Concerns for Nortel/Avaya contact center customers

I just finished watching most of the video replay of the Avaya announcement this week regarding their roadmap for both the enterprise and contact center markets. Let me ask you a question – are you as perplexed as I am?

As I watched it, I made several notes and questions that, if I were an existing Avaya or Nortel customer, I would want to have explained to me. So I thought I would share a few of them with you. Please, take your time to read through these and respond back to me with your viewpoints, comments, and corrections.

  1. In today’s communication world, everything is moving towards software-based, open-architecture, application-rich solutions. Yet, from what I can see from their roadmap, Avaya is staying firmly planted in the world of proprietary, hardware-based solutions. Avaya’s roadmap to the future looks like a minefield of trouble from an IT perspective. If you are a Nortel customer today and are in need of applications from Avaya, you are going to be heavily investing in hardware and services to get there.
  2. In the contact center world, if you purchased a solution from Avaya, you are going to be moving to Nortel. According to their announcement, Nortel’s CC7 product was already further along in supporting multi-vendor solutions for the mid-market contact center than Avaya’s Contact Center Express solution. Thus, CC7 is your contact center solution of choice and will be enhanced to add additional features/functionality to it. What if you bought from Avaya or were moving to Avaya to get away from the Nortel solution in the first place? Looks like you are going back.
  3. From an IT perspective, I just cannot imagine how difficult it will be to maintain and manage all of the different products that will be coming your way as an Avaya/Nortel customer. During the announcement, it was very clear that IT groups need to be quite knowledgeable and savvy regarding the hardware/software options they are going to support with this mixed product bag. I can’t imagine trying to talk to an Avaya/Nortel sales person to find out which solution is going to be the best fit for my business needs.
  4. Speaking of IT, we continue to hear from prospects and customers alike that their executive teams are mandating moving away from heavy-IT investments and moving towards hosted CaaS/SaaS solutions in order to minimize the amount of on-site expertise and to reduce capital expenditures. Avaya’s roadmap of hardware-intensive solutions looks to be taking customers the other way.
  5. ACE or Aura? If I understand the roadmap correctly, if you are a Nortel customer, it isn’t a matter of choosing one or the other for your migration plans to Avaya, it is going to be both. Avaya stated that the Nortel’s Agile Communications Environment (ACE) was further along in being able to interface with 3rd party applications than Aura’s. It appears that you will use ACE for the applications integrations and Aura for the communications integrations. Am I missing something or does this sound like a lot of consulting time and costs involved?

From my perspective, granted a biased one, there are bumpy roads ahead for you if you are a Nortel or Avaya customer.

Let me know your thoughts.


Tim Passios

Tim Passios

I've been lucky enough to work with the great team here at Interactive Intelligence for nearly two decades, having started back in 1998 when we were just a start-up company in the heart of the Midwest. At that time, I had just spent the previous seven years working for a software company managing their contact center which paved my way to join here at Interactive. Over the years here, I've contributed in many ways from IT, sales support, demonstrations, and marketing. In my current role as the Vice President of Solutions Marketing, I have constant interactions with customers, prospects, the media and industry analysts, which give me keen insights into the different challenges related to the world of business communications. I graduated from Ball State University in 1990 with an advertising major and marketing minor. While at BSU, I met my beautiful bride of 20 years and we now live with our two children in Fishers, IN.

4 comments to Concerns for Nortel/Avaya contact center customers

  • Steve Jones
    Spoken like an i3 marketing rep. I heard the roadmap this week too and not sure how you came to these conclusions. Geesh.
  • Thanks for your thoughts Steve.I’d love to hear your take on the announcement. As for how I came to those conclusions, it was after speaking to analysts and consultants involved with the announcement and who are close with the workings at Avaya.Having said that, however, I must admit that I’m going to be quite a bit more skeptical given my bias towards an open, software-based solution vs. a hardware-centric model.I’d love to hear back from you and hear your thoughts.
  • Renjith
    I could see Avaya was a hardware centric model in the old DefinityInteractive Response days, but that was during the TDM time. Almost all applications coming from Avaya are now hardware independent and moving towards VM’s, at the same time offering enterprise level redundancy & the myriad range of features that anyone could dream up. Technology changes – everyone cannot just jump on the bandwagon immediately – they do have a variety of steps to go through. Be it Cisco or Mitel or Asterisk.

    All i could see in the Avaya roadmap after the merger was that they have their hands full with CTI Apps, which they are consolidating & moving to open standards. I do realise they dont have much brochures on that ..

    In the end if I wanted an all in one open solution I’d go for Asterisk. :)

  • Renjith – Thanks for the post.

    I appreciate your insight but I feel like you are stating the same point. If I am a Nortel customer in need of a communication solution, do I want to wait for Avaya to: 

    1. Make the transition from a hardware model to a software model? How long is that going to take?
    2. Consolidate their new product portfolio while I am need of solutions today?
    3. Make the transition to an open standards solution so that I have more interoperability choices in the future? Avaya is just now touting the benefits of SIP – something the industry has been talking about for more than 6 years now.

    As for moving to an all-in-one solution – are you serious? Asterisk? All-in-one? 😉

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