim announcement there weren't any carriers or customers included in this announcement. It's also relevant to know that T-Mobile pulled their plans to retail the Motorola MPXs earlier this year. Do you think the customer focused T-Mobile USA team realized that an iPaq with WiFi was the way to go?
Then there is the point about 802.11a. And you'll use that phone in what coffee shop? In your friend's house that already has what flavor of WiFi....come on....please.
My deep throat source said, "with respect to the actual solution, there is no parity of services between the enterprise environment and wide-area. As soon as you walk-out of the door, you lose a lot of functionality; kind of like your T-Mobile experience. What's even worse is that all of the calls are routed through the PBX which makes no sense. (Something Gohring started to explain but tailed off on.) There's no real network intelligence to enable single-number, single voicemail services. If I call you directly from this Motorola cell phone, it's routed through the PBX and then to the called party in order to preserve a consistent Caller ID. This is pretty ridiculous if you ask me as it takes more time to actually reach people and the underlying cost structure has just gone up! Now the enterprise has to pay for not only a call to the PBX but also for the outbound PBX call. It's the same thing for incoming calls. Forget about stuff like push-2-talk and other services... not going to happen. If for some reason I was able to get around the PBX and called you directly, you would notice that I have a different number. If you called me back on this number, you would get a different voicemail. What a piece of crap!"
Avaya is under pressure. Companies not on the radar are going after, and about to take away the PBX business using everything from Peer To Peer technology to newly minted cross platform unified service in session switching, authentication and authorization that impacts policy, carriage and clearing.
It would really seem that Avaya's is trying to preserve their existing PBX/voicemail business they know will soon be directly under assault from mobile carriers, as they know that wireline replacement/wireless substitution hurts them big-time. Today the market for fixed voice estimated to be in the US at $200B. Does anyone think that T-Mobile, Virgin, Nextel are going to leave that market alone forever?
With that in mind, one has to ask, is Avaya so fixated on the fear of Cisco that they had to leap into this type of deal with Proxim and Motorola to try and get into the VoIP mobility space, rather than reinventing themselves for the betterment of their customers.
Credit to Nancy, for inspiration. Kudos to my sources for helping me better understand what wasn't said.