Having taken part in Avaya's North American advisory committee and thus having had an opportunity to help shape the new program, the new program gets a warm response from Dave Sherry, president of Newmarket, Ont.-based IP communications solutions provider and Avaya partner Unity Telecom.
"For newer partners coming on they've raised the bar as far as medal status, and they've modified the program to be more dealer-friendly," said Sherry. "I like the changes in the approach to marketing. It's much more integrated into the partner community, rather that being separated from the manufacturing side in the past. Now it seems to be much more tied together and working in the same general direction,"
Sherry does raise concerns though around training and certifications. While the new program has reduced the training requirements, he said it's still a significant commitment of resources and time for his company.
"They want you to make the commitment to Avaya. They don't want fly-by-night partners, they want dedicated partners," said Sherry, adding he understands that desire. "But the amount of courses for Platinum is intense. I like to joke we're really a training company."
Janet Waxman, vice-president of infrastructure channels and alliances with research firm IDC, said if you'd asked her six months ago she'd have said Avaya had its work cut out for it gaining credibility as a serious and committed channel player. However, with a lot of hard work and the new partner program, she said they're now very much in the game.
"Now Avaya is a force to be reckoned with in the channel," said Waxman.
While Avaya had a program base to build from, Waxman said a plus for Avaya was that they did have to do a major overhaul and rethink. They weren't building on an existing program that was relatively well received; they had to do a from the ground-up rebuild. The result is a clean, comprehensive partner program that's streamlined and knows what it wants to accomplish.
"I think they've come a long way. This was a lot of work," said Waxman.