Google and Avaya to bring Chromebooks and WebRTC to call centres

It's the first of 'many' future joint offerings from the companies

Google and Avaya are chasing companies seeking to install or upgrade call center systems, promising them easier and more affordable deployments via Chromebooks and a WebRTC interface to the Avaya customer support software.

The integrated systems would let customer-support reps access the Avaya call center software -- hosted in the cloud or in a local network -- via the Chrome browser. Tapping the Chrome browser's native support of WebRTC, users will be able to communicate with audio and video without having to install additional software.

"As we move to omni-channel support, incorporation of video is essential for contact centers," said Joe Manuele, a vice president at Avaya.

WebRTC technology, heavily supported and promoted by Google, allows audio and video conferencing applications to run on browsers via Javascript APIs without needing special plugins or add-ons.

For example, it will be possible for contact center staffers to launch one-to-many video conference sessions, and to route them to another agent while in progress without interrupting the broadcast, according to Manuele.

Avaya hopes the offering will attract new clients and prompt customers of its call center software to upgrade their systems, especially those looking to move away from traditional Windows desktop PCs loaded with local software or to replace thin, virtualized clients, and thus simplify their infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Google expects the partnership to help spur demand for Chromebook devices. Although Google doesn't make Chromebooks, the company generates revenue licensing and IT administration software for the devices.

The Avaya-Google bundle includes the Avaya Agent for Chrome software, and the Google Chrome management console. It can be ordered now and will ship in the coming weeks. It's expected to start at $30 per concurrent user, per month, for a three-year subscription, or $900 for a perpetual license.

Chromebook devices are sold separately. The partnership currently doesn't include a specific deal with any hardware vendor, but any Google-authorized Chrome device -- Chromebook laptops and Chromebox desktops alike -- will work with the call center software. Hardware makers that market Chrome devices include HP, Lenovo, Asus, Acer and Toshiba. "There's a great set of Chrome devices out there for the enterprise," said Rajen Sheth, Director of Product Management, Chrome for Business and Education at Google.

One customer with concrete plans to adopt the Avaya Agent for Chrome is MeadWestvaco, a logistics company with customers in 100 countries that, according to Avaya, wants to simplify and modernize its contact center systems.

The partnership isn't exclusive, so the companies can team up with each other's competitors. However, Google and Avaya plan to continue collaborating. "This is the first of many [joint] announcements," Manuele said.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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