Catalyst Telecom Pens OEM Deal With EMC For EMC-Avaya IP Office Bundles

Catalyst Telecom announced Wednesday a new OEM partnership with storage giant EMC, through which Catalyst Telecom will bundle EMC storage with Avaya's IP Office unified communications suite and offer the bundled solution through the channel.

Catalyst Telecom said its new partnership with EMC, which was announced at the company's Advantage 2013 partner conference taking place this week in Savannah, Ga., will be a game changer for partners, arming them with the storage play so many of its IP Office users have been looking for.

"We're the biggest seller of [IP Office] in the world. We were selling on the order of 10,000 units a year. And, out of those, about 30 percent -- or 3,000 of them -- required storage," said Mike Ferney, vice president of merchandising at Catalyst Telecom, a business unit of distributor ScanSource. "So when our team would say 'here's the solution, here's what you need, here's the Avaya part of it, now go buy storage,' there was a hole."

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Ferney, in an interview with CRN, said that need for storage will likely grow with the launch of IP Office 8.1., Avaya's latest version of the product. Unlike prior versions of IP Office, which could only scale up to 250 users, IP Office 8.1 can support up to 1,000 users, a feature that will ultimately create more data and, effectively, a greater need for enterprise-grade storage.

Additionally, more and more contact centers are recording and reporting on their customer-facing conversations, Ferney said, which also generates more data and requires a more robust storage solution.

Through its new partnership, Catalyst Telecom is specifically bundling Avaya's IP Office with either EMC's VNX or VNXe unified storage solutions. Catalyst Telecom partners will not need to be certified EMC partners to sell the bundled IP Office solution, Ferney said. They can, however, tap into Catalyst Telecom's sales training initiatives and participate in a pilot program for the bundled product, if they are interested in selling it.

Gary Klik, managing partner at Professional Network Services, a Roanoke, Va.-based solution provider, described the bundled IP Office and EMC solution as a more "niche" offering he could take to his call center clients, or those with intense regulatory requirements that need to be especially diligent about reporting.

"I'm thinking it's more for higher-end users," said Klik, who has been selling Avaya's IP Office solution since 2001. "If there is either a legal or archiving requirement, this could fill that niche."

NEXT: EMC's Relationship With Avaya, Catalyst Telecom

For Avaya's part, the bundling of IP Office with EMC's VNX solution isn't the first of its ties to the storage giant. Avaya in April came to market with its new Collaboration Pod, a bundled solution set consisting of Avaya's UC technologies, EMC's VNX 5300 unified storage array and VMware's vSphere ESXi 5.0 compute servers.

Karl Soderlund, vice president, Americas Channel Sales at Avaya, said the OEM partnership between EMC and Catalyst Telecom for IP Office is ideal for traditional voice solution providers looking to get into the storage space, since many of them already work with Catalyst, Avaya's largest distributor partner.

"Many of our traditional voice partners, as they look to get complementary technologies, a very logical complementary technology is storage," Soderlund said. "And this still allows Catalyst to be their distributor of choice and to sell a whole array of products."

Catalyst Telecom emphasized that its new OEM relationship with EMC is unique from the traditional vendor-distributor relationship it has with vendors such as Avaya or Aruba Networks. Catalyst's Ferney, however, didn't rule out the possibility of pursuing a distributor relationship with EMC down the road.

"That's not on the table today, ... but we certainly view them as the kind of partner we'd love to work with," Ferney said.

Ferney also said Catalyst Telecom would consider bundling EMC's VNX or VNXe solution with other voice solutions it offers, including those from ShoreTel. Products from Aruba Networks and Extreme Networks are also in the running, Ferney said, as are products residing in other ScanSource business units outside of Catalyst Telecom.

"Possibly before the year is out, but certainly within the next 12 months, we will be releasing additional solutions," Ferney said."