ShoreTel Delivers Message to Nortel Customers: You Have a Choice

by Matt Klassen on February 1, 2011

There’s little doubt in my mind that when Nortel was purchased by Avaya just over a year ago, Nortel customers were worried. They were worried not so much about Avaya itself, a world leader in business communications technology, but more so about the future of their Nortel phone systems.

The issue continues to be so prevalent, in fact, that Avaya representatives were in full damage control mode at a small business-oriented IT/telecom conference called, “Know Your Alternatives,” held in Toronto this past week.

Among a veritable who’s who of telecom presenters and panel participants, conference goers were able to hear Avaya’s long-term plan for its Nortel assets, a plan that no doubt put many restless minds at ease. But while Avaya was engaged in damage control, playing some much needed defence in regards to its Nortel base, some its chief competitors, such as ShoreTel, were in full offensive mode, letting Nortel customers know that they have a choice.

Designed as a one-day interactive tutorial for business and government decision-makers regarding the current Unified Communications (UC) market in Canada, the “Know Your Alternatives” conference offered attendees both the information and strategies to make informed decisions about IT and telecom solutions.

As an aside, the conference also gave worried existing Nortel customers a chance to both see Avaya’s plan for its Nortel assets and suss out any other potential UC solution providers that may meet their individual communication needs better than Nortel ever did.

Amir Hameed, Avaya Canada’s Director of National Solution Specialists, laid out Avaya’s phase out plan for Nortel’s phone systems, stating that Avaya will allow existing Nortel customers to either upgrade to the latest version of Nortel’s software or convert to Avaya’s IP Office and Aura platform at whatever pace the customers feel comfortable with. (Jeff Wiener from wrote a post yesterday discussing the Nortel Norstar and Avaya IP Office integration and Avaya’s announcement that IP Office Release 7 will support the Nortel M and T series sets. You can read that here). Hameed went on to say that the Nortel customers who wish to switch to Avaya’s Aura and IP Office platform will experience a seamless and effortless transition.

Further, for those customers wishing to stick with their existing Nortel system, Avaya will give them a one-year advanced notice when production of Nortel products will be slated to end, and will continue to offer ongoing technical support for those Nortel systems for an additional six years.

But not to be outdone though, ShoreTel Sr. Solutions Engineer David Hobbs made sure to emphasize the point during a panel discussion that Nortel users may want to consider the alternatives before switching to Avaya. Asked why Nortel customers should switch to ShoreTel, he replied, for the sake of “simplicity” in operations and installation.

In the end, if it wasn’t obvious that ShoreTel is making a concerted effort to poach Avaya’s Nortel base, it certainly is now. ShoreTel took every opportunity during this one day conference to hint to the Nortel attendees that most other Nortel customers are already looking to jump ship, a point, true or not, that will certainly sway at least some Nortel customers unsure about the future of their communications system.

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