Former Avaya Exec To Head Voda One

There's a great opportunity on the Avaya platform for solution providers to move beyond voice solutions, said Steve Bernard, recently named to head Voda One, Westcon Group's Avaya-focused business unit.

Westcon Group's Comstor (Cisco Systems) and Westcon (Nortel Networks) business units have a longer legacy selling convergence and security solutions. Bernard is tasked with helping Voda One build up that expertise among its Avaya solution providers.

"Avaya is trying to transform business partners to get them more comfortable in the world of convergence solutions. I saw what Westcon [Group] was doing with regard to solutions practices and felt that if we can leverage those solution practices into Voda One, we could accelerate the transformation of Avaya resellers," Bernard said.

Voda One will help solution providers build a convergence or security-focused practice themselves or look to partner Avaya resellers with convergence or security VARs not competing for the same business, according to Bernard.

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"The value that a voice reseller has, regardless of vendor, is that he knows the applications better. But in a VoIP world, you have to be concerned about the quality of service, security and network management. You have to broaden your expertise, either by building your own or looking to team. That's the advantage Voda One has, how we enable [solution providers] to be more successful," he said.

Bernard joined Voda One after serving as Avaya's national account manager on the Voda One relationship. He said he jumped the fence to Voda One because he could better enhance the distributor's programs as an employee rather than as a vendor partner.

"In my last discussions with [Westcon Group CEO] Tom Dolan, he asked why I wanted to leave Avaya. I didn't want to, but I saw great opportunity, great upside, and I could better execute and enable from this side," Bernard said.

"Voda One resellers do carry switching vendors and some have routing expertise, but in general, Avaya resellers are more voice-centric," he added. "There are very few that have a comprehensive security practice. They're all transforming to become total solutions providers. I think we need to accelerate that."

Bernard is the first general manager for Voda One since Jack Friedman left in 2003. Rob Linder has been running the business unit as vice president of sales, according to Westcon Group.