MTSU and Avaya, a major leader in business communications, have partnered to create a demonstration lab in the University’s Telecommunications Building that will serve as a “test kitchen” for the company’s portfolio of interactive-communication products. The lab will be open to students and faculty.
MTSU is the first university in the state to house the Avaya hands-on lab and will be joined by a select few additional schools in the southeast as soon as those institutions confirm their participation. Avaya technicians started setting up the lab earlier this year, and by fall the equipment will be accessible for use. The lab will be located in the second-floor conference room.
Avaya also will invite outside consumers to the facility for product demonstrations. MTSU has used Avaya products—previously Lucent Technologies—since 1999 to serve the voice-communication needs of the campus.
“We will be able to get a first look at some of the emerging new technologies that are out there in communications,” noted Bruce Petryshak, vice president for the Information Technology Division at MTSU. “This will allow us to see brand new technology—how it fits the needs of the university and how we might use it. They’re bringing in and installing their newest equipment, and we’re upgrading our existing infrastructure so that we can interface with it.
“MTSU will have the opportunity to experiment with the latest collaboration-enabled technologies even before they are Beta-released,” Petryshak said. “We will have the ability to experiment and perhaps write some code and see if we can do some customizing using our faculty and staff.”
“Avaya has taken the position of being more open-standard, which means that other products are compatible and adaptable,” Deborah Plante, senior systems engineer for Avaya, said. “This is what everyone is looking for. Our goal is to be able to show people what the products can do for their business. With the collaborative effort here at MTSU, we’re installing our products and allowing MTSU to use the products on campus. We have applications that can be created easily—where students can come in, be creative and get hands on experience.”
Some of the cutting-edge technology in the lab will include touch-screen tablets with multi-modal capabilities, including voice, video and instant-message conferencing.
The drag-and-drop feature will allow the user to hold a video conference with one or two associates and bring additional colleagues into the conversation by simply pulling them from the address book into the “spotlight.” Participants will be able to drag a document into screen-share, interact, read and make changes in real-time, do white-boarding, browse a website, etc.
“Video conferencing is expensive right now,” Plante said. “You have to have a dedicated network and a dedicated room. It takes a long time to set up. Our new video products are meant to be technology that’s easy and quick to use. On the back end, it’s high-tech, but on the front end, it’s user-friendly.”
Plante said the lab will be a secured space, and a process will be established where individuals on and off campus will be asked to schedule ahead to use the equipment.
As soon as the other two or three universities in the region are on board as Avaya testing labs, they and MTSU will be able to utilize the communications equipment to interact with one another, Plante said.
The MTSU campus community will be notified when the demonstration lab is completely set up and ready for use.