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The VAR Guy visited Avaya's headquarters in New Jersey earlier this week. Sure, he was tempted to take a detour to the local Six Flags theme park or the Atlantic City casinos. But he's glad he didn't. In fact, The VAR Guy learned seven key traits about Avaya during the executive briefing. First, some background on the meeting. The discussion included: Pete Leuzzi, VP of Worldwide Channel Strategy and Operations Ken Archer, VP of North American Channel Sales Programs and Strategy

The VAR Guy

June 28, 2007

3 Min Read
Seven Surprises At Avaya

The VAR Guy visited Avaya’s headquarters in New Jersey earlier this week. Sure, he was tempted to take a detour to the local Six Flags theme park or the Atlantic City casinos. But he’s glad he didn’t. In fact, The VAR Guy learned seven key traits about Avaya during the executive briefing.

First, some background on the meeting. The discussion included:

  • Pete Leuzzi, VP of Worldwide Channel Strategy and Operations

  • Ken Archer, VP of North American Channel Sales Programs and Strategy

  • Jean Mauck, VP of SMB Channel North America

  • Gary Collins, director of Avaya SLE Channel Sales

  • Deb Kline, Avaya PR

  • Naturally, The VAR Guy was a fly on the wall.

Now, the seven key takeaways:

7. Staying the Course: The pending buyout of Avaya — to a private equity firm — hasn’t distracted the company’s channel team. They remain focused on recruiting application providers, vertical market experts and other influencers into the Avaya partner program. And a unified Avaya global partner program is “coming soon,” according to Leuzzi.

6. On the Same Page: Avaya spoke highly of its relationship with Juniper (among other companies). During the Juniper J-Partner Summit in May, Juniper spoke highly of Avaya. Hmmm. Sounds like Juniper VARs should investigate Avaya solutions, and vice versa.

5. Social Networks: Like just about everyone else (including The VAR Guy), Avaya is trying to determine how social networks may help partners communicate with one another to build stronger businesses. Cisco, The VAR Guy hears, is busy building social networks for VARs that are similar to Monster.com and Amazon.com in design. Whether Avaya makes similar moves remains to be seen.

4. Driving Into Public Safety: This wasn’t a big theme of the discussion, but a rather interesting application did pop up: Avaya has designed a mobile communications system that allows municipalities, first responders and businesses to set up IP telephony systems in 15 minutes or less. It’s a mobile communications solution with a power generator and a satellite connection in case local power and telecommunication services are cut off.

3. The HP Connection: Archer previously worked for former Hewlett-Packard channel chief Kevin Gilroy (who’s now at Arrow). That’s noteworthy experience. Archer helped HP design its channel program to minimize potential channel conflict, so you can expect that same commitment to VARs at Avaya.

2. Software, Software, Software: During the dot-com implosion, reporters predicted that networking companies would increasingly focus on software to diversify their revenue streams and improve margins. In Avaya’s case that has certainly happened. While Cisco and Nortel talk about Unified Communications, Avaya puts a slightly different spin on its software/IP telephony strategy — dubbing it Intelligent Communications. Looking ahead, according to Leuzzi, Avaya will invest heavily on application and software partnerships. Cisco is making somewhat similar moves by partnering with Salesforce.com and other app vendors. Here’s a quick overview of Avaya’s Intelligent Communications strategy, but you should note it comes from the Avaya marketing folks rather than The VAR Guy.

1. Succeeding in Small Business: When The VAR Guy thinks about IP telephony solutions for small business, names like ShoreTel and 3Com (yes, they’re still around) often come to mind — along with bigger names like Cisco and Nortel. Avaya’s Mauck opened The VAR Guy’s eyes. She mentioned that Avaya has 100,000 IP telephony implementations in small businesses (100 or fewer employees). Roughly 1,000 VARs are assisting the effort. Hmmm. Hard to argue with that momentum.

So there you have it. Seven key takeaways from Avaya. Naturally, Cisco gets most of the headlines in the networking market. But let’s not forget Avaya is profitable and growing — though not as quickly as Cisco. Assuming the private equity deal gets completed, Avaya will soon escape the watchful eye of Wall Street investors. That means Avaya can focus even more on long-term strategy and execution, rather than penny-per-share earnings that can force companies to sacrifice long-term performance for short-term sales and margins.

If you’re an Avaya partner, don’t be shy: Keep The VAR Guy posted on the company’s progress.

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