It looks like the Nortel saga is finally drawing to a close and current Nortel customers can now move to new direction with greater clarity.
For those of you not aware, Nortel filed for bankruptcy in January 2009. All of Nortel’s business units went up for sale, almost all having now been sold. The Enterprise Business unit was sold to Avaya in Sept 2009 with the transaction closing on December 18th, 2009. At that time Avaya promised a new road map to be delivered on January 19th, 2010.
The focus of this post is the Avaya small / mid market product line specifically. I, actually Rob Spicer, will address the enterprise Avaya Aura strategy in a separate post.
Although many of the specifics are somewhat vague, the overall product direction is not. The Nortel BCM 50, BCM 200, BCM 400, BCM 50 and Norstar will converge / morph into the Avaya IP Office product line some time in 2011. The Norstar and BCM are brands I have personally grown quite comfortable with having sold many Norstar’s and BCM’s over the last 20 years while at Digitcom.ca (although we switched to Avaya in 2005 as our primary product line). It’s kind of sad to see them go.
It’s not all bad news though.
Nortel sold millions of handsets over the last many decades. Avaya’s intention is to take a best of breed approach with respect to product development moving forward incorporating the best of Nortel’s BCM and adding that level of functionality into the Avaya IP Office product line. There will, eventually, be support for some of the Nortel handsets on the Avaya product line although that isn’t expected for some time, and the models of phones to be supported not clear either. Some tentative dates appear to be early 2011 although the specifics of what handsets, how, when, how much remain unclear.
The other bright spot with regards to Avaya’s SMB strategy is the continuation of the former Nortel SCS product line. Nortel launched SCS in February 2009 after they filed for bankruptcy protection, and Avaya intends to continue development and sales of SCS. SCS was formerly known as Pingtel which Nortel acquired in August 2008. You can read the old Nortel press release here.
In search of greater clarity on the Norstar and BCM product direction I went in search of answers to a series of questions. These questions included:
When will the M and T series sets be supported ?
Will all M and T series sets be supported ?
Will the i2000 series work ?
How will they be supported on IP Office ?
Will the module be the same price ?
Will Nortel’s wireless solutions be supported on IP Office ? If so, how ?
Will hot desking work on IP Office if using an M and T series set ?
What version of IP Office will support the sets ?
What does it mean that you can use Nortel element manager to program an IP Office ? Is all functionality maintained ?
The response I received to the above list of questions was as follows:
It is going to take some time for engineering to investigate all the bits and pieces to see what can and cannot be supported.
In all fairness, this is a major acquisition that just closed 4 weeks ago and the nature of these questions are quite granular. It will take some time to provide a clearer response of what, when, how, how much …
I’ve sat through hours of Avaya presentations in the last 7 days and am “copy and pasting” verbatim some questions / answers from those presentations:
What was the rationale to make the IP Office the platform of the future and the model to support BCM and Norstar features as opposed to the opposite
We have multiple generations of SMB products and have made multiple acquisitions in the past. The way to give the partner a competitive edge, every time we made an acquisition or changed to a next generation platform we had to make sure that the channel partner was able to retain the relationship with the customer.
As a result the IP Office has been the platform we converged and we have a very good process of doing so. That includes Legend, Partner, Merlin, Ingeral 5, where every time the phones, features, type of management and more, has been converged to IP Office. It protects the investment of the install base. It would be easier to converge to BCM and Norstar on IP Office then the reverse.
There was a question with regards to the Nortel sets that will eventually be supported on the IP Office. The response was as follows:
With regards to the sets, we’re currently investigating the T series sets. Some of the other ones with regards to the mobility are being considered, and some of the IP sets are being considered. The specific models are under investigation. I would look to see how things are being supported when we migrate Partner into IP Office, there will be almost an analagous activity. That’s where we are.
With regards to the mobility, the interface is very similar to the T series interface so that is the consideration we have right now. So I can’t guarantee that we will be there but clearly the mobility offering is very profitable for everyone so that’s something we will have to get our head around really quickly.
Overall, there appear to be many unanswered questions. The product direction is clearer though. Norstar and BCM are gone. Avaya has committed to hardware and software support until 2017, however, the platforms themselves are dead. There will / might eventually be some investment protection for the handsets although which ones, how, how much still remain unclear.
TheTelecomBlog.com has published a series of posts related to the Avaya Nortel Roadmap:
POST 1 – Avaya Announces Integrated Roadmap
POST 2 – Questions from the Avaya Nortel Roadmap presentation. This post is really a “hodge podge” of questions, answers …