back to article Avaya files for bankruptcy

Avaya has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which allows organisations to re-organise their affairs in part by temporarily relieving them of obligations to creditors. The company's canned statement positions the decision to seek Chapter 11's protections as a necessary refresh of …

  1. AMBxx Silver badge
    Devil

    Silver Lake

    Anybody else out there ever told to refer to Silver Lake as 'Golden Pond' for during a takeover?

    1. Oh Homer
      Facepalm

      Bankruptcy is just a "transformation to a successful business!"

      Honest.

  2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Sympathy? Not a lot here

    Last I checked Aaya were still stuck somewhere in the early 90s by way of product offerings. The last "cloud" phone service I saw from them was nothing more than a virtualised instance of their same spaghetti mess boxes with a bit of VOIP tacked on as an afterthought. And maybe a half-baked "UC" implementation thrown in, appalling UC and "collaboration" apps dumped on a few mobile devices and never updated. Followed by the same with video calling.

    They chose to continue down the road of their same old rubbish, insanely and intentionally hamstrung systems while new "upstarts" came and delivered what users actually wanted - systems that were built around VOIP and integration and were manageable in a cohesive manner rather than the exact opposite.

    Avaya may have produced newer, better systems since but I gave up looking at them a while ago.

    1. RatX

      Re: Sympathy? Not a lot here

      This is sadly still the case. I've enjoyed working with their voice products for the past 20 years and witnessed the transition of the core architecture across a number of platforms, with increasingly elaborate "glue" included to maintain integration with newer components. The core product has not been updated to keep up with the times, and there's now as much glue as there is actual product.

      In terms of simple traditional models, their reputation for scalability and reliability is well earned and they do deserve credit there, but that's unfortunately one of the few remaining positives. The current product stack is a mishmash of Avaya and Nortel technologies, licensing is a mess, you're bound to expensive old school annual maintenance contracts and from a corporate perspective there doesn't seem to be much interest in making a change. There's marketing hoopla, but when push comes to shove it's always the same old stuff that's been polished up or given a new name.

      A complete re-write from the bottom up is required in order to be able to offer the modular, integrated architecture which competitors are able to provide, and I don't think they've got the remaining capability to undertake such a mammoth task + nobody would buy a .0 release of a full rebuild anyway.

      They make a lot of noise about their networking division, but the most unstable network switched I ever worked with was an elaborate Avaya Cajun P882, I would never consider them for networking ever again. The commodity 3COM's I replaced the Avaya with were a fraction of the cost, faster, more reliable and didn't require extravagant support charges in order to be entitled for firmware upgrades.

      So yeah, this is quite probably the beginning of the end - their products are deeply entrenched within my employer's global environment, but the writing is on the wall and I'm actively looking for another specialty to put on my CV...

      1. Pirate Dave
        Pirate

        Re: Sympathy? Not a lot here

        @RatX - amen. At least on the switch side, Avaya is still deeply entrenched in the old Nortel way of dealing with customers. We got on the Avaya bandwagon 5 years ago, and I honestly can't say I'm happy with it. We've got an IPOffice which does fine for our moderately sized VOIP needs, but I'm beginning to hate the ERS (ex-Nortel) switches I put in to connect it. It's nearly impossible to find a knowledgeable Avaya guru to help when I run into switch problems I can't figure out (other than Michael McNamara's site - I hope Avaya is at least sending him a fruit basket every Christmas for his efforts...), and trying to fix "big" problems by opening tickets with Avaya Support is, ehh, less than optimal. I wish I had gone with HP or Cisco switches so there would be more than a handful of people I could ask for help.

        1. Brian Miller

          Re: Sympathy? Not a lot here

          @RatX, @Pirate Dave:

          Why not use an open source solution for VOIP? There's Asterisk and FreeSWITCH, and both have plenty of support, including paid support. I've load tested FreeSWITCH to 1000 sessions, and it worked quite well.

          1. Never10_use_Puppylinux
            Linux

            Look at Ward Mundy's Asterisk Blog NerdVittles.com

            See Nerdvittles.com Ward Mundy's VoIP Blog XiVO Wazo products look very good.

            Want Cloudy VoIP? Look at installing XiVO Incredible PBX into Digital Oceans Cloud webserver offering.

            The Definitive Quick Start Guide: Introducing Incredible PBX for XiVO

            Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 2:00 am

            Good replacement and simple to tryout. Have a go at this option.

          2. RatX

            Re: Sympathy? Not a lot here

            @Brian Miller - Asterisk is amazing, and I've heard good things about the scalability of FreeSWITCH. However, I'm in a very traditional corporate environment, and anything open source is an immediate non-flyer. My views on this stance are irrelevant, it's carved in stone...

            1. Pirate Dave
              Pirate

              Re: Sympathy? Not a lot here

              Same here. While it's fine to use FOSS on "invisible" stuff like DNS/DHCP servers, firewalls, web-servers, etc, it wouldn't fly for a device that sits on the President's desk. Plus, well, locally there weren't many outfits who could help with an FOSS rollout or the afterwards-support, since, eh, there's not as much money in it. Sure, we could have locked our phone guy in a closet with Asterisk and some hardware for 3 months and not let him out until he mastered it, and then did our roll-out, but the CIO didn't much like that plan. Strangling our own neck when something breaks that we built doesn't really help the situation. So we went with Avaya since the local VAR had been installing and maintaining their stuff (except their switches) for years and their main Phone guru is like Rainman-level genius with Telco stuff. Sadly it seems all of the Rainman-level switch geniuses (except McNamara) work at Avaya - all 12 of them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sympathy? Not a lot here

        As a someone supporting former Nortel sites I agree - their offering stinks. They made things worse by not offering the Nortel customers an upgrade plan - and then killing off the product....most Nortel PBX users are looking at alternatives. The Nortel PBX's all ran software - doing a port of IP office to Nortel hardware would not have been that hard - and would have gotten all the Nortel customers onto the IP office bandwagon. Instead they shut down hardware support and then decided to screw customers even further by shutting down the licensing servers - so even though the hardware/software is still working, good luck getting new licenses....I can guarantee that any site I'm dealing with will not go with IP office as a result - and many customers feel the same way - I know one major bank here in Canada is just starting a conversion to Cisco from their Nortel BCM's...this is just the tipping point in the iceberg....screw over the customers and they will not keep doing business with you....

