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Despite the solidification of the partner program and praise from partners that Avaya had put a lot of its former channel conflict behind it, top Avaya VARs still see the company's channel progress inhibited by uncertainty about its pending IPO, the complexity of the post-Nortel integration go-to-market model and channel partner profit margins that have been squeezed as Avaya attempts to stabilize its financial position.
But its channel chiefs have been adamant that Avaya is investing more in partners and in lucrative channel programs than ever. At its November 2011 Americas partner conference in Las Vegas, Butt and Mitchell told CRN that Avaya's focus for the new year would be urging partners to sell more of the Avaya portfolio as an architectural play and also migrating partners to a simplified, streamlined product pricing structure called the Avaya Pricing Model (APM) expected to hit the U.S. by the end of 2012.
"The customers have greater expectations and we've got the solutions to fulfill those expectations," said Butt in a November discussion with CRN on Avaya's full-portfolio focus. "Between us and the market trends, partners are naturally moving in that direction but many need help moving in that direction."
Avaya is also focused on recruiting net-new partners following its purge of about 1,000 underperforming VARs and integrators in the past year.
Avaya saw frequent executive turnover during Butt's tenure. Mitchell, a former Cisco channel chief, joined Avaya in an advisory role in 2010 and took over the worldwide go-to-market strategy a year later. Earlier in 2011, Avaya's former U.S. channel chief exited, and the company has also had its share of VP-and-higher level departures and additions throughout that timeline.
Mitchell emphasized that Butt's exit would not portend another massive reorganization of Avaya's channel team.
"This is not some kind of purge or a precursor of substantial change," Mitchell said Thursday.