NASHVILLE, TENN. – Networking vendor Avaya is aiming to bring its managed services expertise to the channel, and set its sights on rival Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), with the new managed services offering it unveiled this month at its Americas Sales and Partner conference, held here.
Dubbed Avaya Partner-Enabled Managed Services, the suite is designed to leverage Avaya’s managed services expertise as a channel-delivered solution, allowing partners to put their own brand on a managed services offering enabled by Avaya technology and processes.
Chris Formant, Avaya’s senior vice-president and president, global services, said as part of Support Advantage, which will be launching February 1st, this is Avaya’s new flagship services offering and it’s designed to be very competitive with Cisco. Avaya’s offering includes 24 by 7 support and firmware updates, which he said Cisco doesn’t, and it’s more cost-competitive as well.
“The market is requiring a managed services option. This is something we haven’t done well, so we’ve completely re-tooled the business,” said Formant. “We’re not in the direct managed services business anymore. It will be like pulling teeth for someone to get us to do it direct. This is completely partner enabled.”
George Humphrey, director of strategy and operations in Avaya’s operations services organization, said the new partner-focus in managed services is a significant cultural change for Avaya.
“It’s really a 180-turn from where we were with previous managed services business with Avaya, was very direct, large-enterprise centric,” said Humphrey. “We’ve really hit the reset button and over the last year we’ve been building a set of competencies focused entirely on the channel.”
Historically, said Humphrey, Avaya has used a resell model of selling Avaya’s services to partners to resell to their customers. Now, Avaya is talking the best of their tools and wrapping them into a standards-based web platform that can plus into their Microsoft platform, so now they can bring Avaya technology into their existing support model, whether it be Tivoli or OpenView.
With the private label option, partners can take the lead in manages services engagements by leading with their branding while leveraging Avaya technology and services and having the option of using Avaya’s network operations centre (NOC) as well. Partners can choose which services to provide themselves, such as help desk, and which to use from Avaya.
For systems integrators and service providers that already have their own NOC, Avaya tools, processes and training can be integrated into the partner’s own NOC for partner delivery.
The Avaya Parter-Enabled Managed Services offering includes three types of service levels. Monitor includes service desks, notification and some monitoring services. Operate includes all the Monitor services, plus handling technology configurations, incident and service management and other maintenance issues. Finally, optimize includes Monitor and Operate, as well a system administration, availability and capacity management services and ongoing consulting.
Humphrey acknowledged that Avaya’s legacy comes from a very direct model, and while that has transformed to more of a channel model over time there has been resistance to change in some areas of the portfolio, which created some mixed messages for partners. With this new offering, he said Avaya is signaling that in managed services it will lead with the channel.
“This was one area that we looked at it and we thought it would be in conflict with our channel enablement strategy, so we really want to warm-up all areas through the channel mode,” said Humphrey.