    2. Blotto Bronze badge

      Re: Sympathy? Not a lot here

      @Nuck

      Aka sweating your assets.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Venture Capitalists

    If you take over another company but have to borrow to finance the acquisition, you're new acquisition is always likely to have one hand tied behind it's back servicing the debt.

    1. 2460 Something

      Re: Venture Capitalists

      That is something that always frustrates me. You have a company doing reasonably well, venture capitalists buy it out, not because they think they can help it do better, but they want to load it with as much debt as possible to fuel their other purchases, then they can drop the one they don't care about and allow it to go under.

      Woolworths still springs to mind. Great company, screwed over by the new 'management' mortgaging it to the hilt till as a company it was no longer feasible due to the massive debt servicing costs it now had.

      But nothing is ever going to be done about it as the people that run them generally have very good friends in political offices, who's parties regularly receive large donations... cheaper than getting a prison sentence and not being allowed to screw more companies over.

      1. midcapwarrior

        Re: Venture Capitalists

        In this case it was more of a leveraged buy out. Load up on debt to buy the company. Load more to make a special pay out to Silver Lake and then hope to go public to start the process over again. The special pay ensures Silver Lake has paid themselves back everything they invested. The market changed before they could find a sucker to pick them up or to go public again.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an Avaya Reseller

    Avaya have successfully been alienating Avaya IP Office Resellers for years:

    Charging us for support - problems only get past distribution to them when it's needs a bug fix, so they want us to pay to report bugs to them.

    New firmware versions that make old features chargeable, (yes Mr customer you now have to pay for the upgrade & pay to keep using feature x.

    New firmware bring in minimal new functionality

    New firmware that stops PC partner software from working (the key reason for using it)

    Prices that just go up that take well above competitive pricing

    Issuing a new price list every month that erodes margin from quotes in the field

    Speaking to other resellers we are only continue to sell it to maintain our existing base.

  5. Pirate Dave
    Pirate

    Eh...

    "The company blames “lower demand for unified communications hardware”"

    Isn't this more or less what killed Nortel to start with? Although, in Nortel's case, part of the problem was that their old-school phone switches were built so well that they could run for years and not need to be replaced, other than the occasional board/module sourced from eBay for 1/10th what Nortel wanted for a new board...

    1. wyatt

      Re: Eh...

      They do appear to be bullet proof! I'm still installing voice recording systems that connect to them using traditional TDM wiring rather than network/VoIP. I've even done CDR in the last year..!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ooops ...

    What does this mean for UK customers ... including the major insurer who has just committed to Avaya ?

  7. Anne Hunny Mouse
    Unhappy

    I haven't used Avaya Red for a few years (but I still get called for advice) and it was a great product for Contact Centres with bullet proof reliability. Was never a great fan of the Nortel stuff though.

    In the middle of the roll out of CUCM and not impressed, in some ways our retiring ISDX is better....

    I haven't thought much of Lync either and unsure of Unify's direction post take-over. I've been doing telecoms long enough to know there is no perfect product out there and I also know it is a dying industry and look at other options.

    This bankruptcy has been coming for a while due to the loans / credit coming to an end and needing renegotiating. It's not as final as a UK bankruptcy and several of the US airlines have been in and out of Chapter 11 over the years (I think they all the major ones filed for Chapter 11 after Sept 11).

    The difference with Nortel is that they previously had to sell most of their assets after doing an Enron and surviving on credit which disappeared with the financial crisis.

    1. Sammy Smalls

      Question....

      from a CUCM monkey. What is it that leaves you unimpressed? As you say, no product is perfect, but I am always interested in CUCM opinions from people with cross platform experience.

  8. EveryTime Silver badge

    Why do these private equity deals always work out swimmingly for firms such as Silver Lake, and sinkingly for everyone else?

    They rarely seem to work well for customers. It doesn't give the management freedom to 'think longer term'. The management put into place is mostly concerned with financial instruments, not growing the company.

  9. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    The curse of Nortel

    Could Nortel be the next Commodore?

  10. Christian Berger Silver badge

    What I wonder is...

    ...wouldn't it be simple to create a solution which would blow the competition out of sight?

    I mean VoIP solutions, no matter what vendor range from "WTF, has anybody even tried that" to bad. If you get together some mature developers it should be easy to come up with something that "just works" and doesn't rely on obscure SIP features or h.323 or such things. I mean today the "best" solutions available rely on Asterisk. Those work, but Asterisk has severe codec negotiation issues. If only someone would fork Asterisk and patch out all the design bugs (it would get much smaller that way) you could build solutions on that that would be much better than what we currently have. Or you could even just write something new with just the useful bits of Asterisk.

    1. razorfishsl

      Re: What I wonder is...

      About as simple as creating a complete VR solution to blow people out of the water.

  11. ecofeco Silver badge

    I had forgotten all about this company

    I had forgotten all about this company. Which seems be part of their problem. No public visibility to speak of.

    And after hearing the comments here about their technical obsolescence, that seems to be their other problem.

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