Avaya Inc. on Tuesday unveiled its roadmap for integrating products and services from the recently acquired Nortel Enterprise Solutions (NES). Unified communications and SIP will be the focus going forward, executives said. And, an evolving partner strategy lies at the heart of the combined company.
“Nortel and Avaya turn out to have very similar views that there must be a move away from just voice and the PBX towards more modular and real-time communications,” said Alan Baratz, senior vice president and president of global communications solutions at Avaya. “That could be voice, video and real-time data, all enabled by a new SIP architecture. That’s a critical step to finally and truly start communications-enabling business processes and systems.”
Avaya plans to launch a new slate of Nortel-Avaya integrated products this spring. Baratz added, “Our products that we bring to market, the investments we make, will be geared to develop synergies in the portfolios and there will also be an accelerated investment in wireless, that’s more and more important as time goes on.” And all of that will be placed within a partner-centric model.
“Being partner-centric is a company strategy, not just a sales strategy,” said Avaya’s Todd Abbott, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, and president of field operations. “This extends down to how we design our products.”
Avaya plans to bring Nortel’s prodigious partner organization within “industry-standard” parameters, and Avaya is fundamentally changing the structure of how Nortel partners handle software support services. Avaya is also standardizing partner-customer engagement models on a global basis.
Software support was previously offered via a “box of cases” or “umbrella” rule, which includes a fixed fee for support, regardless of complexity or the time it takes to resolve a case. “Nortel lost money on every single one of those,” said Baratz. “And it was a significant contribution to their lack of profitability.”
That model is going to be phased out over the course of the year, replaced with an annuity structure that will adequately cover the cost of services. Nortel contracts will go to covering three months instead of 12, and they can be either bundled or resold by the partner. All net new business going forward will be sold this way, but partners won’t be required to renegotiate existing contracts, only those coming up for renewal.
Avaya will also push more managed services through the partner channel “They can do multivendor implementations really well, all the way down to the desktop,” said Abbott. “We’ll give them tools, back-up support and services, and Nortel just adds more to that.”
He added, “We began a shift away from cabling and implementation – things that partners can do better and more affordably – 18 months ago. And we invested in higher-end services that partners can either bundle in or resell.”
Meanwhile, Abbott noted that both Avaya and Nortel’s services delivery capabilities were very inconsistent around the world. “We had different go-to-market plans, different regional competencies, and no follow the sun model,” he explained. “We’re consolidating all of that around Avaya’s professional services, global services and operations services for a consistent interface. Avaya will be a predictable organization.”
The vendor plans to on-board all Nortel partners to its new “Avaya Connect” channel program, beginning in April. Meanwhile, existing Avaya partners will start the program, which consolidates its existing regional channel programs into one global unit, in February. Avaya Connect takes individual product certifications – there are more than 100 of them – and streamlines them into 30 solutions certifications in four different tiers to make it easier and simpler for partners to get the expertise they need, Abbott said.
And to that point, the vendor also discussed on Tuesday how Nortel and Avaya’s legacy portfolios – near and dear to many a channel partner’s customer’s heart – will come together. Some will continue on as-is, others will be phased out, and some will be combined as Avaya executes on its plan to move from VoIP and a PBX focus to full, SIP-enabled unified communications and voice-enabled business processes.
At the center of it all is Aura, Avaya’s previously announced enterprise network integration platform, which uses SIP to connect IP infrastructures, be it communications or applications-focused. Aura will sit on top of existing Nortel or Avaya infrastructure and allow the enterprise to plug in apps on top, for “effectively managing human touchpoints,” said Baratz.
The roadmap expands the value of Avaya Aura with the addition of Avaya (formerly Nortel) Agile Communications Environment (ACE). ACE uses Service-Oriented Architecture and Web Services to facilitate the rapid development of communications-enabled applications.
In unified communications implementations, devices, be they mobile or desktop, soft or CPE, connect to the data network and the PBX. Then the Aura platform is layered on top. And then a third layer on top of Aura will wrap in applications like Salesforce.com, and services like voice and messaging.
Similarly, on the contact center side of things, rather than connecting applications with computer-telephony integration (CTI), going forward it will be done with SIP, and all communications will be conference-based. Contact centers will move to a service-oriented architecture, simultaneously supporting multiple modes of communication. The new contact center solution will be based on a new and collaborative work assignment model that will connect customers, agents and information.
The integrated roadmap will seamlessly extend the combined Avaya and Nortel Enterprise Solutions market-leading portfolio with capabilities for agent desktop, work assignment, experience management and analytics that will scale from mid-range to large contact centers.
In terms of specifics, Avaya IP Office, BCM, Norstar, PARTNER and Integral 5 all will remain on the market as-is for now, with a plan to converge the platforms to a hybrid IP offering, IP Office. Avaya will blend Nortel features, interfaces and phones with IP Office to create a richer solution with strong investment protection benefits.
The company also now offers the Avaya Software Communication System, an SIP-based offer from Nortel for small and medium enterprise customers who want to manage unified communications from their data center.
As previously announced, Avaya will adopt the current roadmap of Nortel’s data products in its entirety.
Nortel’s Communications Server 1000 for the midmarket will see a “couple more releases,” executives said, and then it will be about putting Aura on top and scaling implementations eon that side of the equation.
A raft of new products will be announced in the spring and another in the fall. “Avaya and Nortel both come from the same cultural heritage,” said Baratz. “We share a common view of the technology, as well, making it easier to quickly integrate. That’s why we were able to make this announcement only 30 days in.”
He added, “Because this acquisition was bankrupt, we could engage aggressively earlier to restructure before we took ownership. The execution of this integration will be unlike any large acquisition that has gone before [in its lack of big issues].”