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Avaya to Shun Microsoft's Directory

LAS VEGAS -- Partnerships and standards are the key to Voice over Internet Protocol adoption, according to Avaya CEO Donald Peterson and Extreme Networks CEO Gordon Stitt.

The two partners, who shared the stage in a keynote at Interop Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon, were far less than complimentary about Microsoft's incursion into the VoIP space.

Peterson and Stitt began by praising each other's efforts and the Avaya/Extreme partnership, with Peterson noting that partnerships in the telephony space are key for growth.

"A single vendor for end to end worked great for a time, but it doesn't provide for innovation or a cost effective solution," Peterson said.

Stitt added that the value of a network goes up as more people connect. As such, the industry needs to build on standards, which is ultimately how organizations derive value.

The battleground for standards in VoIP is directories, Peterson said. Directories are all about value and control, in his view.

To wit, the core competitive intersection between Avaya and Microsoft is at the directory level.

"There are two corporate directories that exist. One is e-mail and one is voice and each of those can be used to build the communication capabilities that will be there and expand presence," Peterson said. "Solutions are going to be brought forward on both directories."

"If Microsoft owned the world, everybody would sign up to the type of agreement that, unfortunately, some of my competitors have signed up to where there is a one way passage of information from the telephone network to the Microsoft management process," Peterson continued.

"We did not do that and we won't do that, but we're happy to share in federated, structured information about the voice network."

Peterson promised that Avaya will create presence that adds e-mail capabilities and he believes that solution can be built around Avaya's infrastructure.

"But I am not going to participate in the one-time-and-its-over migration of that value to Microsoft," Peterson said.

Google also thinks that directories are important, though Peterson isn't going to weigh in on either side of the Google versus Microsoft battle.

"I don't want to build up Google and their fight with Microsoft at the expense of losing my own battle with Google later," Peterson said.

Stitt got what was perhaps the largest applause from any Interop Las Vegas 2006 session yet with a snide comment that followed Peterson's Microsoft tirade.

"I've had an Avaya IP phone on my desk for years and don't recall every having had to reboot it," he said.