Nortel Networks has struck a deal with Aria Communications in an effort to expand its telephony reach into the SME arena.
Aria Communications, a subsidiary of Perth-based CDM Group, will distribute three telephone/key systems – under the Norstar brand name - to SMEs and branch offices.
The company distributes gear through a network of 90 dealers in Australia and the Pacific region.
Under the latest deal, nine VARs hadcome to the table, and three more were expected to jump onboard in the coming weeks, said Chris Luxford, Nortel’s director, voice portfolio, Asia-Pacific.
As part of the package, resellers can pitch a trio of product including the Norstar Compact (offering up to four lines and eight extentions), Norstar Compact Plus (which supports email and automated attendant), and Norstar Modular Integrated Communications Systems (which supports up to 128 ports in multiple configurations).
Luxford said Nortel already had a strong Norstar base in Australia (thanks to the ongoing distribution deal with Commander), but wanted to branch out in the SME arena and create market awareness.
Commander did not sell through a dealer network, he said.
“We were looking for a partner with a regional focus,” Luxford said.
Nortel was also looking partner that could take a breadth of solutions to companies with four users all the way up to 400.
Resellers can pitch installation and commissioning, operational management and maintenance to customers. “Smaller businesses don’t have the technical skills, and need help with the day-to-day changes and operational management,” he said.
As such, smaller businesses were intrigued by the latest telephony gear because of the advancements in functionality.
“Two years ago it was basic telephony,” Luxford said.
Today, the technology has moved beyond the simple make and take calls (beyond a basic key system), and can offer advanced voicemail and call centre functionality, for example, at lower price points.
Small companies wanted easy to use telephony systems - basic handsets, basic telephone devices - but also wanted the option to go more high-tech, he said. In otherwords, souping up traditional PBX systems.
Climbing up the food chain, he said Nortel was also positioned to capture a chunk of the high-end market, offering IP-enabled solutions to hundreds of thousand of users.
Many businesses have two or three locations and require voice-over-IP in order to share information between sites. “There’s an evolution towards higher value solutions,” Luxford said.
As reported in an earlier article, Gartner analyst Bob Hafner said the convergence battle is hotting up between the evolutionary players (including the likes of Nortel and Avaya) and the revolutionary players (including Cisco and 3Com).
Luxford said IP telephony was driving change – and vendors were getting in on the action.