Avaya has brushed off the threat of its partner community is being targeted by rivals ShoreTel and Mitel.
Rival communications vendors ShoreTel and Mitel have publicly voiced their intentions to poach Avaya partners following the communications giant filing for bankruptcy in January this year.
ShoreTel's CEO Don Joos told Channelnomics Europe's sister publication CRN that Avaya's bankruptcy has opened up an opportunity for ShoreTel to steal market share. Joos said that concerned Avaya partners have been contacting ShoreTel and boasted that his firm has seen a "significant uptake" of Avaya partners as a result of its financial situation.
Mitel, meanwhile, launched a new programme called Move to Mitel, specifically targeting Avaya partners that are concerned about the firm's long-term communications strategy and are looking for an alternative.
Speaking to Channelnomics Europe, Avaya's former international director of its mid-market segment, and current UK managing director Ioan MacRae dismissed the notion that Avaya partners are looking to move on, but claimed the firm is "keeping a close eye" on comms rival Mitel.
"Everything is business as usual, we have partners sitting right next to us and customers who have not run away from us and are not looking at throwing the Avaya solution out. I must be on 10 to 15 calls with customers a day and they are not panicking," he said. "[But] we would certainly be naïve and ignorant not to be aware of our competitors and the potential threat they pose on the partner community.
"Mitel, in fairness, have a good operation and they have a good cloud offering; we have to be mindful, but even though Mitel are talking to a number of our partners, it is one thing talking about it, but quite another to say 'yes'. Partners will have the task of retraining sales teams and technical staff, so you are talking a minimum of six months between saying 'yes' [and then] actually generating revenue, the likelihood is that Avaya is out of the financial process [by then so] they will not need [to move]."
The UK MD said that ShoreTel poses less of a threat, claiming that while the firm may be a force to be reckoned with in the US, its European operations are not as strong.
"With ShoreTel, we have got to keep an eye on them. I had the pleasure of meeting their CEO… and you would expect him to say that [he is targeting our partners], as one of our competitors. Saying they have had conversations with our partners, I know of four Avaya partners who have had ShoreTel in their portfolio and I know they have no intention whatsoever in doing more business with ShoreTel," said MacRae.
The Avaya man reaffirmed the assurances recently given by Avaya's vice president of northern Europe Ronald Rubens, claiming that filing for bankruptcy will have no impact on the firm's day-to-day operations. A number of channel firms have also thrown their support behind Avaya after filing for bankruptcy.
MacRae added: "We took the voluntary decision to go to chapter 11 and it is a balance sheet exercise, not an operational one. It is business as usual and we are even hiring new people and we continue to develop the portfolio. We launched three new partner programmes and have been investing in our partners. We want to reiterate it is very much business as usual."
In other news, the communications vendor has appointed Water Denk as its new worldwide channel leader. He will be responsible for growing revenues among Avaya's 7,000 channel partners worldwide.
Denk has moved into the new role from his previous post as vice president of small and medium business for the firm's German subsidiary. Prior to joining Avaya, Denk held sales and marketing positions at Deutsche Telekom, IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
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But senior exec claims Avaya is 'keeping a close eye' on Mitel