Both are recruiting and onboarding partners to deliver and support the new Avaya Cloud Office.

Jeffrey Schwartz

July 29, 2020

5 Min Read

The rollout of Avaya Cloud Office in Canada is pitting two master agents, Synnex and Telarus, against each other.

In May, Avaya named both companies as the only master agents in Canada for its new cloud UCaaS offering. Both have since begun recruiting and onboarding channel partners to deliver and support the new Avaya Cloud Office.

Between the two, Canadian partners have a choice of aligning between Synnex, a traditional IT distributor, and telecom-oriented Telarus. Both are also Avaya Cloud Office master agents in the United States, along with Jenne and ScanSource.

Avaya went live in the U.S. in late March with its new cloud UCaaS offering, created in partnership with RingCentral. Expanding into Canada, as well as Australia and the United Kingdom, marked phase two of Avaya Cloud Office’s global rollout. CommsPlus is the master agent in Australia, while in the U.K., Avaya tapped Avant, ScanSource and Westcon.

While Avaya has a large installed base of legacy and IP-based on-premises PBX, it is new to offering cloud UCaaS. Avaya Cloud Office provides a migration path from some of the company’s newer phone sets.

RingCentral is a CLEC in Canada, giving Avaya a “running start” there, said Miles Davis, Avaya Canada’s channel sales VP.  While UCaaS is more widely deployed in the U.S. than Canada, demand has increased, according to Davis.

“Of course, there was a big uptick when COVID-19 broke out,” he said.

Davis explained why Avaya selected Synnex and Telarus as the exclusive master agents in Canada.


Avaya’s Miles Davis

“We’ve been looking at partnerships outside of our traditional business, which has been heavily on-premises hardware-based,” he said. “And that’s why we reached out to Telarus who we have a longstanding relationship with the U.S.”

UCaaS Potential and Canada’s ‘Evolving’ Channel

Despite Telarus’ U.S. presence, it expanded into Canada last year. At the time, Telarus recruited Brian Ochab, who leads the effort as Telarus’ regional VP in Canada. In an interview with Channel Partners, Ochab, a native Canadian, said the UCaaS market in Canada is expanding.

“The Canadian channel landscape is really evolving,” Ochab said.

Ochab underscored differences between the business model in the U.S. and Canada.

“The channel in Canada, in terms of its relative importance to suppliers hitting their sales objectives, isn’t as imperative as it is in the U.S.,” he said. “Here in Canada, it’s been more direct agreements with suppliers, or it’s been using traditional distributors such as the likes of Ingram Micro, Synnex, Tech Data and ScanSource.”


Telarus’ Brian Ochab

The rise of cloud UCaaS has caused that to change, Ochab added. “Now, channel partners and the suppliers are realizing that they need to work together closer,” he said. “They need to start adapting their sales methods and the way they sell, to be able to capitalize on the acceleration of the cloud. The only way to be effective is to become a trusted adviser. And we feel at Talarus that the only way they can do that is to work with a master agent, versus doing what they’ve been doing for years and years with traditional distribution.”

We recently compiled a list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners. So check them out.

Ochab argued that traditional master agents provide more “white glove” service to channel partners than IT distributors.

“We have resources such as readily available engineering and product specialists, who are subject matter experts on steroids,” he said. “We do tons of educational events, either in-person, or now virtually, versus once-a-year big summits. And we are basically a partner support organization. Because the way the model works is that we don’t get paid anything unless the partner sells something, versus resell, where someone is buying the license and reselling it.”

Synnex Buoyed by Westcom-Comstor

Shawn Ardiel, VP sales at Synnex, begs to differ. Synnex has the same …

… master agent credentials, thanks to its $600 million acquisition of Westcom-Comstor’s North American business, Ardiel said.

“Synnex legacy prior to purchasing Westcom-Comstor would have been much more of your traditional IT distributor,” Ardiel told Channel Partners. “But when we bought Westcom-Comstor, it was an incredibly accretive business; that actually catapulted us because we retained all those employee and vendor assets.”

The acquisition of Westcom-Comstor helped Synnex expand into telephony and communications, Ardiel added.

“Westcom has had many years in the networking, telephony, unified communications network and security space,” he said. “We’ve been very strong partners of Avaya for many, many years. This isn’t new to us.”

Industry analyst Janet Schijns, CEO of JS Group, believes Telarus is a better choice.


JS Group’s Janet Schijns

“For Avaya Cloud Office, I would choose Telarus — they have much deeper experience in that space,” Schjins said. “They have stronger customer quoting tools, strong marketing and demand support, and superior partner support for these types of solutions.”

Neither distributor said how many partners have aligned with them. Ardiel said 75% of those who signed on with Synnex as its master agent in Canada were existing Avaya partners.

As an early Microsoft Office 365 partner, Ardiel said Synnex has more experience driving partners through convergence than do traditional master agents.

“This isn’t our first dance into a cloud offering from a vendor,” he said. “We have become a very cloud-first sales organization and our understanding of cloud is now in a much more mature phase than others.”

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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