Avaya-Skype Deals Channel Impact Vague

The strategic agreement between Avaya Inc. and Skype Inc. may provide some upside to the dealer channel, but it is sure to further Skypes foray into the business market, analysts said.

The two-phase agreement, announced Wednesday, first calls for Avaya to integrate Skype Connect with its IP solutions. In the second half of 2011, the companies will integrate UC and collaboration solutions so their respective customers can interact with each other in a common user experience.

 For Avaya partners, this sounds like a good opportunity for some additional services work. I’d like to think all the Skype proposed features (including video) will work out-of-the-box, but I’m a bit skeptical by nature,” said Steve Hilton, head of enterprise and small enterprise research for Analysys Mason. I think this will help push some additional professional services work to Avaya partners.”

Richard Dean, practice director for VDC Research, said Avaya partners may not see much of an impact until 2011 when the integrated platform is rolled out. Meanwhile, Avaya partners will feel empowered to have this combined technology at their fingertips to introduce to SMB customers,” he said.

A spokesperson for PHONE+ said that partners can expect to gain additional fees from customers from the professional services work needed to implement Skype products. However, customers will buy the products directly from Skype. As the Internet phone company announced with the debut of its Channel Partner Program earlier this month, it will not be paying commissions or discounting service for markup by indirect sales partners.

Analyst Hilton said the bigger impact of the Skype-Avaya deal is advancing Skypes plans enter the business market. I met with the head of Skype’s relatively new Enterprise group a few months ago,” Hilton said.  He has big plans to turn Skype — a residential, non-QoS focused firm — into a provider of enterprise solutions. And it’s clear he has a partnership strategy rather than a build-it-yourself strategy in mind.”

Irene Berlinsky, senior research analyst – multiplay services for IDC, agreed.  It (Skype) has made a strong push to penetrate business customers  especially SMBs  as business customers tend to pay more for its service,” she said. Overall, the deal is good news for Skype because it allows it to establish a stronger foothold among business customers.”

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