Avaya-Nortel Roadmap: A Closer Look

Charlene O'Hanlon

January 19, 2010

3 Min Read
Avaya-Nortel Roadmap: A Closer Look

Avaya spent much of today sharing details about its plans for the recently acquired Nortel Enterprise business unit. The complementary nature of Nortel’s communications technology with Avaya’s product offerings made the acquisition and transition much easier, Avaya officials claim. And here’s an ironic bonus: Buying a division of a bankrupt company streamlined Avaya’s planning process considerably.

“Our common view of technology allowed us to integrate a lot faster. We didn’t have to go through the forced selection process that so many acquisitions undergo,” said Todd Abbott, senior vice president, Global Sales and Marketing at Avaya. “Because we were buying a bankrupt company we were able to go in much more aggressively and force change within the [Nortel] before the acquisition took place.”

Abbott made his comments during a conference call to kick off Avaya’s new product roadmap, which integrates Nortel and Avaya technologies in unified communications, contact center, SME communications and data products offerings. The result is a more robust product set that enables a standard migration path for both Nortel and Avaya customers.

Avaya officials were quick to stress the new roadmap will benefit channel partners in both the depth and scope of product offerings, combining the best of both companies’ technologies. In addition, Nortel partners will benefit from the channel-centric focus of Avaya, Abbott said.

“We expect to have high touch with our channel partners to drive business and demand, but our channel partners are fundamentally our route to market. We also need to make sure we are accountable for their actions,” he noted. Hence the Avaya Connect partner program announced last October and taking flight in February. Among its many benefits, Avaya Connect streamlines the company’s pricing structure as well as its training and certifications and focuses more on recognizing and rewarding the competency of the partner as a whole, not on the partner’s close rates.

The one sticking point to the whole shebang may be in services: Moving forward, warranties on software will be for three months from 12 months, and Level 4 services will be sold as an annuity-based contract that can be resold as the channel partner chooses – either as a full-blown partner-managed services contract or as an Avaya-managed services contract. Abbott noted these changes are part of an effort to move toward an industry-standard approach to services.

These changes also reflect the one area where Nortel and Avaya differed greatly in their approach. Nortel relied on its partners to provide customer support, from simple cabling to complex project management and back-end support, whereas Avaya traditionally kept services in-house. While it has been moving toward a more channel-focused model in services, Avaya is still keeping its finger planted in the services pie.

Channel partners can choose to take on some or all of the services provided to their end user customers, and Avaya has turned over to its partners entirely the low-profit, low-profile services such as building cabling. But it has chosen to remain in the higher-end project management and technology knowledge areas of service, giving partners the option of partnering with Avaya, allowing Avaya to handle it or doing it themselves. Abbott said it’s all in the name of high-quality customer support.

Nortel and Avaya channel partners both have a lot to win on the services side. As Avaya lets go of control yet keeps a watchful eye on services, channel partners will get the benefit of being able to spread their wings with the knowledge that Avaya can catch them if they start to fall.

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