Avaya, Partners See Midmarket Momentum With IP Office 8.1


Avaya is the first to admit it was late to the midmarket game, but according to Brian Murray, Avaya's vice president of SME sales, that's all a thing of the past.

"Why is the midmarket so important to Avaya and so important to our business? There's really a very simple answer to that: It's an $8 billion-plus market," said Murray. "And quite frankly, a year ago, we did not serve that market well."

Murray, speaking to a crowd of nearly 200 solution providers at this week's Catalyst Telecom conference in Savannah, Ga., attributed Avaya's lateness to the midmarket largely to its IP Office unified communications suite being -- up until last year, at least --too narrowly focused on smaller organizations. Prior to the launch of IP Office 8.1 last July, IP Office had a single-site user capacity of 384 users.

[Related: Avaya Details Rollout Plans For One Source Partner Portal]

With the launch of IP Office 8.1, however, the software can scale out to support up to 1,000 users, an update meant to broaden its appeal to midsized customers. According to Murray, upping the user capacity for IP Office has paid off, with sales of IP Office 8.1 -- particularly for the Server Edition, which doesn't require any proprietary Avaya hardware to run -- taking off.

"Thanks to this room, we have been doubling our [IP Office] Server Edition volume every quarter," Murray told solution providers.

Karl Soderlund, vice president, Americas Channel Sales at Avaya, echoed Murray's message in an interview with CRN, admitting that, up until IP Office version 8.1, Avaya didn't have a solid strategy around the midmarket space. He noted that Avaya's Aura Communication Manager product for UC was targeted more at the enterprise, while IP Office, particularly in its early days, was really focused on shops with 250 or fewer users, but there was nothing for customers that fell in the middle of the two.

"It wasn't even that we didn't have the best rep [in the midmarket]. We had a product line gap," Soderlund said. "Traditionally, IP Office went to up 250 users and then Communication Manager went down to 1,000 users. So that 250-user to a 1,000-user was a gap for us, and that's really where companies like ShoreTel thrived."

Also like Murray, Soderlund referred to IP Office 8.1, and particularly Server Edition, as being one of Avaya's fastest-growing product lines across the globe. "It's taken off like a rocket," Soderlund said.

Ed Dolan, executive vice president of DJJ Technologies, an Islandia, N.Y.-based solution provider, called IP Office 8.1 a "game changer," and said he's been winning midsized accounts that wouldn't have been possible without the increased user capacity.

"We truly have a midmarket offer that is feature rich and cost effective," Dolan said. "We just won an 800-user IP Office [deal] that would have been impossible in the past."

Bill Xydias, director of marketing at Integration Partners, a Lexington, Mass.-based solution provider, agreed that the latest version of IP Office allows his company to target a broader base of customers than earlier versions of the software.

Xydias said the earlier, SMB-focused versions of IP Office didn't fit the go-to-market strategy for Integration Partners, which focuses largely on the enterprise space.

"Now that IP Office [8.1] has grown with functionality and capacity, and its pricing plays well in the midmarket, it's very compelling," Xydias said. "For a customer that may fall into this medium-sized space, it's a homerun."

Xydias emphasized that it's not just the additional user capacity of IP Office 8.1 that makes it a better fit for Integration Partners; it's the enhanced functionality, as well. Unlike prior versions of the software, IP Office 8.1 offers integration with Avaya's Scopia video platform, more robust security features, and other enhancements that make it synch well with Integration Partners' traditional customer base.

"It's really just in a different league now," Xydias said.

PUBLISHED MAY 17, 2013