Nortel Networks has spurned its resellers and decided to introduce its Enterprise Edge converged voice and data product to the UK through BT.
The product, which is aimed at SMEs, had been promoted heavily at the vendor's Barracuda reseller conferences. But now Nortel resellers wanting to enter the convergence market must turn to other vendors.
John Chapman, business development director at Westcon, said he was told of the decision last week. "We thought we'd be able to get it but have now been categorically told we won't," he said.
Jonathan Hallet, Nortel sales specialist at Netwise Systems, said: "It's ridiculous. It's a top product and just what data resellers need as a lead into the voice market."
Neil Tilley, Nortel pre-sales manager at EAE Infosystems, said Nortel presented the product to resellers as recently as last month and did not tell them not to sell it.
Chapman said he was told BT has exclusive distribution rights to Nortel's voice products, and the Enterprise Edge contains technology from the Norstar PBX.
Dave Allen, enterprise solutions marketing director at Nortel, said the deal with BT is not exclusive. "The current situation is that BT is the distributor for the product in the UK," he said. A BT representative confirmed Nortel is free to sell its products as it likes.
Allen responded to suggestions that Nortel is driving its resellers into the arms of its competitors. He said: "We're in a growth market. Right now we are working with BT. Who knows where we'll focus in nine months' time?" Nortel will work with other partners but it is too soon to say who, he added.
Steve Brazier, director at analysts Canalys.com, said converged voice and data technology is "a strong channel product, one of the best pieces of news the channel has had in a long time".
Similar products such as Lucent's Network Alchemy and 3Com's NBX are being sold by networking resellers. Brazier said: "If you are targeting businesses with up to 250 users you absolutely must use the channel. And if the product requires data skills then BT is not the right company to sell it."
But Allen disagreed: "I think BT stands alone. What other company has 325,000 SME customers to sell to?"
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