Avaya Data Networking Chief: Full Speed Ahead

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Avaya's new data networking chief has a firm prediction: the growth of Avaya's data networking business will double in the next two years.

The opportunity for Avaya and Nortel solution providers is vast, said Steve Bandrowczak, and Nortel's former data business -- the stability of which was questioned at the time of Avaya's acquisition of Nortel's enterprise unit -- is alive, well, and ready to prosper.

Before the acquisition, the data business in 2009 was down nearly 40 percent for Nortel, Bandrowczak said. But because capital budgets were tight and the economy was bad, there was not much rip-and-replace going on, either -- ergo, a Nortel installed base left largely untouched.

"Our first message is: we have a tremendous, loyal, very large installed base," said Bandrowczak, whose title is vice president and general manager, Avaya Data Solutions. "We have that base under a stable set of financial conditions now and we are back on the growth path."

Consider, he said, that the Nortel data business was on a run rate of $1 billion fewer than 10 quarters ago. It's at about $500 million now, and Bandrowczak promised a doubling within the next 8 quarters.

A longtime data networking executive with SVP and CIO-level stints at Nortel, Lenovo, IBM and Avnet on his resume, Bandrowczak joined Avaya as part of the Nortel acquisition, and was named head of its data business in June, after Joel Hackney, previously Nortel's enterprise boss and then Avaya's data networking and government solutions chief, became senior vice president of sales and marketing and president, field operations.

The data business is one of the most closely watched pieces in an ongoing Avaya-Nortel integration that has no shortage of subplots. Bandrowczak's new role, for example, is part of a wave of executive changes in the past several months, which saw the departure of Hackney's predecessor, Todd Abbott, and shifts among the heads of Avaya's government and services businesses.

Like Bandrowczak, Hackney, too, is spending much of his time reassuring Avaya partners that the company's ambitious channel and product roadmaps remain on track. Carol Neslund, vice president, North American Channel, has also been telling news outlets that Avaya recruited all of the partners it had targeted at the Platinum and Gold levels, and then some.

And all the while, Avaya and Nortel solution providers have seen plenty of consolidation -- especially among larger partners -- as two formerly competitive channels find themselves on the same side of the fence.


Next: Challenges For Avaya's Data Portfolio

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