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Avaya willing to share customers with Cisco, Microsoft in three-way networking battle

Avaya CEO says company debt woes are under control

By , Network World
March 28, 2013 11:59 AM ET

Network World - Avaya unified communications products can get along with Microsoft's Lync Server, and many customers will probably choose to deploy both rather than just one, says Avaya's CEO.

Kevin Kennedy
Kevin Kennedy

Despite what he sees as shortcomings of Microsoft's real-time communications platform, businesses will see value to some of its features, and supplement those with products from Avaya, says Avaya chief Kevin Kennedy.

UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS BATTLE: Cisco, Avaya feel the heat from Microsoft Lync 

MORE: Lync moves closer to being a PBX replacement 

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"Are they a full replacement for a phone system as you think about a phone system in the past? The answer is no," Kennedy says. "Are they a full replacement of room-based videoconferencing system today? The answer would be no. Are there many things that you would have to add, to integrate with it, to make it a full system? The answer is yes."

Nevertheless customers faced with using Lync Server for some of its features such as instant messaging may deploy other features such as voice calling in certain circumstances, directly competing with Avaya products, Kennedy says. This despite Avaya's 50% lower consumption of network bandwidth, he says.

"The real reality is customers and employees will decide what tools they want to use, and it won't be just one tool," he says. "I actually think in many cases with many customers we will end up being a complement to Microsoft and Lync."

It's not just Microsoft that Avaya expects to share customers with, and with that in mind Avaya is embracing open standards for its UC products, "because we believe all of the answers are unlikely to come from any one company. If you want an application that can distribute an SMS to every device that you own vs. just one, well a company may want that and a company may get that from someone else other than Avaya - Microsoft, Cisco."

Those two competitors have deep pockets that enable them to enter markets for the long-haul and ramp up sales slowly, he acknowledges, but Avaya can hang with them. "I think being one of three is a great thing," Kennedy says. "In some sense that's organizing for an industry, and as I further stated I think it will not be a single-vendor or a single-application, winner-take-all type of environment. As long as we continue to innovate and offer a proposition that is fundamentally different there will be a healthy place for us."

Kennedy's comments came during a one-on-one interview with Network World at Enterprise Connect 2013 last week. At the conference analyst Peter Hale of MZA Ltd. said Avaya had lost market share in IP telephony to Cisco between 2011 and 2012, winding up with 12% to Cisco's 18%.

That in part was due to paying more attention to large customers and losing smaller businesses customers, Kennedy says. "After we did the Nortel acquisition (2009), on both the contact center and the unified communications side our low-end and mid-market offerings became stale, and we were more focused on the high end."

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