Avaya should preserve Nortel's partnership with Microsoft on unified comms products if it wins its bid for Nortel Networks' enterprise assets said a senior analyst.

"If Avaya does not pick up on that, then there is a lot of research and development, good will and investment that will go to waste," said Brownlee Thomas, principal analyst with Forrester Research.

Avaya will likely not be particularly interested in the alliance, but depending on what it learns of Microsoft's position and the fact that the software giant has really taken advantage of that collaboration, it might consider continuing with it, said Thomas. Otherwise, Microsoft will just take that expertise in-house and use it, she added.

Avaya has made a $475-million (£285m) opening bid for Nortel's enterprise units. Other interested suitors have the option of placing higher bids. On Tuesday, MPAM Wireless submitted a US$725-million bid for Nortel's wireless assets.

The bid from the New York-based affiliate of private equity firm MatlinPatterson, follows that of Nokia Siemens Networks' US$650-million offer in June also for Nortel's carrier wireless assets. MatlinPatterson has said it is also considering additional Nortel assets.

When the Nortel-Microsoft partnership was originally formed, it was Nortel that needed Microsoft more, but the relationship has since evolved over the years, said Thomas. Avaya really should give it a closer look "and realise that (it) won't be the No. 1 player in that space, and the face off is really going to be between Cisco and Microsoft," she said.

While Microsoft does work with Cisco, Thomas said that relationship is "Cisco-controlled, it's very much add-on extensions to keep your enemy close to you sort of thing."