September 2010

The Avaya Nortel Effect

How does the Nortel / Avaya Merger Affect You?

By Glenn Murer, Atlantel Inc.

Avaya‘s customers and more especially those from Nortel Enterprise Solutions (NES) have been anxiously awaiting Avaya‘s corporate integration plans. The good news is Avaya IP Office and Nortel BCM will continue to be sold while Avaya further develops plans to converge these systems into their hybrid IP offering, IP Office. Avaya states it will combine Nortel features, interfaces and phones with IP Office to “create a richer solution with strong investment protection benefits”.

Avaya has quickly laid out a comprehensive investment protection plan for legacy Nortel customers ensuring six years of support following the date a system is sold. The swiftness of completing these tasks is commendable and demonstrates that Avaya‘s “Protect, Extend, Grow” strategy is not a bait and switch tactic. As announced at the Denver 2010 Global Connect Art of Evolution Conference, where for the first time Avaya and Nortel users from InAAU, INNUA and INSIGHT100 came together for official merger news, support will continue for current phones and clients, following normal lifecycles.

Rebranding of some Nortel technology is already in the works. Following are the details of Avaya‘s plans for the future:

  • Avaya IP Office and Aura products will stay in the current product lineup.
  • Nortel CS1000 will continue with at least 2 more software releases.
  • Nortel BCM will have one additional software release and will continue to be supported for 6 years.
  • Nortel Meridian Option PBX has reached its end of life.
  • Nortel I2002 and I2004 IP phones will be discontinued.
  • Series 1100 & 1200 IP telephones will continue to be manufactured and will be supported by Avaya Aura Session Manager and Avaya IP Office (2011).
  • Some Norstar Digital telephones will work with future IP Office releases (2010).
  • Norstar MICS and CICS will no longer be manufactured after October 2010.

Avaya boasts of Global Market Leadership with 33% of the Unified Communications market share worldwide. Over 10 million business users leverage Avaya solutions everyday including 90% of the US Fortune 500 companies.

The competition is on their toes. Cisco and Siemens bid for Nortel NES last year only to be outbid by Avaya. The new combined Avaya / Nortel with its 20,000 worldwide employees and over 10,000 channel partners will be a force to be reckoned with. The post-merger Avaya will likely be better suited for a long term battle with Cisco Worldwide with the opportunity to increase their North American market share.

With the combined strengths of Avaya and Nortel, the new Avaya should be a compelling force never before seen in the telecom Industry. Collectively, they have a large and loyal customer base with a strong channel centric go-to-market model. With added expertise and the ability to increase investment, innovation announcements are expected to be forthcoming at an accelerated rate. Expect to see a model for growth including improved sales productivity, more market and product coverage and a promise of improved Customer Satisfaction. They are also planning on making SIP a core component of their new business model through their product line Aura Telephony Systems.

How does this directly affect you?

New but discontinued items will continue to be available through many suppliers who have stockpiled product, extending availability for several months after the last manufacture date. If history repeats, secondary market suppliers will meet all of the needs of end-users by providing discontinued items with refurbished gear. Nortel and Avaya users should not fear any lack of product availability or support. While many customers may prefer to buy new, there’s not really a sacrifice when buying refurbished gear if bought from a quality vendor. The word “refurbished” has many different interpretations with quality variations from reseller to reseller so find one you know and trust. Warranty and technical support are almost always a factor in the price you’ll pay. Bargain suppliers generally offer little or no support along with inferior warranties. Atlantel will continue to refurbish, sell, repair and technically support these discontinued Avaya and Nortel products for many years to come. With 19 years history as an industry leader, we’ll be there for you.

Food for Thought . . .

Over the past decade, Nortel has manufactured products superior to Avaya in both reliability and quality. Many readers will recall major issues with certain Partner ACS control unit releases as well as the Partner Series II telephones plagued with a switch-hook problem. Nortel sets are more rugged, look and feel more substantial and are considered bulletproof by many. Avaya sets, while somewhat flimsy, are better styled with a more appealing ergonomic design. Let’s hope Avaya‘s design team uses Nortel‘s manufacturing resources. Let’s also hope for more user-friendly functionality. As a user on a BCM 400, it’s frustrating when, while on a call and another comes in, the caller ID shows the new caller ID for a few seconds and then reverts to display the original caller’s ID, as if I again need to be shown with whom I am speaking. It’s dozens of little conveniences like these, or the lack thereof, that makes a system well-loved or much-disliked. For Avaya to maintain market share long-term, they would be well advised to apply common sense when designing features and also to understand the way users access and interface these features. Focus groups comprised of Avaya / Nortel salespeople and installers along with business owners could no doubt provide invaluable feedback – because engineers don’t always think like the rest of us. Avaya, why don’t you “reach out and touch someone”. You’ll be rewarded with the feedback.

Glenn Murer is the owner of Atlantel, Inc.