The new head of Avaya Inc.’s networking division has bold goals for a company that by all accounts is at least in fourth place in global network sales if not lower.
“Two years from now I’d like to be the number three networking company in the world,” Marc Randall, senior vice-president of networking for the company, said in an interview Tuesday.
“Lofty goals,” he admits, “but I’ve got my sights on the competitors ahead of me. And they’re big.”
But, he added, “it’s also an Avaya goal to grow the business. And as we grow our collaboration business, our networking business should grow along side with it.”
That won’t be easy, according to industry analysts.
Despite buying the enterprise networking division of Nortel Networks for almost $1 billion and spending another $165 million to upgrade the R&D labs it inherited in Ontario, Avaya has been unable to make ground on Cisco Systems Inc., Juniper Networks Inc., Alcatel-Lucent, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Brocade Communications Systems Inc. in networking equipment sales.
“When people think of Avaya they don’t think of networking,” observed Andre Kindness, enterprise networking analyst at Forrester Research. Avaya is still best known for its unified communications solutions and has no trouble selling them. But teaming sales of that gear with networking – as Cisco has done – has been a tough goal at Avaya.
“When they first bought Nortel’s equipment they fumbled around, didn’t seem to know what to do with them,” said Kindness. “In the last 18 months they’ve made a big turnaround, investing in the networking side.” While the company is starting to gain customers, “it’s a slow road for them.”
“They’re still struggling on how to sell networking and VoIP together.”
Randall (pictured), who was hired in January from Cisco [Nasdaq: CSCO], where he was vice-president and general manager of its scalable network business unit, acknowledges as much. “We really didn’t take this tact as aggressively as we are now,” he said.
With Randall's appointment Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy also trimmed down his company’s senior management structure to three business units in an effort to ensure the divisions worked closer. Brett Shockley became senior vice-president in charge of applications (including unified communications), and Gary Barnett became senior vice-president of collaboration infrastructure.