Avaya Expands VAR Training Programs With Subscription Pricing Model

Avaya on Monday announced the next phase of its revamped training and certification program for VARs, offering new training programs that span the full Avaya portfolio, include the data products gained through its acquisition of Nortel's enterprise business.

According to Avaya, the new programs -- and a new subscription training model installed as a way to pay for them -- reflect partner competencies better than previous Avaya training courses, with an eye toward less time and money spent completing them.

Following the Nortel acquisition, a number of Avaya and former Nortel VARs were concerned that Avaya's training and certification would be slow to integrate and slower to reflect the combined portfolio, said Peter Polizzi, senior director for channel technical operations at Avaya.

Avaya's Connect Professional Credentials program, first announced in November 2009, allows partners to customize that training. It's consolidated the total number of Avaya certifications to 36, and according to Polizzi, has reduced the total number of hours required to complete Avaya training courses by 84 percent over previous curriculum.

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"We think this adds linearity and predictability to their business and we wanted to make sure we took any anxiety about training out of the mix," Polizzi said. "They can easily forecast their new investments from a training perspective."

One key, he explained, is the subscription pricing option that lets partners access all of the training needed for a particular certification for a single price over a period of 12 to 18 months.

That's a big difference from other training programs, Polizzi said, because VARs can buy access to training content on a time basis -- they're covered for all new product and program announcements related to that training in that 12-to-18 month span, in other words -- rather than per-product, or per-class, every time there's a product upgrade.

"The average cost of a subscription price is 75 percent less than if you totaled the commercial pricing associated with each portfolio," Polizzi said, "That's an important message: we're not a training company, we sell products, and we need to get people educated to sell our products."

Courses include product bundles that reflect different competencies. For example, there's a unified communications and unified messaging bundle, and a contact center, bundle which covers that portfolio and products from the Nortel acquisition, or a range of different netowrk design portfolio bundles.

More course options will launch throughout the year. Subscription pricing launched May 1.

Next: New SIP Architecture Certification

Elsewhere, Avaya has also expanded its training programs to include what it's calling the first network architecture certification based on session initiated protocol (SIP) architecture. The training, which is still being finalized and will debut this fall, will focus on designing communications networks around Avaya Aura, Avaya's much-touted, virtualized unified communications platform.

"It's heavily weighted toward Avaya Aura and fit-for-purpose applications that Avaya Aura enables," Polizzi said.

Overall, he said, the streamlined training and certification programs are a better reflection of the combined Avaya-Nortel channel, which includes partners with a wide range of competencies.

Polizzi said Avaya will keep coursework flexible and offer it as classroom training and virtual e-learning. Up to 10 different languages will be offered for most training courses, from English to Mandarin Chinese.

"We know partners on both sides of the fence have invested already, and we're going to protect that investment for them," Polizzi said. "Under the subscription, if you've invested in product X, product X will have updates over time, but you won't have to invest multiple times."