Page 6 of 6
One of the big questions following the Nortel acquisition was how Avaya would take Nortel's data networking portfolio to market. Avaya invested heavily in the products and frameworks, including VENA, which is intended to address the virtualized converged networking and data center challenge.
But one Avaya executive who asked not to be named said that as of September, fewer than one-third of Avaya's IP networking and UC partners sell Avaya data networking and that percentage hasn't changed much in the past year.
Some of Avaya's recent data networking moves have been about evangelism. In January, Randall, for example, was brought in to run the newly named Avaya Networking business. Another move was a program called Networking Angels, in which Avaya provides staff experts to solution providers to help come up with data networking sales strategies and generally connect the dots on how to tie Avaya data in with the UC or CC sale.
Still another move was the recent launch of Avaya Collaboration Pods, which tie Avaya wares with EMC and VMware products in converged infrastructure frameworks, similar to the reference architecture approaches favored by data center-focused networking vendors like Cisco, HP and Brocade.
Many partners feel that little has helped Avaya's data networking traction, however.
"They're giving it away in some cases," said one Avaya partner, referencing a recent promotion that packages Avaya PoE switches with UC phone purchases. "It's just not something they've been able to make work and not something we're spending time with."
Another major product transition for Avaya is in videoconferencing, where it has previously partnered, but, thanks to the $230 million acquisition of Radvision this spring, it now has an in-house option for tying video to UC sales. In October, Avaya opened up sales of Radvision Scopia video products to its broader channel, and Scopia authorization for all qualified Avaya Connect partners is expected to be available by January.
It's one more move by Avaya toward a "stack," versus ecosystem partner, approach to a growing area of the market.
"They used to be everyone's friend," ZK Research's Kerravala said. "But with the video, Polycom is no longer a friend. With data networking and compute, Extreme and Brocade/Foundry are no longer friends. More and more Avaya is starting to look like Cisco, with an increasingly larger pallet of stuff. Avaya hasn't yet proven it can do it, though. Can they find a way to make one plus one equal four, or are they wrong to cut off partners?"
What Radvision does is put Avaya partners in an uneasy position with other, far-more established videoconferencing vendors. Many, like Carousel Industries, already have established video practices, particularly with former Avaya strategic allies like Polycom.
"Radvision will be part of our solution mix," Carousel's Marsh said. "Polycom understands that we have a significant investment and relationship in Avaya, and vice versa. There are certain situations where each makes sense, so our job is to lead with the right one."
"We have lots of runway on this," Avaya's Soderlund said. "Video is all about the user experience and not having to deal with infrastructure every time you want to make a call. The early reception on Scopia from our partners has been 'let's get to know it.' "
A final area where Avaya will be tested is in cloud. Avaya has been perceived as slow to market with a partner-centric cloud strategy, but more elements of that strategy have come to light in the last few months, and Avaya is pushing behind them aggressively.
Back in the spring, Avaya made a series of announcements around a concept it calls Collaborative Cloud, including a suite of public cloud-delivered communications services called AvayaLive. Those services include AvayaLive Connect, an all-in-one UC offering for small businesses, powered through Level 3 Communications, and including an affiliate program for solution providers that want to refer business Avaya's way.
Partners are likely to hear more about those efforts at this week's conference, too.
"It's hard to get people to agree on an approach," Avaya's Mitchell said of the company's cloud efforts. "Everyone wants to figure out how to monetize the cloud, and the problem is every vendor customers look at, a lot of them can't definitely tell you they'll be in business in three years. A lot of these guys are one outage away from being completely wiped off the map. So you have to be thoughtful in how you do this."