Why I left the Avaya List

About a year ago, I left the Avaya List. If you are not familiar, its a mailing list group hosted by Yahoo where one subscribes by entering their email and  they respond back and forth through a centralized email address.

I was there on and off for the last decade. I had a reputation issue because I was calling out Mark Fletcher, Avaya (err Nortel’s) E-911 Product Manager and also I never really was upfront with my affiliation to the industry or what have you. I was lurking for most of the 10 years on the list. People came and went, like any online venue, but some stayed for years.

The Avaya List in their defense is the true representation of the American user base for Avaya. Many are white collared types, with formal IT regulations and practices and social media was a no-no for their company communications or even the list-serve itself. Avaya’s marketing today completely disses these companies, sub contractors, users such as system admins or even the end user themselves by making social media apps that I’ve never seen in use, or even tablets or conferencing. I see Cisco all over the place now. I think Avaya is missing the boat in terms of not respecting this group of users which the list is been around for almost 2 decades (if you can believe that!)

For many years Avaya didn’t show too much presence for the right reasons. To likely prevent conflicts of interest. The development of the 9600 IP Telephones may be credited to a feedback by an Avaya official circa 2006 based on a thread seeking new ideas for new sets. The 1600s may have been inspired by some of the users not liking the single LEDs.

Anyways, Nortel would be bought out and the users did move over, but some of them were pretty nerdy or cocky or just had a very reactionary tone. I don’t want to denigrate people publicly, but Nortel isn’t the Apple of PBX systems, its a Microsoft of PBXs. Nortel was always and is full of TLA or Three Letter Acronyms, even before VOIP was the standard. Nortel’s Meridian 1 platform seems to be the most oddest terminal user interface or TUIs, and the telephones are just a pain! You may see on other sites the modern design or the sophisticated  user interface, but to use the damn sets required a PhD in PBX Administration to use a flippin Nortel!

So with that aside, one of the moderators was well versed in the small systems offerings, but his PBX knowledge was mostly on ROLMs and M1s. It was waste of bandwidth of hearing him say all the great things of ROLMs on an Avaya list serve. But I guess admins have double standards, it was getting tiresome, but I never complained.

(Honestly, I don’t have much of an opinion of ROLMs, because the documentation is hard to find on the Net, and ROLM’s popularity peaked in the mid 90s. It’s not to say they still have users, the users slid. Other than having a magnetic switchhook, and integrated voicemail and PBX interfaces, that’s all I know what made ROLM all the rave in the 80s.)

Some of the Nortel users would nit pick replies or question in a grumpy fashion, that’s  what I hated of the Nortel list (still a member through Google Groups), but I’ll admit I kinda caught the disease near my end of the list.

What drove me out was the constant TLA or the constant jargon, it was like the Nortel Way would creep into the Avaya. I’ve said this a number of times, Avaya was sold out to Nortel instead of Avaya buying Nortel. AT&T and Lucent never degraded the end user or the on site administrator, small or large systems, wether it was release notes, emails, documentation or other venues of that time. Avaya Red systems were always a user friendly, warm presence, Nortel users, admins and the company just looked down if you didn’t know how to change the time on an M1 PBX. They seem to be the IT jerks, that I’ve stride to not be (even when I slip sometimes.)

The theme of this online portal in the PBX dept is to showcase the “Avaya” that people would be familiar prior to 2004, which includes brands that may say “Lucent” or “AT&T” or even the Bell System (yup, referring to the Dimension.) Avaya’s marketing today is so out of touch with the true users, it’s really a tragedy. 100 years of innovation (or 200 if you count Nortel for combined years)  was being thrown in a dumpster like it was standard old trash.

People on the list serve didn’t really know who I was, even when my full name would appear on and off the list. I’d sometimes post via the Yahoo Page or send an email from my Outlook. For all they knew I was some angry vendor trying to take down people. Well that wasn’t the intention.

The last one that got me upset was Mark Fletcher, Fletch if you’re close to him or respect him. I never respected him. Why? Because he works for a private company who has advocated EXCESSIVE, and I mean excessive E911 legislation for businesses with Multi Line Telephone Systems or MLTS, in short any phone system that’s in house that has more than a few extensions. Personally, I wished governments don’t dictate what goes on the other side of the demarc point. There’s a reason why Part 68 exists. E911 basically destroys that game changer from the Carterphone days.

Some states the E911 laws are burdensome and some states don’t have any (like the 603 area code.) The two big states, New York and Massachusetts has line by line rules of what consitutes a multi line and what doesn’t. I would not be surprised to see these two states don’t comply with their own laws, since these two states use massive phones and switching from  – you guessed it – Avaya, as previously documented in 2012.

Also many Avaya/Nortel systems are in many small companies, mum and pop shops here in the US and probably Canada too. Avaya has gone very progressive by turning the company into this alleged high tech “innovation” themed business. If that is truly the case, the laws preached by Mark Fletcher et al would actually counteract as perspective new customers are going to the cloud or mobile PBX setups, which would hurt Avaya instead of helping them. In a “software as a service” or mobile environments, you just escaped jail from the E911 regs.

And why? A few people whose lives had died only because of a misprogrammed configuration, out of how many people in this country? Another conflict of interest by Avaya and Fletcher was a woman who got killed in Texas because a girl tried to call 911, being taught to dial couldn’t get help and the girl’s mother died. Kari’s Law is supposed get FCC approval and if it does get approved, all motels and hotels have to program all the guest telephone sets so when one who literally calls 911 it will go to 911 like how kids are taught in under the age of 5.

But yet no one wants to question the father’s history if there is any with the law, it’s all about the kid who couldn’t get 911 help. Sadly lawyers will win if there is in compliance (whether its Kari’s law or the regs in general) it could put people out of business. But trying to have an intellectual debate on a professional list serve only got me into some trouble.

I bolted after the founder of the list serve had refreshed the users to be nice to new members to the list (inferring to the Nortel types), avoid discussing controversial topics and don’t attack other people. I felt it was time to go.