How a former Nortel partner thrived following the networking vendor’s bankruptcy

San Diego, CA – In many ways, the Canadian partner presenting at Avaya’s noon-hour roundtable would prefer to keep a low profile.

And yet, it would seem that to Avaya, Ottawa-based Combat Networks is not just any partner.

With a name like theirs, it’s probably self-explanatory the type of customers the company serves, chief executive Rob Finucan said and laughed.

Its client base, he described, consists of large enterprises between 3,000 to 20,000 users, a large portion of whom are in national intelligence, correctional services, defense, and are serviced by offices in Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa and Stouffville, Ontario.

But what makes Combat interesting to Avaya is perhaps not its affinity to “people with guns”. Rather, it’s that it has been on board even before the unified communications (UC) vendor’s Canadian beginnings – its acquisition of Nortel.

According to Finucan, his company, which derived as much as 95 per cent of its revenue from selling Nortel, had all its eggs very much in one basket, but was also thriving.

“At one point we were doing some of their field service work for them,” he recalled. The company had even heard rumours internally, but it wasn’t real until Nortel openly declared bankruptcy.

Looking around, there was little that resonated with Combat. Every vendor, including Cisco, was touting rip and replace.

“For larger enterprise clients who spent millions on the infrastructure, it wasn’t an option,” Finucan said.

The only company that supported customers’ existing hardware was Avaya, he explained, and so his company signed up with the American company before they even won the bid for Nortel.

“Essentially we had about an 18 month advantage on the rest of the market in Canada,” he said. “The next two years, made more money than we did with Nortel.”


Today, Combat Networks offers solutions beyond Avaya and has clients in more mainstream verticals in addition to those with national security objectives, and splits its business evenly between networking and video surveillance technology.

Nevertheless, Avaya solutions lead Combat’s offerings, and while not all of its clients can be advertised, Finucan said that the vendor’s marketing efforts, even something as little as a use case video, will go a long way.

“I’m much happier from what I heard this year,” he said. “It helps align what we’re going to be in the next few years.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Yin
Dave Yin
Digital Staff Writer at Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel.

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