Avaya Launches Direct Attack on Cisco With RADVISION Buy

By Kelly Teal Comments
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In a direct sortie on Cisco Systems' TelePresence market share, Avaya on Thursday bought RADVISION, a deal that one exec said takes video "out of the country club."

That's because the interoperable RADVISION and Avaya platforms extend to every user in a company, rather than being limited to office bigwigs. Plus, the RADVISION technology goes beyond the desktop to mobile devices, including those running Google and Apple operating systems.

All of this means RADVISION and Avaya partners will sell the Avaya Aura unified communications (UC) products complete with video.

"This model will help [partners] support the masses better, because the way video's been teed up by our competitors is that it's an exclusive play for the haves and a big division for the have nots," said Hugh McCullen, Avaya's senior director for video business development and strategic alliances. "The differentiation here is the parity in video."

To be sure, Avaya resellers and integrators were able to offer video as a bolt-on to Aura, through the LifeSize partnership. But now, they may offer a total, inclusive package, said Nick Francis, vice president, global sales and marketing, video collaboration for Avaya. "They're going to have a choice. What they do with that choice is going to be key," said Francis.

In other words, partners specializing in UC have the opportunity to become video experts, as well, and create new revenue for themselves. Putting mobility in the mix creates extra oopmh because it takes video collaboration "to where the customer really is – that's what's important to them," McCullen said.

Avaya is counting on video's momentum. Recall that the company plans, once again, to go public. Avaya's ability to compete head-on with Cisco TelePresence – which costs more and doesn't always reach throughout the enterprise – stands to strengthen investors' confidence. And, at the same time, if partners are enthusiastic about, and actively selling, Aura with video, shareholder buy-in to the Avaya IPO seems only likely to increase.

Meanwhile, Avaya plans to incorporate RADVISION partners into its program right away, and start training existing partners on video. Francis and McCullen could share few integration details because the RADVISION deal was so fresh. Some points that came out, though, are that Avaya will provide tiered support to partners, as well as training and help with marketing.

"Our channel and go-to-market plan will determine [the acquisition's] success," said Francis. "Partners are extremely important to us. We plan to invest in them."

Avaya on March 15 said it will pay approximately $230 million in cash for Israel-based RADVISION. RADVISION will become an Avaya subsidiary once the deal closes in about 90 days.

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