Avaya’s positioning against Cisco

It’s no secret that within Avaya’s leadership ranks there are a lot of ex-Cisco executives. The company as a whole hates talking about it; but they do address it when it comes up for discussion usually from the press.

Case in point, Avaya channel chief Tom Mitchell, who has the distinction of being the channel chief of both Avaya and Cisco.

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He became the Avaya channel chief after Jeremy Butt left the company to join distributor Westcon. A little know fact about this job transfer is that Butt and Mitchell are close friends.

The credibility question for Mitchell does not bother him, he told CDN. “I would rather help partners make more margin in this job than explore what I did at Cisco so long ago. My lens is only based on the market today. I have a lot of respect for Cisco and my respect is equally the same for Motorola where I worked for close to 10 years,” he said.

At the recently concluded Avaya Americas International Conference in Cancun, Mex. Mitchell sat down with CDN and talked about how well positioned Avaya is today with Cisco and other rivals.

For example, Mitchell advised the more than 400 solution providers in attendance to forego the big elephant hunt and concentrate on hitting singles and doubles; to use a baseball analogy.

Mitchell said Avaya now has the product portfolio to take share away from rivals. “We can now go toe-to-toe especially with the products we have. For the channel they should sell as a platform. Sell everything not just one thing,” he said.

One of the biggest new areas comes from the newly acquired RADvision. Mitchell said that RADvision is very simple product tailored for a mass market with low bandwidth and high definition features. “We are going to be careful with this in how we advance channel partners on it but we are off to a great start. With RADvision solution providers can hit those singles and doubles,” Mitchell said.

The mid-market is 100 per cent channel focused and the margins have been made favourable to solution providers in this area, Mitchell said.

Mitchell pegged the mid-market as an $8.8 billion opportunity. He believes the market is very fragmented and ripe for taking share away. He commented that Cisco products for this sector are too complex and solution providers have to compete with up to 20 partners for these deals.

Another area of opportunity is the legacy Nortel base which has more than 10,000 what he called “warm leads”. “We did not have a favourable product until now. Do not be a prisoner of the past. Start to focus on the now,” he said.

Mitchell said that he wants to continue to lean on distributors especially value-added distributors to support Avaya in its new direction. He added that distributors are vital for on-boarding new partners and training them. “They are much more to us that a place where solution providers can get a price and some credit, but we do expect more from them,” he added.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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