Avaya Down Two Top Channel Execs

Avaya Wednesday confirmed a number of shake-ups to its executive channel team, including the departure of worldwide channel Chief John Spiliotis, along with the upcoming departure of Tom Mitchell, senior vice president of Global Sales.

Spiliotis, Avaya confirmed, has already jumped ship to firewall startup Palo Alto Networks, where, according to his LinkedIn profile, he took a role as vice president of Palo Alto's Americas Sales.

Mitchell, for his part, told CRN in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he is resigning on Sept. 30, the end of Avaya's fiscal year, but that he hasn't lined up a new role yet. "I haven't even looked," he said. "My level of commitment [to Avaya] has been very, very complete."

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Mitchell is handing over all responsibilities to Pierre-Paul Allard, formerly Avaya's senior vice president of global strategy and development. Mitchell stressed that his leaving Avaya was always in the cards, having first joined the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company in 2010 under an agreement whereby he would offer channel-related consulting services on a near-term basis only.

"It started out as a short engagement to turn around some things in the channel, and it was supposed to be six months," Mitchell said. "It turned out to be three, three-and-a-half years."

Mitchell added that now seemed like a "good time" for him to turn the reigns over to Allard, given the recent progress of Avaya in the channel.

"I'm very pleased with what we have done over the past years with the partner community and the go-to-market [strategy] and the midmarket, and so on," Mitchell said. "I'm comfortable with the work we've done and, again, it's a great time to pass it over."

Though some Avaya partners may argue the UC vendor still faces its fair shares of challenges, Avaya has thrown much more of its weight behind the channel with Mitchell at the helm. Roughly 80 percent of Avaya's sales today run through the channel, and the company has taken steps to make both itself and its product portfolio more navigable for partners. Avaya has started, for instance, the rollout of One Source, a revamped partner portal that consolidates quoting and pricing details for Avaya's entire product portfolio, making it easier for partners to complete orders on not only legacy Avaya products, but those it came into through its acquisitions of Radvision and Nortel.

Mitchell also stressed that the Avaya channel will be in good hands with Allard, who's been with Avaya for about 13 months and, before that, had a 19-year run at Cisco, where he most recently was vice president of sales of operations, global enterprise. Prior to Cisco, Allard spend 11 years at IBM.

NEXT: Integrating Avaya's Strategy, Marketing And Sales

When he moves into his new role come September, Avaya's Allard said he will aim to drive more integration between the company's strategy, marketing and sales organizations, while also developing a deeper understanding of Avaya's customer base within both internal and indirect sales teams.

"Think of very customer-centric or customer-focused endeavors, transforming us from products to solutions from a much deeper understanding of each one of our customer segments," Allard said.

Lining up a replacement for Spiliotis is also on his list, Allard said.

Greg Forrest, president of the U.S. theater for global solution provider AGC Networks, said he was surprised to hear of Mitchell's departure, but that he doesn't expect the move to have any immediate impact on his Avaya business.

"Where we have found success is through the [Avaya] relationships that are probably a little bit more tactical so I don't see this change being material to our business," Forrest said. "It's a leadership change. The business goes on."

Michael Cassady, director of operations at The Via Group, a Woodlands, Texas-based Avaya partner, agreed with Forrest, and noted the recent strength he's seen in his Avaya business.

"A lot of customers are continuing to stay on the Avaya platform and upgrade the Avaya platform," Cassady said. "From our standpoint, they are still an important manufacturer and telephony platform for us."