Avaya-Nortel targets Asian SMB segment

Acquisition of Nortel will give channel and geographic reach to focus on small and midsize firms, which company didn't have before, says Avaya top exec.

SINGAPORE--Avaya's acquisition of Nortel Networks will allow it to target SMBs (small and midsize businesses) in Asia--a segment the two companies did not have the means to focus on as separate entities, according to Avaya's Asia-Pacific president, Francois Lancon.

Fresh from his role as Nortel's enterprise president for EMEA and Asia, Lancon said in an interview with ZDNet Asia Tuesday the two telecommunications players have traditionally focused on large enterprises. For example, with Avaya's track record targeting FSI (financial services industry) and healthcare sectors, and Nortel's focus on education, large enterprises typically form the bulk of customer profiles for both vendors, he added.

The addition of Nortel will give Avaya an extended channel partner network through which to reach to the SMB segment, he explained.

"I believe we have downplayed our SMB [customer segment]. Now we have enough channel and geographic coverage to seriously launch our SMB business. It goes back to how many people you have in each country," said Lancon.

Avaya completed its acquisition of Nortel on Dec. 18, 2009, bringing 500 Nortel employees in Asia into Avaya. Globally, a total of 6,000 joined Avaya from the merger with Nortel.

Nortel migration roadmap
Lancon's goal to target SMBs in the region is part of a bigger aim to double the size of Avaya's Asia business over the next three years.

The company is also looking to upgrade existing Nortel customers to the Avaya set of technologies, he said.

To that end, Avaya is announcing a Nortel migration roadmap, aimed at bringing the latter's customers onto Avaya's architecture without ripping and replacing equipment, and at preventing them from moving to a competitor.

The new set of equipment will hook Nortel customers into Avaya's Aura architecture, its virtualized unified communications (UC) platform.

Aura, based on SIP (session initiation protocol), is Avaya's centerpiece upon which much of its product portfolio is based. Avaya, which had spun off from Lucent Technologies, offered SIP to enterprises in 2004 and launched a fuller SIP-based portfolio, covering phones and software in early-2008.

Lancon also noted that the new SIP-capable Nortel offerings are aimed at "restoring" customers that have been holding off investment in new telephony equipment for the past year or so.

"The Nortel business has been going down--not catastrophically--but customers have been holding off purchases... due to the economy, and while [waiting] for Nortel to roll out a roadmap. So we have some pent-up demand," he said.