Nortel moves in on Alphawest

Summary:Networking equipment vendor Nortel will seek to do more business with Cisco stalwart Alphawest, capitalising on what Nortel says is a good relationship with the services company's new owner, Optus. This time last year Alphawest was awarded Cisco's Gold Partner of the Year for 2004.

Networking equipment vendor Nortel will seek to do more business with Cisco stalwart Alphawest, capitalising on what Nortel says is a good relationship with the services company's new owner, Optus.

This time last year Alphawest was awarded Cisco's Gold Partner of the Year for 2004. "Alphawest has implemented many IP telephony sites across Australia and places focus on delivering solutions utilising Cisco Systems technology," the company's Web site states.

But there are signs that relationship is now changing due to Alphawest's acquisition by Optus in July last year. Optus is both a member of Nortel's nPower partner program as well as being a Gold Partner with Cisco.

"That relationship has just started to evolve, etc, and I've met the chief executive of Alphawest and we talked about really how we build up the Nortel business," Nortel's Australia and New Zealand president Mark Stevens said in an interview with ZDNet Australia this week.

      Mark Stevens
"The opportunity there is that Optus ... will start to develop the business, and we would see us starting to really ramp up our relationships and our build improve through AlphaWest," he added.

Nortel convergence chief architect Mick Regan noted that Optus had become a member of Nortel's nPower channel program in the last twelve months.

"So we've actually got a stronger relationship with them now, where before we didn't have that in place, we're working very closely with them now," he told ZDNet Australia.

Alphawest declined to comment on the issue, but Optus' alliance with Nortel on converged communications was a concern for Alphawest in the days after the acquisition in the middle of last year.

Alphawest chief executive Garry Henley said at the time he wasn't sure how the Nortel/Cisco clash would pan out. "We'll have to work through what comes across from Optus and what we can provide," he said.

However Regan noted Optus wasn't likely to put all its eggs in one basket. "They certainly see that there's more than one player in the marketplace. They're fully aware of that," he said.

Cisco's local managing director Ross Fowler said his company's relationship with Alphawest hadn't changed. "I think it's actually strengthened," he said in an interview with ZDNet Australia today.

      Ross Fowler
"Garry Henley who runs Alphawest reports into [Optus Business managing director] John Simon. I have a good relationship, and Cisco has a good relationship with John Simon, but I've also maintaining dialogue with Garry, as I would if he was running an independent company," he continued.

Fowler pointed towards recent work his company had done with Alphawest on the delivery of handsets into the newly refurbished Sydney Hilton Hotel as an example of the strength of the relationship.

In a wider sense though, Fowler said he thought the acquisition had helped change the conversation within Optus towards the convergence of voice and data. "Through the acquisition of Alphawest I think we've got an injection into Optus of skills that they didn't have," he said.

"If I look at where they've [Optus] come from, it has been from a TDM background, it has been from a traditional voice background," Fowler said.

Topics: Telcos, Optus

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