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Nortel channel programme to be scrapped

Closure of partner scheme is one of several moves Avaya is plotting ahead of Nortel integration

Nortel channel programme to be scrapped
Avaya’s Jeremy Butt has confirmed that Nortel resellers will switch to its partner programme from March 2010, pending final approval of its takeover of the company’s enterprises solutions business.

Avaya intends to scrap Nortel's existing channel partner scheme and migrate resellers to its own Connect Programme as part of a series of changes that the vendor is planning to impose once it gains control of its troubled rival's enterprise solutions business.

The direction of the Nortel business was one of the main topics on the minds of resellers at Avaya's EMEA Partner Conference last week, and Avaya officials were happy to tackle it head-on, explaining that preparations were being made to accommodate a vastly-expanded channel base.  

"There's nothing to stop the Nortel partners signing up with us today and there's several that have signed up with us recently, but nonetheless we have got a whole load of other partners that are coming to us in December [when the deal is expected to be approved]," said Jeremy Butt, VP worldwide channels at Avaya.

"We have taken Nortel through the Avaya Connect Programme and as bad as our programme has been, theirs is actually worse," Butt told resellers.

"If they were here now - which they are not allowed to be obviously - they would tell you that their programme was worse. They don't have a consistent programme around the world, they don't have consistent PRM [partner relationship management) systems or sales-out reporting or anything, so they are absolutely delighted that we are going down this route," he added.

Dealers selling Nortel equipment will be inducted into Avaya's Connect Programme from March 1st 2010 - a month after the scheme goes live in order to give it a few weeks to settle.

"We will transition their partners into our programme; there will be only one going-forward programme - Avaya Connect - that is it," said Butt.

Avaya will initially place Nortel partners into one of four programme tiers depending on the size of their revenues. However, in order to sell Avaya's products they will need to attain the necessary certifications.

Butt also said that both Nortel and Avaya partners would continue to source products from their existing distributors and that any move on Avaya's part to "compress those [channels] down" would not happen until the roadmap had been fully consolidated.

Asked what the risks were of Avaya partners and Nortel partners fighting over the same Nortel customer, and how it plans to deal with that, Butt responded: "The biggest risk is that you go and fight it on price rather than on competency - we don't expect people to be doing that too aggressively. Yes, there are going to be some fights and we expect the most competent partner with the best proposition to win. I think that's the normal course of events and if that happens then we have no worries about it."

Todd Abbott, senior VP of sales and president field operations at Avaya, said the acquisition of Nortel's enterprise business was likely to cost the company around US$1 billion once restructuring costs had been factored in. The deal is currently awaiting final approval from the US, EU and Canada but is on course to close by the middle of December, he said.

Abbott stressed that Avaya was legally bound from talking about the consolidated product strategy of the company, but confirmed that the roadmaps were "95% done".

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