Channel: Avaya Deauthorizing Ingram Micro No Big Surprise

Avaya on Tuesday confirmed to that it would cut Ingram Micro from its list of U.S. distributors. Ingram first became an Avaya distributor in December when Avaya completed its $915 million acquisition of Nortel's enterprise business.

Ingram's fulfillment of Avaya orders will continue through June 30, Ingram Micro confirmed, after which it becomes a distributor for Avaya in Canada only.

Meanwhile, Avaya's distributors in the U.S. going forward will be Catalyst Telecom, Westcon Group, Jenne and Tech Data.

"This mix will provide our partners with streamlined access to the value-add capabilities and tools that these distribution partners can deliver with maximum efficiencies," said Avaya in an e-mailed statement Tuesday.

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Avaya declined additional comment on its new distribution strategy, except to confirm that Ingram fulfillment in the U.S. will last through June 30.

To Avaya and former Nortel VARs, the decision could create some consternation for solution providers with existing Ingram Micro relationships. But several said it wasn't a surprise considering that Avaya never signaled it would hang on to everyone.

"I think they [Avaya] didn't want to dilute the channel too much, and also wanted to be respectful of the channels already in play," said Stuart Chandler, president and CEO of Optivor Technologies, an Ellicott City, Md.-based solution provider. "If you bring in both Tech Data and Ingram Micro, you might risk alienating Catalyst, Jenne and Westcon, who have all made investments in the Avaya brand, saying, 'Hey, why did I do that?' The distributors have to make money, you don't want to overpopulate them."

To Chandler, Tech Data likely got the nod over Ingram for U.S. distribution because its relationships with the Nortel channel are longer and deeper.

"Historically, Tech Data did a lot more with Nortel. Ingram was ramping up and doing more, but that kind of came only in the last year and a half," he said. "Ingram's presence in the Nortel food chain was growing, but Tech Data had those relationships gelled. If it were up to me, I'd love to see them both play. I like both of those organizations and we buy from both."

Tech Data did not respond to requests for comment.

Other channel observers questioned whether Avaya's choice to cut Ingram Micro is also a competitive move against Cisco and Juniper, both of whom have strong ties to Ingram. (Juniper and Avaya, though longtime strategic partners in some areas, are considered in closer competition now that Avaya owns the former Nortel data portfolio.)

One solution provider suggested that competition is certainly not "the main reason, but not out of the conversation."

"Look at it as a way for them [Avaya] to compete better, with fewer disties, which as we all know is what they wanted," said the solution provider, who asked not to be identified.

Ingram Micro could not be reached for additional comment Wednesday.

Optivor's Chandler said that Ingram Micro's deauthorization doesn't necessarily mean a big influx of Avaya business to rival Tech Data.

Catalyst Telecom, for example, stands to benefit just as much in the short term, he suggested, because of its longstanding relationship with Avaya. So does Westcon, which carried both vendors before the acquisition.

"We learned not to have all our eggs in one basket," Chandler explained. "Tech Data is new to the Avaya brand, and Catalyst has a solid history with them [Avaya]. On the data portion, Tech Data is well ahead of where a Catalyst is, and they'll both be up to speed on Avaya at some point. We plan to work with both distributors because they both offer unique advantages for Optivor."

Both Chandler and the above-referenced solution provider work with Ingram Micro, and both said that they'd already heard from Tech Data and Catalyst about exploring new business opportunities.

For its part, Westcon has been recruiting solution providers through RapidRamp, a new program, announced March 1, to help Avaya and Nortel VARs familiarize themselves with the combined portfolio.

Elsewhere, Catalyst Telecom has kicked off its distribution of Avaya NES, the former Nortel voice and data portfolio, which it formally announced Wednesday.

"Our strong relationship with Avaya and our extensive technical and sales experience in the voice and data networking space ensure that our resellers will receive the value-added services and support they need to effectively grow and market their Avaya NES solutions," said John Black, president of Catalyst Telecom, in a statement.