Avaya Channel Chief Promoted To Run Global Sales

Reached by CRN Friday, Mitchell said he will be in charge of all of Avaya's direct and indirect sales efforts as senior vice president, global sales.

Joel Hackney, the former Nortel enterprise president who'd been senior vice president of sales and marketing since 2010, will be moving into a new role running Avaya's cloud strategy as senior vice president and general manager, cloud solutions.

[Related: Avaya's Americas Conference: 10 Key Takeaways ]

Mitchell, who was Cisco's first well-known channel chief in the early 2000s and has worked at or consulted for most of the major IT networking vendors in a channel capacity over the years, said the move will heighten the profile of Avaya's channel that much more. He reports to Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy.

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"I think if you are an Avaya partner, this is a great thing," said Mitchell, whose most recent title was senior vice president and president, Go-To-Market. "I know the partner community, and I've been intimately involved with it. One of the best things for customers is when an organization can commit to having that tighter sales alignment."

Avaya has worked diligently to streamline its channel go-to-market strategy following its 2009 acquisition of Nortel's former enterprise unit. According to Mitchell, Avaya now sells 75 percent indirect, and it continues to try to incent partners to broaden their Avaya practices past traditional Avaya strongholds like VoIP and UC and into data networking and also the video products it acquired with Radvision.

Avaya's also sought to remove the direct-indirect conflict that was a staple of the Avaya channel in the past. During Avaya's Americas Executive Partner Forum in Mexico in November, John DiLullo, vice president of Americas sales, told partners that Avaya was more focused than ever on aligning its sales teams to the needs of the partners.

"We keep close track of areas of conflict, and in our most recent numbers, ten out of ten [sales] conflicts that were escalated to John's level went to the partner," Mitchell said. "This is very important for us."

DiLullo, along with other Avaya vice presidents like Karl Soderlund and John Spilliotis, will come under Mitchell's organizational chart. Mitchell, who joined Avaya in a consulting role three years ago, said he does not expect major additional changes to the current channel team.

As for Hackney's newly created role, Mitchell said that Avaya's executive team by now has enough cloud products, services and strategic priorities that a day-to-day leader is needed for the whole approach.

"We have to look at cloud now as a field," Mitchell said. "That's now been put into action."

Avaya appears to be calming down -- and winning back skeptical partners -- after a year of heavy executive turnover and restructuring. It has still not yet followed-up on previous plans for an initial public offering (IPO), whose Form S-1 prospectus Avaya filed back in June 2011.