Avaya Offers Plan for Nortel Integration Road Map

Avaya is unveiling its plans for integrating products acquired from Nortel's enterprise business. Avaya's plan is aimed at eliminating overlap while protecting Nortel customers, who not only will want to avoid any rip-and-replace scenarios but also will be courted by Avaya competitors. Avaya also said it is keeping Nortel's data products, including switches and routers.

Avaya is rolling out an integrated product road map that officials say aims to protect Nortel Networks customers and create a strong unified communications portfolio.

In their plans, unveiled Jan. 19, Avaya officials also said they intend to keep Nortel's data product lines, including switches, routers and wireless networking offerings.

The announcement comes a month after Avaya closed the $915 million deal for Nortel's enterprise business, part of the yearlong fire sale conducted by Nortel after filing for bankruptcy protection a year ago.

Some analysts have said that Avaya's acquisition of Nortel's Enterprise Solutions business has pushed the company past Cisco Systems in the enterprise telephony space. Avaya officials sound like they want to push whatever advantage they're getting from the Nortel deal.

"The integrated road map we're outlining today supports Avaya's commitment to providing customers with the advanced communications capabilities they need to manage and grow their organizations," Alan Baratz, senior vice president and president of global communications solutions at Avaya, said in a statement. "In developing the portfolio, our guiding principle was to deliver the most compelling and cost-effective systems and services to customers and partners."

Protecting the investments made by Nortel customers will be important for Avaya going forward as it fends off rivals who will be looking to siphon off Nortel customers with migration plans of their own.

In the highly competitive UC (unified communications) space, Avaya said it will continue to make its Aura communications platform the centerpiece, but will integrate a host of Nortel technologies, including its ACE (Agile Communications Environment) application development platform.

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Avaya released its SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)-based Aura platform in March 2009. The platform is designed to help businesses unify their communications networks. Avaya Aura is aimed primarily at large and midsize enterprises.

Avaya also said it will not end the life of any Nortel products beyond those older offerings already slated to go away. The company will continue to reinvest in such Nortel products as its Application Server 5300 and Communication Server 1000 and 2100. The one product Avaya officials are recommending that Nortel customers start moving away from is Nortel Multimedia Conferencing, saying that Avaya's Media Exchange offers a richer experience and that Avaya will continue to invest in that technology.

For customers, the integration of these products with Avaya Aura means that Nortel and Avaya PBX-based products will work with the SIP-based VOIP (voice over IP) offerings. Customers will see cost savings in not having to replace older PBX systems or in training employees on new systems.

For small and medium-size enterprises, Avaya is bringing such products as its own Integral 5 and Nortel's Norstar offerings under the Avaya IP Office umbrella, and will integrate Nortel features, interfaces and phones with IP Office to help Nortel customers protect their previous investments.

Avaya also is offering the Avaya Software Communication System, a SIP-based product acquired from Nortel that help SMEs that want to manage unified communications from the data center.

Regarding their decision to keep Nortel's data products, such as switches and routers, Avaya officials said the networking offerings are a key part of their plug-and-play communications vision. The move also circles back to their efforts to protect Nortel customers' investments and to keep them in the Avaya fold.