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Avaya partners said the company still has an upward climb when it comes to growing its data networking business, but that the story has improved a bit every year.
"Avaya's put some good programs in place and trying to get the right support here. It's not the type of thing where we can go into a Cisco environment and say 'change your network.' Replacing a Cisco network is not our game," said John DeLozier, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Arrow S3, the Irving, Texas-based solution provider business of distributor Arrow. "We have to play at the edge and position it that way. You can sell them on that and then say 'You're going to need a switch, you're going to need a router and why would we leave you with an incomplete solution?'"
Dan Ferguson, president and CEO of AdvanTel Networks, a San Jose, Calif.-based solution provider, said AdvanTel is seeing a slowly increasing attach rate on data sales.
"You're not going to go in and be able to do a net-new rip-and-replace of a Cisco environment, but there is more of an opportunity there than there was five or six years ago," Ferguson said. "Cisco is not getting the automatic nod they used to."
Avaya's gotten stronger on messaging, partners said, particularly on how they see UC and CC sales as a pathway to attaching data and why the technologies working together, all from Avaya, make more sense for customers.
"Education is such a key piece of it," said Ed Dolan, executive vice president of DJJ Technologies, an Islandia, N.Y.-based solution provider. "The transition for the [Avaya] attach is a lot easier for us now, instead of just selling the Adtrans and the Extremes to get there."
"We need data to be part of a total solutions approach," said Steve Leidholdt, president and CEO of STL Communications, a St. Louis-based solution provider. "We'd approach it not as a lead product but a part of a solutions package offer that we make to the client."
Avaya's Mitchell predicted that in the next year, data networking would be a compelling story for Avaya, particularly with partners adding technologies such as Radvision video that necessitate a more efficient underlying infrastructure for customers.
"You're going to see those attach rates go way up," Mitchell said. "It's a flanking strategy, not a frontal assault to Cisco. Within our business envelope, it's a terrific win for us for the partner and customer."