Avaya Talks Up Networking, Midmarket Opportunities In Partner Road Show

Through a string of acquisitions over the past three years, Avaya has sought to transform itself from a UC vendor into a one-stop-shop for video, data networking and voice. And while not all of its roughly 9,000 authorized global partners may have taken the same leap, Avaya considers those partners who have to be the most successful and well positioned for growth.

"I think if I had to pick two things [that make partners successful], it's a focus on growth and expanding their business. They're not happy with the status quo," said Karl Soderlund, vice president, Americas Channel Sales at Avaya. "And point two would be a comfort looking at new technologies."

Soderlund said this second point was a running theme throughout Avaya's latest partner road show, which concluded this week and attracted more than 800 Avaya partners from around the U.S. The show consisted of four Avaya Partner Connection Days -- one in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and St. Paul, Minn. -- and was designed to give partners more face time with Avaya channel executives to discuss sales strategies and product road maps.

[Related: Avaya Puts Cloud-Based Communications In Motion ]

Sponsored post

"It was just really important for us and for our executive team to get out there in front of our partner community, from a local standpoint, and a get a chance to speak with them," Soderlund said.

One of the biggest messages Avaya sent to partners during the road show was to the importance of complementing their voice portfolios with the data networking and video solutions Avaya came into through its 2009 acquisition of Nortel and 2012 acquisition of Radvision. On the networking side, for instance, partners were urged to position Avaya's data networking portfolio from its Nortel buy as the underpinnings of the UC or contact center solutions they are already selling.

"The messaging there was the velocity ... that we are seeing from partners that are including networking in their UC proposals, and the success that they are having out there," Soderlund said.

Soderlund said one of the biggest advantages of selling Avaya networking and video products, particularly for Avaya partners new to the technology, is that it arms them with a single point of contact for all their training and pre- and post-sales support needs.

"It's easier to [ramp up] with one company that you know the ins and outs of versus trying to go and bring on different point solutions to different point manufacturers and trying to make a coordinated training plan," Soderlund said. "We are trying to make it simple and profitable for them."

Edward Dolan, executive vice president of DJJ Technologies, an Islandia, N.Y.-based solution provider, applauded Avaya's efforts over the years to broaden its play outside of voice.

"I think that a lot of [Avaya's] competitors -- your Ciscos of the world, especially -- they were able to provide you with that complete end-to-end solution. When you dealt with Avaya, you had to piecemeal different parts together from different manufacturers," Dolan said at the Boston-based Avaya Partner Connection Day last month. "We don't have that issue anymore. It's complete end-to-end Avaya."

NEXT: Avaya Partners Jump On Midmarket, Video Opportunities

DJJ Technologies' Dolan said his company used to rely more heavily on Avaya competitors like Juniper Networks and Extreme Networks to fill out its data networking portfolio, but after Avaya's acquisition of Nortel, he looked more to Avaya to play that part.

"I didn't [sell Avaya networking] right away because I wasn't real comfortable with how it was going to work out, but ... it's been a couple of years, and Avaya seems to be putting a lot of resources behind the networking products, so we jumped on board," Dolan said. "We are reaping the benefits now of that acquisition."

Ian Pugh, vice president of sales at GSolutionz, a Ventura, Calif.-based solution provider, said his company has benefited more from Avaya's June 2012 acquisition of video conferencing specialist Radvision.

"Having an Avaya [video] product that rounds out the full UC stack is phenomenal," said Pugh, who attended the Avaya Partner Connection Day in Los Angeles. "It allows us to compete with Microsoft now, where before it was more [like] 'cross your fingers and hope that you win.'"

In addition to data and video, Avaya's Soderlund said the midmarket was another theme running throughout the company's four-city road show. Specifically, Soderlund said Avaya emphasized the traction its IP Office UC solution is seeing within small and midsized companies. Avaya's latest version of IP Office, Soderlund said, touts new features that were specifically requested by partners, including the ability to scale to up 1,000 users.

"We basically rebuilt the technology from the ground-up, with the feedback from our partner and customer community as to what they were looking for," Soderlund said.

Soderlund said the reception to IP Office to-date has been "phenomenal," with more than 500 partners selling it and more than 10 million end users leveraging it.

Jeff Gardner, CEO of Carousel Industries, an Exeter, R.I.-based solution provider, said IP Office and the midmarket, in general, has become a sweet spot within his Avaya business.

"Midmarket is a huge focus for us," Gardner told CRN at the Avaya partner event in Boston. "We were a large enterprise partner for [Avaya], but last year we experimented and created a dedicated midmarket team and that has had tremendous success with 100 percent growth year-over-year."

Looking ahead, Soderlund said Avaya hopes to extend the Avaya partner road show to eight cities or more, calling the first round of shows a "wild success." Most partners, it seems, would agree.

"I would just say that there has never been a time when I felt like Avaya has been more aligned with the partner community and has helped us push ourselves forward," said GSolutionz's Pugh.

PUBLISHED 26, 2013