Channel, Product Integration Details Emerge As Avaya Closes Radvision Acquisition

When Avaya first announced its acquisition of Radvision back in March, one of the big concerns expressed by Avaya and Radvision partners was that Avaya needed to enable video partners as quickly as possible but avoid opening the floodgates for Radvision's video products to UC and telephony partners not much familiar with how to sell them.

Partners shouldn't be worried, said Hugh McCullen, Avaya senior director for business development and strategic alliances. In an interview with CRN Tuesday following an announcement that the Avaya-Radvision acquisition had closed, McCullen said Avaya will be deliberate in how it certifies partners to sell video, and it will also preserve Radvision's current system for certifying partners on Radvision video products.

"Avaya partners will be able to sell the Radvision product, but they'll have to be certified and meet the eye-to-eye partner standards that Radvision already has," McCullen said. "We're going to drive a delicate balance to make sure there is partner parity. We want to have the right partners. We don't want partners selling video who don't understand video."

[Related: Video Competitors: Avaya's Radvision Buy Disruptive For Channel]

About 300 Avaya partners are certified to sell Avaya video products and services, McCullen said, and those partners can be fast-tracked toward certification on the Radvision portfolio. Avaya has already begun contacting its global partners to encourage them to look at the Radvision wares, he explained.

In addition, Radvision partners that aren't already Avaya partners will be given the opportunity to expand their Avaya expertise into UC, CC and data if they so choose, but Avaya will not force them to do that if they want to remain Radvision video-only, McCullen explained.

"Most of them are not involved in telephony at all, and that's not an issue for us," he said. "It's an opportunity."

Avaya provided several details on how the Radvision portfolio and channel programs will be integrated into Avaya's own, now that the roughly $230 million acquisition is finished. For starters, Radvision will operate as an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Avaya and be officially titled Radvision, an Avaya company.

According to McCullen, Radvision will be considered Avaya's fourth major business unit, alongside its voice/UC business, data networking business and contact center business.

It was important to leave Radvision as a subsidiary, McCullen said, to preserve Radvision's existing R&D and go-to-market processes without interruption. That said, Avaya and Radvision will have common sales and engineering teams to assist with things like product integration between Avaya UC platforms and Radvision video.

NEXT: Avaya's Radvision Integration RoadmapRadvision's management team is intact, Avaya's McCullen said, and former Radvision CEO Boaz Raviv is now vice president and global head, Avaya Video Portfolio, Radvision, an Avaya company.

Both Radvision's technical business unit, which is its original core of engineers, and its video business unit, which includes the engineering and personnel Radvision acquired with assets from Aethra in 2010, have been preserved.

The Radvision unit reports up to Jim Chirico, Avaya executive vice president, business operations, who is based at Avaya's office in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Avaya has a detailed roadmap for the Radvision integration, according to McCullen, who shared some details of the dates and milestones with CRN.

As of the acquisition's closing, for example, Avaya and Radvision can offer interoperability between Radvision Scopia, Avaya Aura, Avaya Flare Experience, Avaya 1000 series and one-X communicator products, with integration for Avaya IP Office coming soon. Avaya non-video clients will also be able to meet on Radvision bridges, Avaya said.

Next steps will include tying the existing Radvision and Avaya hardware and software MCUs together as the two companies integrate their infrastructure. Within a month, Avaya expects to be able to offer Radvision Scopia video on Avaya Aura Communication Manager 5.2.1, and within three months, it expects to be able to extend Scopia to Avaya's SME and midmarket products, including IP Office, its flagship offering for customers with fewer than 1,000 users. Even broader interoperability, to products such as Avaya's session border controller AE and other aspects of Aura, is expected within 120 days.

Avaya, which is preparing for a much-delayed IPO and is also wrestling with ongoing executive turnover, is also beginning to train its own sales force on the Radvision portfolio, and it has already rolled out 4,000 of Radvision's Scopia desktop clients to its global sales force, McCullen said.

Radvision will go down as Avaya's most significant acquisition since it bought Nortel's former enterprise unit in 2009 and became the global leader in unified communications market share, as well as added a data networking portfolio. It's seen as a strong move for Radvision, whose video products are admired but has struggled in recent years following the loss of a lucrative OEM agreement with Cisco, which bought Tandberg for $3.3 billion in 2010.

Radvision also brings to Avaya a number of hidden assets, including a suite of voice and video developer tools called BEEHD that some partners say will fit nicely in Avaya DevConnect, Avaya's program for third-party app development.

Before the acquisition, Avaya relied largely on third-party OEM or strategic video partnerships, but now has an in-house video option to compete directly with Cisco, Polycom, LifeSize and other enterprise videoconferencing vendors. Avaya had partner agreements in place with both Polycom and LifeSize and told CRN in a previous interview that it will phase out those partnerships over time.