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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.”

What It Means for Partners

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.