UK partners of Ericsson’s Enterprise Communication Business have hailed its buyout by telephony vendor Aastra Technologies as positive news for the channel.
The Canadian vendor agreed to acquire the Swedish company last month, the total cost of which is expected to run to $160m Canadian (£80m). The deal should close next month and Aastra president Tony Shen told CRN he hoped it would help increase his firm’s footprint across Europe.
Shen revealed the acquisition had added only a handful of new UK partners to his company’s tally of 40 and claimed and he had no plans to significantly increase Aastra’s UK channel presence in the foreseeable future. “It is really about the quality of new partners. For now, we are happy to bring in existing Ericsson partners and try to sort out the go-to-market strategy,” said Shen.
Managed services provider Damovo is an Ericsson Enterprise Communications Business partner and managing director Nick Dean felt the acquisition will see more money put into research and development of new products.
“I see the acquisition as a major piece of good news,” he said. “The enterprise telephony business was just two per cent of the larger Ericsson business, so it was very clear that we did not really get a seat at the table for the big decisions.”
Dean was also confident that the acquisition could help Aastra break into the
established top five enterprise telephony vendors of Avaya, Cisco, Nortel,
Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent. “Aastra’s clear intent is to be one of the three or
four major players. I think the acquisition will transform its presence in the
UK market,” added Dean.
Distributor Rocom is another Ericsson Enterprise Communications Business partner to welcome news of the acquisition. However, managing director Richard Carter told CRN there were still some details to thrash out with Aastra.
“Rocom could develop by being able to sell Aastra products alongside the Ericsson products. That is something that has not yet been decided, but we are pushing for it, given that its products are very successful in Europe. Its products are very capable so there is an opportunity there,” he said.
Carter also indicated that he expected the partnership to evolve and claimed early meetings with senior Aastra executives had been fruitful. “It is good that Aastra is focused on enterprise telephony and it is good to be working with a vendor that is growing rapidly. We met Tony Shen in South Africa last month for the opening discussions in how we can go forward and minds were set to rest,” he said.
Aastra’s UK general manager Michael Calvert indicated his company had a three-tiered partner system with five Gold Plus partners in the UK and the remainder split evenly between Gold and Silver levels.
He also indicated that Aastra had operated a policy of dealing direct with
resellers, rather than through
distributors. “We work directly with resellers, so that we can have a close relationship with them,” he said.
“However, Ericsson has strong distribution relationships, which we will maintain.”
Shen revealed that his company sells direct to some large corporations, but that 65 per cent of Aastra’s business goes through the channel.
“There is always some conflict, but the position that we have seems to be working.”
He added that Aastra would be interested in further acquisitions. “It depends on the opportunities. The industry is evolving and there are still a lot of players available,” he said. “Our plan is to have a mixture of organic and acquisitive growth.”
Calvert also felt his company could become the UK’s top PBX vendor over the
next few years.
“We are in a strong position in the market, particularly in terms of research and development and the message for our customers is that we are going to be around for a long time,” he said.
Barry O’Connor, enterprise voice portfolio leader for rival vendor Nortel, said: “Different vendors are strong in particular markets. You can see where Aastra’s strengths lie. Nortel can improve its market share by providing innovative products that people want.”
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