HP and Avaya - Moving Forward With Small Steps

27 Aug 2014

I know there have been some other comments by UC Experts about the Avaya - HP relationship that was announced this week. However, I thought it would be appropriate to comment further on the relationship and on a few of the statements made in a call with Brett Shockley of Avaya and HP's David Dowse on Thursday. Based on the comments, while there was a lot of talk about HP and Avaya working together, there appeared to be three clear points made on the call and through the questioning:

  • From an HP perspective, this relationship appears to be primarily about the back-end operation of Avaya cloud/hosted offerings. This was referred to as "service delivery" and is the process of delivering, not selling the solution. Essentially Avaya is outsourcing the operation of their hosted and private cloud offerings in VoIP, UC, and Contact Center to HP. HP will operate these offers, leveraging their Helion cloud technology. However, it was made clear that HP will not sell these directly, they will all continue to be sold through Avaya, though HP can resell these offers to their customers. However, it was stated that HP will not receive any favored pricing or other sales favoritism, as Avaya stated they did not want to impact their other current channels. From this I assume that Avaya will offer these HP delivered cloud/hosted offers through other, non-HP channels.

  • HP is upgrading their internal Contact Centers to the latest Avaya Contact Center technology. This seems to be on the surface a great win for Avaya, though there was no specific statement as to the size of the Contact Centers impacted or other specifics. This is a win for both companies as Avaya gets a major new/upgraded customer and HP gets better customer interaction and service.

  • HP is a major partner with Microsoft in the delivery of Lync. In fact, HP has a complete offering and architecture around Lync delivery, including Lync phones and complete systems sold directly by HP sales. David made it clear that this enhanced Avaya relationship does not impact the HP Lync offerings, and stated that they were looking to build hybrid Avaya/Lync solutions for their customers. It will be interesting to watch this as Microsoft has made it increasingly clear that they are not interested in inter-working with PBX vendors. It will be interesting to see what unique Avaya/Lync integrations HP can deliver in light of the Microsoft positions.

Not discussed was how the Avaya and HP data businesses relate to this new relationship. In data networks, Avaya and HP are direct competitors with HP focused in SDN through OpenFlow and Avaya driving a proprietary software-based solution. HP is clearly focusing their data networking on Lync and has a significant program around the advantages of using HP data networking with Lync. It was unclear whether the HP sales force will focus on Avaya UC versus the integrated HP offerings of HP data and Lync.

The major longer term potential of the relationship is how Avaya and HP move beyond this hosting/service delivery phase to working more closely together on integrations between their respective portfolios. There appeared to be three areas that could be of interest. On the call, the emergence of Communications Enabled Business Processes and the integration of Avaya communications into HP delivered business processes was discussed as well as the Contact Center and customer interaction. This is a high potential area as HP has the vertical focus to enable values that Avaya cannot and Avaya has the tools to enable real-time integration. Another area that was discussed was the potential of mobile device integration, both for BYOD and business applications. In both of these areas, there is a natural synergy between Avaya and HP, but a similar synergy exists between HP and Microsoft. In the BYOD area, the HP solutions can potentially be leveraged on both sides, but the Contact Center is more problematic as Avaya has not shown a willingness to enable the Avaya Contact Center products to operate in a Lync call control environment. So HP will not be able to respond to Call Center requirements in Lync customers with the Avaya Call Center solutions and will need other partnerships for that space. Over the next 12 months it will become clear if HP can support both partners or will focus more on one or the other in the UC space.

Finally, there is potential synergy in the data network/UC inter-operations space, but this may be hard to realize as long as Avaya and HP are competitors in data networking. Clearly the Avaya sales team is compensated to sell Avaya data equipment, not HP. While integrating Avaya Aura with the SDN-based server to network prioritization and QoS API mechanisms HP has developed as part of the SDN offer would be of great value to customers with Avaya UC and HP data, this was not mentioned on the call. Perhaps this is because that capability was developed with Microsoft and is supported in Lync.

In conclusion, this is an interesting step forward in a partnership that makes perfect sense for both HP and Avaya. For HP, strengthening their Avaya relationship is a potential bulwark against Cisco and a counter position to Microsoft, as well as building on a large number of joint customers and growing the HP cloud service delivery business. For Avaya, it leverages a strong partner for cloud/hosted service delivery, an area where Avaya does not have dramatic capabilities and opens the door to creating value that can be leveraged into HP's strong customer base as well as potentially protecting existing shared customers. It remains to be seen if HP focuses on the Avaya UC offer for new customers versus the HP/Lync offers, or just sees Avaya as an offer to existing Avaya customers when they want to move to cloud/hosted. Whether this will be a turning point for Avaya in moving forward in the transformation to a software and applications company will only be clear as the outcomes of this new partnership emerge into the market over the next 12-24 months.

The Avaya-HP press release can be accessed here.

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