May 03, 2006, 10:42 AM — The directory is turning into a battleground as a wide range of IT vendors fight to handle multiple forms of communication, according to Donald Peterson, chairman and CEO of Avaya Inc.
"Everybody's after everybody's lunch, and that's absolutely true about this," Peterson said.
Avaya's Intelligent Communications platform and similar systems from other vendors take advantage of a common IP (Internet Protocol) infrastructure to bring together voice, e-mail, text messaging, video and other forms of communication. Several vendors, including Avaya, are working with Microsoft to let customers use Windows Live Communications Server (LCS) as a front end to those applications.
However, for Avaya to keep from becoming just a provider of network plumbing, it needs to keep its own voice-network directory in the picture, rather than hand over directory data to Microsoft as some competitors have done, said Peterson during a moderated discussion with Extreme Networks Inc. President and CEO Gordon Stitt, held at the Interop trade show in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
In order to keep providing call control, access control and a variety of information about presence -- how each user can and wants to be reached -- Avaya needs to maintain its own directory system, Peterson said in an interview after the keynote. Rather than centralizing information about each user in one directory, Avaya wants a standard way to make the voice and data network directories work together, he said.
Saying he didn't mean to criticize LCS, Peterson said Microsoft's product isn't up to handling big telephony deployments.
"It's a reality. It's going to be used in the office. ... I don't believe it will be a large enterprise solution, and I don't believe that Microsoft has asserted that they know how to get there," Peterson said.
Peterson pointed to Google Inc. as perhaps the next major player in directories.
"I don't want to build up Google in their fight with Microsoft at the expense of losing my own battle with Google later," he said. Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google's enterprise unit, will give a keynote address at the show on Wednesday.
Peterson and Stitt spoke glowingly of a technology and marketing partnership between their companies, but they downplayed the idea of a merger. The relationship is working well the way it is, they said.
"It's not clear that our customers would see any value to us becoming one," Stitt said.