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Expanded deal with Collab9 brings Avaya cloud to governments

Avaya has expanded its partnership with Collab9 to bring Avaya cloud UC and contact center products to federal, state and local governments.

Avaya is expanding its relationship with Collab9 to sell cloud-based unified communications and contact center products to federal agencies, as well as state and local governments. The partnership should help the vendor move its large installed base of government customers to the Avaya cloud.

The exclusive deal struck this week includes a plan to seek even more rigorous certifications that will let Avaya sell cloud services to a broader range of U.S. military and intelligence agencies. Avaya had previously been working with at least two other partners for the government channel but declined to name them.

Collab9 was the first vendor to receive authorization to sell cloud UC products to the U.S. government through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), a certification program that ensures cloud-based products meet a rigorous set of security and compliance standards.

While Avaya was FedRAMP-certified to sell cloud UC last month, the vendor lacks the authorization to sell cloud contact center products. Running Avaya software in Collab9 data centers provides a quicker route to market for the company's flagship business.

"A lot of government agencies have older Avaya gear today," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, based in Westminster, Mass. "This gives the state, local and federal governments the opportunity to modernize their infrastructure and stay with Avaya."

Collab9, which also resells Cisco UC and contact center products, is focused on the FedRAMP market. Its hosted UC offering has also received Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and HITECH certifications to handle sensitive health and personal information.

The deal announced this week makes Collab9 the exclusive FedRAMP partner for Avaya cloud, clearing the way for the two companies to work more closely to broaden their offerings. Avaya first partnered with Collab9 for cloud UC in 2017 and more recently expanded the relationship to add contact center.

"[Avaya's] install base is huge," Kerravala said. "This allows [Avaya] to modernize and migrate them with a partner that knows that vertical inside and out."

Avaya targets government sector to buoy revenues

Roughly 12 million public sector employees are using Avaya's UC and contact center products. Government agencies have stringent security requirements that have delayed their moves to the cloud, but cloud adoption among the public sector is accelerating.

Avaya needs to retain as many of its on-premises government customers as possible as they move to the cloud. The company has made increasing cloud sales its top priority since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings to restructure debts in early 2018.

On Avaya's most recent earnings call with investors, CEO Jim Chirico highlighted a weighty deal to "modernize" the communications infrastructure of an unnamed department of the U.S. military. Later in the call, another executive said the company had "some really large government contracts within our eyesight."

On the same call earlier this month, Avaya revealed that it had hired an investment bank to explore a possible sale of the company, among other financial maneuvers. The announcement came after the company reported revenues significantly lower than initially projected for the quarter.

"The federal government, state and local governments, have always been very important to Avaya," Jerry Dotson, director of government products at Avaya, said in an interview. "We have to be in position to go after those customers and support them in a secure manner."

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