The recently announced global partnership between network hardware producer, Extreme Networks, and communications systems company, Avaya, will prove fruitful to channel partners from both sides by allowing them to provide a complete VoIP solution for their customers, representatives claim.
Earlier this month, Avaya and Extreme Networks announced a partnership which would see Avaya sell and support Extreme's LAN gear. Under the arrangement, Avaya will sell and support Extreme’s BlackDiamond, Alpine and Summit products, supplementing its existing Cajun Ethernet switch product line.
The two firms will also jointly develop technologies for converged Internet Protocol (IP) networks, in the areas of management and provisioning, QoS and security for converged IP networks. This will include a focus on development products based on the emerging Session Initiation Protocol convergence standard – a standard also backed by Microsoft.
The deal will also put Avaya's $US2 billion services arm to work for Extreme, giving the switch company an army of 8,500 Avaya service professionals for installing and maintaining its Ethernet gear.
Extreme Networks Australian sales manager, Charlie Cote, said the deal, coupled with Avaya’s strong services presence in the local market, allowed Extreme channel partners to not only resell IP networking gear, but to also provide the applications and support services to go along with it.
Although it was still early days and the formal structure of the deal with Avaya would not be finalised until the new year, Cote said he was confident the deal would open up Avaya’s products and services to Extreme resellers.
“For our existing partners, it gives them the ability to look at a complete VoIP solution with Extreme,” Cote said.
Avaya product director for Asia-Pacific, Rosemary Durand, seconded Cote’s statement.
She said the deal would benefit resellers from both camps.
“Our resellers and business partners get access to Extreme products – but we are also hoping to work with Extreme partners and bring them into the Avaya family,” she said.
Durand said the Avaya/Extreme deal would broaden the portfolio currently held by its business partners by giving them an opportunity to resell Extreme products directly from Avaya.
It would also give each company’s customers access to a complete converged IP solution.
Durand said there had been plenty of positive feedback from Avaya’s business partners, as well as lots of questions as to how the relationship would work.
One of the most common questions, she said, was whether Avaya business partners would continue selling existing Extreme product lines. While there was a slight overlap on product portfolio, Durand said most of the products offered by Extreme were complementary to Avaya. The company would stick to focussing on the core of the network, while Extreme focussed on edge, she said.
“Where Extreme plugs with us is converged solutions," Durand said. "Extreme will still chase core data network backbone opportunities, but [can now] bring in Avaya for IP telephony."
There would be some areas, however, where customers would now get a choice on products, she said. These could then be selected depending on the demands of each customer’s network.
Durand said Avaya hoped to continue its single tier channel strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, although there might be logistical issues between different Asian countries.
The company currently had a select range of business partners, but used some master distributors for its lower-end products, she said. Extreme currently conducts all of its business in Australia directly through its channel partners.
Cote said the company would continue to sell and support its product lines, as well as any additional Avaya products and services, through its existing channel partners.
Observers commenting on the Avaya-Extreme alliance say it is a tag-team effort to challenge Cisco Systems, which leads the LAN switch and IP telephony markets.
Avaya and Extreme are billing their combined product offerings as a standards-based alternative to "proprietary" convergence products, namely Cisco's AVVID product line. (Avaya uses proprietary protocols in its own Multivantage voice over IP products, as do most vendors in the market).
Extreme is considered by some industry analysts and users to be a leader in Layer 3 and Gigabit Ethernet LAN switching, although its installed base is one-tenth the size of Cisco's.