Voice and data resellers will find themselves merging into one as the growing trend of network vendors consolidating with telecoms companies takes hold.
According to Graham Harris, UK channel director at Lucent, the reseller market is entering an evolving period where the voice and data channels are merging as a result of the increasing number of converging products on the market.
He said: 'Converged products which treat voice as data now exist in the SME market but the channel has yet to converge. There are still either data resellers or telecoms Vars rather than someone supplying communications systems. The user wants a single point of contact.'
Lucent's products are based on the Index platform, which is sold by 70 resellers. Of these, Harris estimated 10 are primarily data Vars, including Mitech, ML Networks and Cableship. 'Everyone is looking to converge strategies and portfolios. All our telecoms Vars have already sold elements of data products,' he said.
In preparation for the extra training required, Lucent has invested #1 million in doubling the capacity of its training rooms and the number of trainers at its Welwyn Garden City office.
'The channel will evolve to something that can deliver true voice and data systems which can provide essential voice and high speed data,' said Harris. 'We are aiming to educate the channel to deliver what the customer really wants.'
But Harris did not believe the channel would replace existing ways to market. 'It won't replace, but will become another facet of the whole indirect sales channel. The channel will remain as wide and broad as always, from telcos to high street resellers. There will still be room for standard resellers.'
NORTEL REVISES CERTIFICATION PROGRAMME
Nortel has revamped its dealer certification programme to integrate its resellers following last year's acquisition of Bay Networks.
The programme spans all Nortel production lines and aims to provide a more flexible certification process for data, voice and combined systems.
Amanda Giddens, business partner marketing director of EMEA at Nortel, said: 'This is the first company certification since the integration of Bay into Nortel last year. It addresses our unified voice and data certification.'
She added that the programme, which includes the Micom product line and is due to come into effect from the beginning of next month, would eventually replace all existing Nortel and Bay programmes.
Meanwhile, the vendor will continue to recognise existing Nortel certification programmes, including Magellan and Norstar. The scheme is based on performance-based exams and real-world experience. According to Giddens, dealers will make the transition to the programme after their annual resit and re-audit.
Included in the certification programme at the upper tier is the consultant-level designation, Nortel Networks Certified Network Architect (NNCNA).
'People interested in this certification will need a lot of industry experience,' said Giddens.
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