In my discussions with Kevin Kennedy (President & CEO), Joel Hackney (Senior Vice President & President, Government and Data Solutions) and other Avaya executives over the past 12 months, the need to keep customers informed about their options, and to equip partners with the capabilities to serve those customers has been a paramount concern. When Avaya won the bidding to acquire Nortel’s Enterprise business, the company promised that they would make their product road map public 30 days after closing and today they are making good on that promise under the banner of “Protect, Extend, and Grow.” Avaya and Nortel heritage customers can now start to plan their future architectures with a little less uncertainty. Other vendors in the UC space should take note of the customer first mind set Avaya is bringing to the process to move the company into the future.
- Avaya is committed to delivering open communications services into business infrastructure to maximize the flexibility their customers will have in protecting and extending their existing UC investments, and growing their deployments. Leveraging Avaya’s scope and scale, Kevin Kennedy and Dr. Alan Baratz (Senior Vice President & President, Global Communications Solutions ) told me that they are committing the company to SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) standards, programming interfaces from their Agile Communications Environment (ACE), and network harmonization based on the Avaya Aura Architecture. Avaya has laid out a series of solution migration roadmaps to help customers evolve their deployments and has armed the sales force and channels with those roadmaps.
- There are changes to the product portfolio that will require customers to change their plans in many cases. Alan Baratz told me that few products will go 'end of sale' in 2010 – CS1K-M, MCS 5100, and Nortel Predictive Dialer – – and Avaya is designing services to help customers adjust their deployments. For other products an integration will occur. For example, Nortel CallPilot and Avaya Modular Messaging, according to Linda Dotts (VP of UC Product Marketing), will be brought together into a single product offering over the next twelve to eighteen months – while maintaining full support. For still others, there are Avaya playbooks to gracefully migrate to products that will be supported long term – like migrating from Meridian PBXs to CS 1000 and eventually to an Infrastructure built on Avaya Aura Architecture. In all cases Avaya support for their products will extend at least three years beyond end of sale.
- Todd Abbott (Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing and President, Field Marketing) has led a series of sales force initiatives leading Avaya to be able to offer a rich set of services to assist system owners from purchase decision through operation – and those services will be offered both directly and through channel partners. Chris Formant (Senior Vice President & President, Avaya Global Services)tells me that Avaya will continue to take pains to leverage services to prevent these migrations from being an incremental financial burden to systems owners, and to balance customer and Avaya needs with the market imperative to provide their channel partners the opportunity to protect and grow their business.
As Avaya customers look further into the future, there are many changes coming across the roadmap, and Avaya is attempting to not alienate customers by prematurely announcing end of life scheduling. Businesses are left with some uncertainty about the exact timing of the future evolutions of their Unified Communications infrastructure, but Avaya is making it clear that they are committed to simplifying that evolution process. I will be watching Avaya execute (the key characteristic Kevin Kennedy wants and needs from his company) this year — and wonder to what extent customers and partners believe Avaya’s stated commitment to protect, extend and grow their UC&C solutions?
For any Avaya and Nortel customers – especially one of the over 21,000 registered attendees to today's virtual roadmap announcement event – I am interested to hear your reaction to Avaya’s announcement – reply below or e-mail me directly at HDewing@Forrester.com.